Flyers soar just a little higher than Jets

I grew up wishing I could’ve watched the Broadstreet Bullies. Bobby Clarke was a favourite player of mine to watch old videos of – toothless, grinning like the shit-eating bastard he was, but he was one of Canada’s shit-eating bastards. Of which there were many. But had any of them pretty much sealed the deal to win the Summit Series in ’72 by hacking Kharlamov’s ankle and sending the Russian star out for the remainder of the tournament? Did I have those kind of guts? Did anyone?

Clarke has been rightly criticized for the tap on the ankle that might’ve won our nation the most important hockey event in history. Regardless, I can’t help think back on that team, with players like Dave ‘The Hammer’ Schulz, Bernie Parent, and another Manitoba boy named Reggie ‘The Riverton Rifle’ Leach, sitting here watching an rink full of millionaires float around in the pre-game warmup.

If we could put the rosters side-by-side there would be a stark difference between the two. That’s not to say the Philadelphia Flyers of today aren’t tough guys – though arguably they were tougher a couple years ago (remember Ian Laperriere’s puck to the face?). But regardless of whether they’ve got the muscle to survive, they haven’t proven yet this year that they can. In fact, the Flyers and the Jets are in similar situations. They’re both at 11 points, but the Flyers have played more games. They’re both still close to the bottom of their divisions.

But hopefully tonight the Jets can fly a.. well, Jet, right through the heart of all Philadelphia hockey fans. The seats are filling up. By the way, has anyone noticed how much the opening spot on the jumbotron three minutes before the game kind of feels like a Batman trailer?

An exciting turn! Since Bryzgalov played terribly last night against the Leafs, he’s starting for the Flyers. Remember when he said Winnipeg was too cold, too small, and we didn’t have enough parks? Well, our one great city just collectively booed him and the game hasn’t even started. Even Mick E. Moose is bangin’ the glass behind his net. Good foot to start on. That guy bums me out.

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First Period:

Peluso tried to fight Rinaldo, but got a penalty for holding instead. Of course, a fight would’ve been fun, especially ’cause Rinaldo seems like a dick, but oh well.

Brayden Schenn scores around eight minutes in. He used to play for the Wheat Kings. So have we been betrayed? I guess it doesn’t work like that in hockey. People are still booing Bryz, which never gets old.

Not enough people are always heckling the visiting goalie when they’re right behind the glass. I think it’s because lower bowlers have too much money to get rowdy. Which doesn’t make any sense, but hey, that’s the theory in the 300s.

The Flyers get an interference call, which leads somehow to a 2-on-1 for them after play resumes, and the Jets get lucky because it hits the post. Back to full strength.

Turns out they were just waiting for the perfect opportunity, which somehow meant not capitalizing on the power play, but everyone is still happy. Wheeler hits Ladd in front and he scores a beaut.

Timonen scores on a Flyers power play thanks to Redmond taking a cross-checking penalty. Down by one again. Hopefully another good thing happens soon.

It doesn’t. Intermission.

Second Period:

I thought I missed the Timbits game, but then Melissa Martin told me she doesn’t think one happened. She tells me the Jets forwards aren’t looking very good, which I guess I agree with because we’re down by a goal. Melissa knows more about hockey than I do. I never get to see the Timbits games.

McGinn runs Montoya down a little bit around five minutes in. The whistle blows and Stuart very calmly takes off his gloves and helmet and beckons McGinn over. You can’t mess with goalies and expect to get away with it. They both get some good shots in, and Stuart ends up on the ice. You might think that means he lost but I think he won based on his morals.

Some guy just chose Bure over Gretzky for a most career hat tricks trivia thing. At least I know more about hockey than that guy.

I think there might be an audio delay between music in the stands and music in the press box. What I originally recognized as “I Wanna Be Sedated” ended up sounding kinda like the Dillinger Escape Plan.

The really friendly looking biker version of Ron Swanson just got my vote for best on the kiss cam, but then some old people beat out him and his ol’ lady. No justice in ice cream smooching contests, I guess.

No one scored in the second period but at least both teams are playing physically, which is way more fun than when they don’t. But the Flyers are going after Montoya. Byfuglien is going after a lot of guys. I expect a good third period at the MTS Palace.

Third Period:

First goal is McGinn from Voracek. It was under review, but then not. Jets down 3-1. Only 15 minutes left.

No power play goes well. Not even AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” can do the trick, and I thought that AC/DC could do anything. Maybe it’s that there just hasn’t been enough AC/DC?

In the last two minutes, a deflated MTS Centre sets into the realization that it’s not going to happen tonight, and fans start filtering out of their seats and into the wetness of the street. No amount of time-outs will help, and even though Evander Kane seemingly tried to win the whole game by himself, it just wasn’t meant to be.

But wait: with 46 seconds left, Ladd puts one past Bryzgalov. It’s 3-2. A glimmer of hope. Everyone is on their feet.

And the clock strikes zero. That’s it. Looks like the Flyers were the toughest guys tonight.

*    *    *

In the locker room, a typically reserved Ondrej Pavelec remains typically reserved. Brian Little remarks that, “we played well, we just have to play well more often.” Hockey players always say stuff like that.

On my way out into the slush and the drunks, I notice a giant photograph of the Stanley Cup on the way out of the locker room. It is, I assume, a reminder of what they’re spending their lives working toward. It’s what their parents spent all their money on in hopes of providing a way to compete for it.

But it’s also a glimmer in the back of the minds of all Jets fans hoping that, one day, they might “play well more often,” and make it a possibility. So… please?

Matt Williams is a Winnipeg-based writer and musician infatuated by lady country singers. He doesn’t often write about sports. Follow him on Twitter @MattGeeWilliams.

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