Comments / New

Recap: Boston Bruins @ Winnipeg Jets

Dec 22, 2023; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Boston Bruins goalie Jeremy Swayman (1) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets forward Nino Niederreiter (62) during the third period at Canada Life Centre. Mandatory Credit: Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With only one game left before the Christmas holiday break, the fans at the Canada Life Centre in Winnipeg were treated to a clash between a couple of top 10 teams. Neither the Winnipeg Jets nor the Boston Bruins have lost in regulation to each other’s conferences, so it was building up to be a epic battle for the ages. Let’s see how it turned out…

It was the Bruins that gained possession of the puck off the opening face-off and they immediately rushed up the ice to test Winnipeg’s goaltender. The Jets’ top line countered with an attack of their own, as we saw Ehlers fly up the ice with Vilardi to his right and just one Boston defender back. By the time the pass did get across to Vilardi, he was in too tight to get the puck up & over Swayman’s pads. After a cycle shift by Winnipeg saw a Morrissey point shot, the Jets were sprung on another 2 on 1. Namestnikov perhaps was too patient and found himself below the goalline, so he flipped the puck back into the crease area. Morrissey was pinching but his stick was tied up, so he tried to kick the puck to his blade, but the biscuit went into the net first. The refs immediately ruled it “no goal” and after a brief review, that was the call they stuck to. After Boston got their 1st shot from the point 3 minutes into the game, the Jets’ 4th line spent a shift cycling the Bruins’ end and tested the goalie on a couple of occasions. The next 5 minutes saw Winnipeg severely tilt the ice, with a couple good shifts by the Lowry line and a long cycle shift by the Scheifele trio. Morrissey broke up Boston’s best chance in that period when he laid his stick down on the ice to intercept a cross-ice pass, while Scheifele & Niederreiter were stoned from the slot by the Boston tender. The Bruins finally had a couple offensive zone shifts, but the Gustafsson line kept them to the perimeter and a nice step up at the blueline by DeMelo denied any quality looks. Hellebuyck had to make his biggest save to that point when a failed Winnipeg clear was kept in by Carlo at the blueline. He immediately wristed a shot towards the Jets’ goal that Coyle deflected to the upper part of the net, however Bucky was able to get enough of the puck to make the save. Boston started to pick up the pace as the period neared an end and Hellebuyck might have saved a goal with a pokecheck that stopped a Bruin from stepping out front with the puck. In the last minute, the teams traded chances that saw the Boston shot attempt go wide of the net, allowing Winnipeg to counter with a Vilardi & Scheifele 2 on 1 rush. The Jets’ center was able to get the puck over to his goal scoring winger, but Swayman was able to come across to deny the attempt. The puck bounced off the goaltender’s pad and was sitting a couple feet in front of the net. It was a pinching Morrissey that was able to win the race to the loose biscuit and he was able to net his 6th goal of the season to give Winnipeg a 1-0 lead with 8 seconds to play.

First Period MoneyPuck Stats: Score: 1 to 0 for the Jets, shots 10 to 6 for the Jets, 70.6% Deserve To Win for the Jets, Expected Goals – all situations (1.21-0.41 WPG), & 5 on 5 (1.21-0.41 WPG)

The 2nd period saw back & forth chances out of the gate, with both Vilardi and Coyle getting high-danger shot attempts. Winnipeg’s top line got pinned in their end for a long shift and Pionk almost made an incredible play when he jumped on a pass near the blueline. While he did get a piece of the puck, the defender was unable to gain control to send it out of the defensive zone. Now he was a bit out of position, so he was forced to trip Marchand to stop a dangerous chance on Hellebuyck. Boston’s first powerplay of the game saw an early chance from near Winnipeg’s crease, but Lowry was able to clear the danger. The rest of the PK went very well, as the Jets made it difficult for the Bruins in the neutral zone. Boston probably had better looks in the shift following the powerplay, but Hellebuyck was able to shut down a wrap-around attempt during a scramble in front of his net. The B’s DeBrusk stole the puck from Ehlers in the Jets’ end and that resulted in another Boston cycle shift that saw a couple more shots. Winnipeg was able to get their 1st PP chance of the game when Perfetti was hauled down on a rush, although the Jets’ top unit was barely able to gain Boston’s zone with the extra attacker. The 2nd unit didn’t have much time to work with, but they were able to briefly get set up and Perfetti almost connected with Niederreiter in the slot. Winnipeg’s 4th & 3rd lines followed that with some cycles shifts that saw Swayman make a couple more saves and Lowry crunching Pastrnak with a solid bodycheck. The Scheifele line jumped over the boards and almost immediately break out on a 3 on 3 rush. The center carried the puck into the B’s zone, before passing off to Ehlers on the wing. After kicking the pass up to his stick, the Danish winger sent a laser diagonally across the slot to find Vilardi at the side of the net for his 7th goal of the season. Down by 2 goals, Boston immediately tried to get back into the game and they were able to spend a couple shifts in the Jets’ end. Winnipeg’s defense did a great job keeping things to the outside and the Bruins got a bit overzealous on a line change that saw up to 7 of them on the ice. The refs couldn’t ignore that and the Jets re-jigged powerplay would get a second opportunity. The top PP unit failed to get set up initially, but eventually caused issues when Vilardi picked up a rebound from a point shot. The winger tried to out-wait the goaltender, but by the time he got around his pad, he was below the goalline. Gabe opted to flip the puck into the crease and a Boston defender immediately grabbed it before throwing it away from danger. Closing the hand on a puck in the crease is a big no-no, so Winnipeg was rewarded a penalty shot. Bowness selected Scheifele for the attempt and the top center made a decent move, faking to the forehand before going back to the other way. While he didn’t cleanly beat Swayman, there was space to put it in the net, but 55’s attempt wasn’t able to get over the out-stretched pad. The 2nd PP unit came out after that to finish the advantage and after getting set up, Schmidt froze the defenders with a nice fake shot before slipping the puck to an uncovered Niederreiter at the backdoor. The Swiss winger showed some quick stick work as he pulled the puck from below the goalline to jam it in before Swayman could get across his crease. A rare PPG for the Jets saw the home team take a 3 to 0 lead with 2:19 left in the middle frame. The Bruins tried to change the feel of the game by starting post-whistle scrums, but the Jets failed to be goaded into a dumb penalty.

