The Winnipeg Jets have had quite the run of difficult opponents over the last week, but Thursday evening saw the best team in the NHL enter Canada Life Centre. The Boston Bruins, on pace for one of the greatest regular seasons in league history, awaited a beleaguered Jets team hoping for a signature win. Winnipeg regrettably fell short in a 3-0 shutout, but the effort was certainly there.
Winnipeg’s outing got off to a bit of a tumultuous start. Boston scored on a Trent Frederic goal less than a minute in, courtesy of a blown coverage between Schmidt and Connor. I’m not sure why both skaters were marking the same puck-carrier, but Frederic simply walked down mainstreet to an easy goal. The Jets were shaken, but rallied quickly to try and get back into the game. Winnipeg pushed the pace and tried to stretch the ice against a sleepier-looking Boston team. Again, however, the fates intervened. Pavel Zacha caught the Jets on a counter and nailed a bar-down blister over Hellebuyck’s shoulder. Just like that, Winnipeg was in an early 2-0 hole.
After failing to grab a goal in the first period, the Jets were hoping the middle frame would be more hospitable. Winnipeg tried all manner of shot attempts, from faceoff circle blasts to tipped point shots. The Bruins closed the low slot off and made space in front of Swayman a premium. The Jets have been notoriously poor against well-positioned blocks and traps. The slot defense was no different, with Winnipeg unable to find much of anything in dangerous areas. The best chances fell to Scheifele and Connor, including an empty net look that Scheifele probably thought was goal-bound. Instead, a timely stick scooped the puck away and kept the Jets off the board.
Winnipeg spent the last 20 minutes of regulation alternating between attempts to break down Boston’s defense, and fending off Boston’s faster late-game counters. The Bruins had woken up by this point, and their crisp puck movement made life difficult for the Jets defense. Boston did enough to preserve the shutout and outplayed Winnipeg, but it was a reasonably close effort from the Jets. My main concern is that Winnipeg is still struggling to find scoring opportunities in the low slot area. It was a problem against Minnesota, and showed up again versus the Bruins. Hopefully, the team can rally ahead of the season-defining match-up with Nashville tomorrow.
- This certainly wasn’t an awful game, but it felt like Boston could coast off of a strong defensive effort while the Jets spun wheels trying to score. Winnipeg misses Perfetti and Dubois dearly.
- Morrissey didn’t look very good at all. At this point, Winnipeg may need to consider shutting him down for a short bit so he’ll be good to go towards the end of the season.
- Scheifele and Connor had a better outing than the Canes game, but both still aren’t putting it altogether when the team needs them most. Helly can’t score goals for this team. Ehlers, typically Winnipeg’s best attacker, had a pretty wretched evening. It was clear he was fighting the puck the whole game.
- The bottom-6 is an offensive black hole. Gagner going out for the season is a huge bummer, since his vision and shooting have been very effective in a limited role.
- Saturday’s game against the Preds could ultimately decide who retains the final Wild Card spot. Cross your fingers!