An odd 5 p.m. local start sees the second matchup of the year between the visiting Boston Bruins and host Winnipeg Jets as Winnipeg tries to find their first points of a 3 game home stand and stay out of the Eastern Conference basement.
When the Winnipeg Jets welcomed Zach Bogosian back to the lineup on Friday night, nobody knew that the defense core would stay at full strength for less than a game. But that was the case when the team's leading scorer Tobias Enstrom exited in the first period with a shoulder injury we do not yet know the extent of the damage of.
This leaves the Jets in a bit of a pickle on defense, as the better of the defensemen in the press box is Paul Postma, but he shoots right handed and his insertion into the lineup would mean 4 right handed shot defenders compared to just 2 left handed shots. This may be a scenario that the Jets are willing to risk though, as the play of Grant Clitsome thus far indicates he is where he should be right now.
That would likely mean a top defensive pairing of Dustin Byfuglien and Ron Hainsey, with the second pairing being a Zach attack of Zach Bogosian and Zach Redmond. The final pairing would then be Mark Stuart and Paul Postma. The loss of Enstrom was obvious last game, especially on the power play, but playing with 5 D is always difficult. The Jets did well to limit the the high powered Penguins to just 3 goals, only one of which came at even strength.
The previous matchup between the Bruins and Jets went to a shootout in Boston, with the B's prevailing 2-1. Since the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg the home side has won all 5 meetings, so that bodes well for Winnipeg on the night.
There is one little concern I have going into this match. People in slumps have a nasty tendency to awaken against Winnipeg, and the Bruins have that opportunity for both Tyler Seguin and Patrice Bergeron. Combined they have 4 goals on 81 shots, which are absurdly terrible numbers. Meanwhile, the giant nose on skates Brad Marchand has 7 goals on 16 shots, which is just stupidly unsustainable. Some of that puck luck is bound to end up with Bergeron and Seguin eventually, but hopefully not tonight. If Olli Jokinen and Evander Kane wake up instead for the Jets, that would be much preferred in my mind. Even if I AM Anti-Jets...
Keys to the Game:
- Soft Penalties: In recent games we have seen both Mark Stuart and Zach Redmond get called for "interference" as they stand up there man at the blue line after a dump in. Now, I think these are terrible calls, but you have to acknowledge that for some reason refs are making them and avoid putting yourself in that situation.
- Make the big save, and the rebound after: The first goal on Friday night was an ugly one, as Ondrej Pavelec made the initial save, but left himself so out of position (literally out of the crease) that all Craig Adams had to do was out-muscle James Wright to push the puck into an empty net. Positioning continues to be a weak spot for Pavs, and one could also argue that the James Neal shot on the 5 on 3 is one he needs to make. It put the Penguins up by two, which made a late comeback all but impossible.
- Outscore the opposition: Sounds easy enough, but apart from Andrew Ladd and his 7 goals, this is a team that is hard pressed to find the back of the net. Maybe it's because you have Ron Hainsey and Nik Antropov getting power play time. Maybe it's because Evander Kane has not scored in 8 games despite taking 27 shots in that time. Whatever is the case, this team is too poor in their own end to expect to win when they only average 2.54 goals per game.
- Puck Luck: As mentioned, Bergeron and Seguin haven't scored much, but it's not for a lack of trying. 4.93% combined shooting is below the norm for these two, and sooner or late something has to give.
- Solid team defense: Team defense continues to be a strong suit of the Bruins, and They are currently in the running for the Jennings Trophy because of it with 29 goals allowed in 12 games.The play of Tuukka Rask hasn't been sensational, but it hasn't had to be as the Bruins are 5th lowest in the league in Shots Against per game.
- Home Ice Advantage: 5-0. That's the record of the home team in the Jets 2.0 vs Bruins series since the start of last season. The Jets are hoping this is enough to get them their first points on the 3rd and final game of this home stand before they go on the road for 5 games
Player to boo mercilessly:
Zdeno Chara because he's tall. And we all hate tall people!
Boston 4 - F