With 2011 over, it is only fitting to have many countdown posts. IllegalCurve.com presents the Top 10 Winnipeg Jets goals of 2011. (Complete with highlights)
Goals were picked based on the wow factor of the goal, the significance of the game they occurred in, and how they impacted the outcome of the game.
10. Blake Wheeler, December 22 vs. Montreal (PPG 03:18 in 1st)
In one of the more dominating wins of the year, this was the second of four games against the Habs. After some nice passing on the powerplay, Dustin Byfuglien picked up a rebound in front of the net, passed it cross crease to Wheeler who shot into the open cage. It was Blake Wheeler’s best game of the year, he earned the first star with two goals and one assist leading the Jets to avenge the opening night loss to the Habs.
9. Alexander Burmistrov, December 17 vs. Anaheim (00:31 in 2nd)
This game rivaled opening night in terms of fan emotion in the building. It was extremely loud all night. The Ducks were playing their second game in two nights, and the Jets got off to a quick 2-0 start. It looked like they were going to cruise to victory when the Ducks roared back (or quacked back?) late in the first. The Jets got off to a quick start in the second when Evander Kane fed Alexander Burmistrov through the neutral zone. He walked in to the top of the circle and fired a wrister that put the Jets ahead for good. This was one of the nicest snipes of the year, a well placed shot that went top left corner over the shoulder of Jonas Hiller who was later pulled from the game. The Jets went on to win on a historic night.
8. Evander Kane, November 3, 2011 @ New York Islanders (04:21 in 1st)
This was the first goal and the winner in a 3-0 win by the Jets on their long road trip that went through October and November. Evander Kane had a great individual effort beating defenseman Travis Hamonic, who was having trouble with Kane all night, and after taking a couple of wacks at the puck he beat Andrew McDonald too. Finally the puck ended up in the net and the Jets were up 1-0 and cruised to victory.
7. Bryan Little, December 6 vs. Boston (04:50 in 3rd)
The Boston Bruins came in to Winnipeg having not lost in regulation in fifteen games. This was the second night of back-to-back games, and leading point scorer Tyler Seguin was sitting after having missed a morning breakfast. The atmosphere in the building was electric. It was the first game of the season that had a significant number of away jerseys. After Mark Stuart was hit in the corner of the Jets zone, the faceoff following the play was just outside the Jets blue line. Bryan Little won over 50% of his face-off’s that night, and on this draw, he won it to himself, skated up the ice and put the puck between the legs of goaltender Tukka Rask. This was the winning goal in possibly the Jets biggest win of the season, and the crowd erupted in one of the biggest ovations of the year..
6. Evander Kane, November 26 @ Boston (09:31 in 1st)
After defeating Carolina on Friday the 25th, the Jets traveled to Boston for the match up on the 26th. The Jets got up on the defending Stanley Cup Champions early with a perfectly executed break-out that ended with a 2 on 1. Blake Wheeler had the puck entering the attacking zone, made a great pass to Kane who deked Conn Smythe Winner Tim Thomas for the first goal of the night. While Boston would eventually come back to defeat the Jets in that game, this was one of the prettier goals of the season.
5. Blake Wheeler, November 17 vs. Washington (PPG 08:31 2nd)
This was the first visit by the reigning Southeast division champions to Winnipeg. Blake Wheeler had gone eighteen games without a goal at that point, and was sick of talking about it every day with the media. Fans wondered when it would come and he was being labelled as a disappointment. The play started when Brooks Laich shot the puck on a 2 on 1, he had thought he scored, but the puck actually went over the net and wrapped around to Wheeler. Who then carried the puck with blazing speed into the offensive end, blew past defenseman Roman Hamrlik and drove hard to the net simultaneously crashing with Evander Kane. Wheeler slid the puck past Michal Neuvirth for his first of the season. He then let out eighteen games of frustration by jumping into the boards shoulder first.
4. Andrew Ladd, October 27 @ Philadelphia (18:54 in 3rd)
In what was one of the most exciting and highest goal scoring games in recent history, it looked like the Jets were going to blow two four goal leads to begin their long two week road trip. Captain Andrew Ladd came to the rescue with just over a minute to play in the third period. After some nice cycling by Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler, Wheeler fed Andrew Ladd who was moving towards the slot, who put the puck past Sergei Bobrovsky. Fans around Winnipeg rejoiced after a wild game.
3. Evander Kane, October 27 @ Philadelphia (PPG, 10:39 in 2nd)
Another goal from the crazy 9-8 Jets victory in Philadelphia. This was one of the prettier goals of the season. Bogosian had the puck at the point, went over to Stapleton at the other point, who passed to Burmistrov on the half-wall, down to Nik Antropov at the side of the net, who made the between the legs pass to Kane to put the Jets up 6-2.
2. Kyle Wellwood, vs. Pittsburgh (00:08 in 1st)
It was the first game at MTS Centre since the October 9 home opener. The Jets had just come back from a road trip that left them 0-3 on the season still searching for their first win. The MTS Centre crowd was extremely loud to start the game and the Jets didn’t disappoint. After a face-off win, and a trip by Pens’ defenseman Zybanek Michalek the Jets were on a 3 on 1 which was executed perfectly. When it looked like they would not be able to capitalize on the opportunity, Wellwood took the puck off his skate and put it into the net to put the Jets up 1-0 who were on their way to the first win of the season.
1. Nik Antropov, vs. Montreal (02:27 in 3rd)
It was a historic night in Winnipeg who hosted their first regular season game in over fifteen years. The Jets did not get off to a good start, and were down 2-0 to start the 3rd period. While the score what somewhat close, the team appeared unorganized and out of sync, and it looked liked fans would not even get to see them score. Nik Antropov ended the shutout in the 3rd period when he put a rebound off of a point shot by Mark Stuart into the cage behind goaltender Carey Price. The Jets had earned their first goal in franchise history, which would end up on it’s own postage stamp.
Those are my picks for the top ten Winnipeg Jets’ goals of 2011, if you agree or disagree, post your thoughts in the comments.