After Two Periods MoneyPuck Stats: Score: 3 to 0 for the Jets, shots 21 to 13 for the Jets, 66.7% Deserve to Win for the Jets, Expected Goals – all situations (2.63-1.78 WPG) & 5 on 5 (1.87-1.75 WPG)

Once again, the Bruins had an early scoring chance to start a period, but Hellebuyck was able to flash the glove on a Steen shot from the right face-off dot. The Lowry unit responded with a rush of their own that saw Appleton test Swayman from the left face-off circle. The Boston tender made the pad save, but the puck bounced right back to Apples, who had some time & space before he had to make a decision. While he appeared to be set up for another shot attempt, Mason fooled the goaltender by slipping a pass to Lowry battling in the blue paint. The big center did well fighting off a defenseman while moving his stick to deftly tip the puck into the open cage, giving the Jets a 4 to 0 lead just 1:25 into the period. To give the Bruins their credit, they didn’t fold up and start mentally preparing for Saturday’s match against the Minnesota Wild. Boston began spending chunks of time in Winnipeg’s zone, but good defense kept Hellebuyck from being seriously tested (Niederreiter backcheck & hit, Samberg & Dillon blocks, & a Lowry crunch on McAvoy). The 4th line was able to end the period of dominance when Barron showed some impressive strength as he basically carried a defender on his back while driving to the net for a weak backhand attempt. DeMelo was forced to cross the line according to the refs while trying to contain Boston’s Pasta, but some great blocks (Dillon, Appleton, & Gustafsson) allowed Winnipeg to kill the powerplay without too much difficulty. Coming out of the box, DeMelo was sprung on a 2 on 1 but Iafallo couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity. With around 4.5 minutes to play, a Jets’ clearing attempt along the boards was stopped at the blueline by Carlo. He quickly wristed a puck and it somehow found a way through the traffic in front of Hellebuyck, who likely didn’t see the puck at all until he scooped it out of his net. After another good 4th line shift that saw Gustafsson deflect a shot just over the crossbar, Boston’s Beecher flew around a Winnipeg defender to test Hellebuyck. In the end, the puck dribbled wide of the net as the Bruin crashed into Bucky and the Jets were sent back to the powerplay when Samberg was tripped up by Heinen. The 2nd PP unit started things out and immediately got set up, sending a few shots at Swayman in the early part of the advantage. Once again, Winnipeg shockingly scored a PP goal, this time when Perfetti found Niederreiter in prime low slot real estate, allowing the Swiss winger to 1 time his 2nd powerplay goal of the match with 19 seconds remaining on the clock.


MoneyPuck Full Game Stats: 60% Deserve to Win for the Jets, 3.47 to 3.07 in expected goals (all situations) for the Jets, and 3.03 to 2.58 in expected goals (5 on 5) for the Bruins.

Game Observations:

  • What a night for El Nino!! Nino Niederreiter netted two PPGs on 3 shots, was great defensively on the Jets’ shut-down line, and used his big body effectively (3 hits).
  • Mark Scheifele continues to play a strong 2 way game, picking up a couple more assists to put him on pace for a 60+ campaign. For once he did struggle in the face-off circle, ending the night with a 45.5% success rate.
  • The rest of the Winnipeg Jets were great on face-offs, with David Gustafsson (75%), Vladislav Namestnikov (60%), and Adam Lowry (53.3%) all over 50%.
  • Another great game by the Josh Morrissey & Dylan DeMelo pairing. +2 in 22 to 24 minutes of ice-time. The 3rd pairing also played well last night, with Dylan Samberg & Nate Schmidt finishing with a +1 rating in 14 to 16 minutes.
  • While he wasn’t overly busy to start the game, Connor Hellebuyck continues to be in top form. Turned aside 24 of 25 (.960%) and never even saw the puck that did go by him.
  • Gabriel Vilardi continues his recent goal a game trend, popping in his 7th of the season and the marker ended up being the game-winner.

Talk about going into the Christmas break on a high note….the Winnipeg Jets have played near-perfect over these past 5 games. Let’s hope they can keep the torrid pace up when games start up again.

NEXT GAME: Winnipeg Jets @ Chicago Blackhawks – Wednesday, December 27th @ 8:00 pm Central

Just realized that I totally forgot that the Manitoba Moose were also playing last night (lost 3 to 1 to Iowa). Will definitely have to watch it, as Brad Lambert wasn’t in the lineup for some reason. Also, Nikita Chibrikov picked up his 9th goal of the season and Chaz Lucius had a helper on the PP marker.

Enjoy the holidays everyone!! Feel free to pop by for updates on how Winnipeg Jets’ prospects are doing at the World Juniors and Spengler Cup tournaments.

Looking for an easy way to support Arctic Ice Hockey Use our Affiliate Link when shopping hockey merch this holiday season!

Looking for an easy way to support Arctic Ice Hockey?
Use our Affiliate Link when shopping hockey merch this holiday season!

Talking Points