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Game Recap: Winnipeg Awakens the Boston Bear and Loses the Late Lead

The Jets very nearly snuck their way to a win to end their road trip. Unfortunately, sloppiness got in the way.

NHL: Boston Bruins vs Winnipeg Jets Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Last night was a bit stressful for the Jets. They had their hands full against a speedy, talented Toronto Maple Leafs squad. While Winnipeg had a tough time fending off Toronto’s pacey offense, tonight’s test against the Boston Bruins presented a very different challenge. Boston has a deep, balanced, defensively-oriented squad with productive depth players and masterful high-end talent. Few players are doing as well as David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand, both of whom entered the night with more than 60 points.

The Jets, though, appeared up to the task at the start of the game. Boston plays a more methodical, slower-paced game, and Winnipeg largely disrupted their offensive zone set-ups and breakouts for the opening 10 minutes. Both squads were having trouble getting to the areas in front of the goalies, opting to take a few long-distance shots and pursue the puck off of dump-ins along the wall. The Jets, however, ended up striking first. Kyle Connor undressed Torey Krug for a highlight reel effort that’ll end up on some goal-of-the-year voting ballots, I’m sure. Boston wasn’t having it, and as the period wore on, the Bruins began to connect on more breakout passes and some offensive zone pressure.

The breakthrough came off of a bad missed assignment, where Tucker Poolman and Josh Morrissey both took the puck-carrier, freeing a Boston skater to walk in untouched. That skater was Pastrnak, and he made no mistake. The Jets retook the lead at the start of the second period, with Andrew Copp getting a nice deflected PP goal off of a Morrissey point shot. Again, though, Boston pressed aggressively and earned a PP opportunity off of the pressure. Pastrnak only needed an instant to rip a one-timer into the back of the net.

Right before the end of the second frame, Jake DeBrusk caught the Jets on an awful linechange and broke away from Luca Sbisa to put Boston up 3-2. I’m not sure how Winnipeg gets caught on so many linechanges but it’s a terrible habit. Thankfully, Winnipeg scored on a last second PP, this one courtesy of Neal Pionk from the point. Pionk’s line change directly caused the DeBrusk marker, so he slightly redeemed his error.

NHL: Boston Bruins vs Winnipeg Jets Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

If you like drama, the third period sure had a lot of it. Boston was, at this point, in full stride, and causing all sorts of issues for Winnipeg in its own end. The pressure very nearly paid off, with Bitetto and Brossoit managing to prevent a point-blank shot from nestling in the back of the net. The Jets, for their part, couldn’t get much going, but still managed to score thanks to some netfront chaos from Connor and Scheifele. Mark potted one off of his backhand from a nearly impossible angle, giving Winnipeg a narrow lead.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: David Pastrnak scored again to tie it. He completed his hat-trick, the third of his season, and DeBrusk followed it up just seconds later to make it 5-4 Boston. Brossoit had a rough night and never looked comfortable. Much like the Jets blueline, he was shaky at best and didn’t cope well with Boston’s deflections and netfront chaos. The Jets managed to avoid conceding again but the damage was done. Winnipeg heads back home with a 2-1-1 road trip record, quite good all told. The quality of play, though, will leave some wondering if the Jets will find a way to start controlling games a bit more like they used to in the good old days.

Three Takeaways

Poolman is playing way beyond his capabilities.

I like Tucker, but he’s getting too much ice-time on a blueline that’s overtaxed. Maurice needs to make the top-pairing Morrissey and Pionk. Poolman doesn’t have the defensive IQ to make timely decisions, and always remains a step behind the play even at full-speed. In a third-pairing role he should do far better, but he’s struggling in his current role.

Brossoit might be a pumpkin again.

Coming into this season, I was hoping for more positive performances from Brossoit. His early returns have been a lot less promising, and he might be back to where he was in Edmonton. He can’t be blamed for everything that happened tonight, but he definitely wasn’t bailing the Jets out as much as you’d like. He had a stunning toe save on Nordstrom early in the game, but some of the tipped shots and the like beat him very cleanly. I attribute a lot of those to the Jets making some brain-melting mistakes, but you’d still like a save or two.

NHL: Boston Bruins vs Winnipeg Jets Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Winnipeg is further retreating into a defensive shell, and it isn’t working.

The Jets have tried to slow the tempo of games down and force teams into a grindier, slower style of hockey. Winnipeg did it to Toronto last night and tried to do it again against Boston. Sometimes, enough things break for this to work, but Winnipeg isn’t going to survive in the playoffs using this style. The Jets need to create more offensive opportunities, because their shooters can only capitalize on so few chances before the goals start to dry up. Winnipeg has a ridiculous record given the way they’ve played this season, but it’s impossible to say where they’ll end up in a few months time.