Back on November 28th the Winnipeg Jets visited TD Garden in Boston and played a very good game against the always strong Boston Bruins. The Jets stayed with the Bruins all night, put up quite a fight, and stayed with the Bruins through regulation and into overtime. Just 2 and a half minutes into overtime however Dougie Hamilton crossed the Blue line and fired a shot into the top part of the net past Michael Hutchinson giving Boston a 2-1 overtime win. Since then the Jets have lost their top 4 defenseman, and their blue line has been a Picasso Jigsaw puzzle, with a bunch of seemingly random pieces fitting together and working. The Jets have kept their playoff position and have hardly seen any dip in their play, while the B’s have stayed pretty constant, continuing to struggle to reach the form they have been at for years now. Still one of the toughest teams to play against, the Bruins visit Winnipeg for a cross Conference match up, Lets Go!
The Boston Bruins have struggled this season, especially compared to a lot of the success they have enjoyed in past seasons. The Bruins currently sit in sixth in the Atlantic division and are outside of the playoff picture. The biggest problem for Boston has been injuries, just recently however they seem to have regained their full strength and it will be interesting to see how their results change now that they are healthy. The biggest difference for the Bruins, both literally and figuratively, may be Zdeno Chara. Chara who battled injuries since the start of the season has returned recently and looks to be a difference on the Bruins Blue line. Chara is a former Norris Trophy winner and the most physically imposing player in the NHL, at nearly 7 ft on skates, Chara can be a game changer and when he is on, and a near impossible guy to get around. The Bruins look to their health to finally turn things around and that begins Friday night.
The Winnipeg Jets did what they had to do Tuesday getting a 5-1 dominating win over the Buffalo Sabres. This is the kind of dominating performance the Jets have been missing for years but now have two recently, including the 6-2 drubbing of the Colorado Avalanche a couple weeks ago. Though this came against a team that is considered one of the leagues worst, the Sabres were on a bit of a run before being thumped by Winnipeg. the performance, despite the amount of injuries the Jets have suffered, makes Winnipeg look like a real contender, as long as they can get through the injuries that just seem to keep piling up. The most recent casualty again came on the Blue line when Mark Stuart was injured during a fight at the end of the game. This now puts the top 4 defensemen on the shelf for the Jets and forced Kevin Cheveldayoff into making a move. He accomplished that Thursday adding defenseman Jay Harrison from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a sixth round pick. The former Canes assistant captain brings some grit and veteran leadership to the table, as well as a familiarity to Head Coach Paul Maurice who worked with Harrison in Carolina. Harrison looks to make his debut for Winnipeg Friday and will try and help fill in for all the missing pieces on the Jets back end. Winnipeg will need another strong effort from the entire roster if they want to be in this game with the Bruins.
Goaltending: With even more changes to the Jets blue line, they will rely even more heavily on the goaltenders. Whether it be Ondrej Pavelec or Michael Hutchinson the Jets will lean on their back end to make some big stops and bail out the team when they need it. Since the number 1 blue liner at this point was a forward just a few weeks ago, the Jets do need some help back there.
More New Faces: The Jets welcome another new face to the Blue line with the addition of Jay Harrison. Harrison is a veteran of over 300 NHL games. Over that career he has notched 21 goals, 49 assists and 337 penalty minutes. The 6’4 211 pounder brings a tough and experienced veteran to the Blue line. The Jets will look to him to be able to fill the shoes and minutes of some of the guys they’ve lost.
Keep it going: How the Jets have continued to win is confounding to everyone who is paying attention to the NHL. If any other team lost their top 4 D-men it is doubtful they would be 6-1-3 in their last 10. The Jets have relied on their goaltending, strong play from call-ups, and a surge from their offense which has really helped. Mark Scheifele has led the offensive explosion with 2 three point games in the last week, the first 3 point games of his career.
Ondrej Pavelec (10-8-4) GAA: 2.27 SV% .916
Tuukka Rask (12-9-3) GAA: 2.52 SV% .914
Enstrom, WPG, (LBI) out
Trouba, WPG, (Undisclosed) out
Bogosian, WPG, (LBI) out
Stuart, WPG, (LBI) out
Gange, BOS, (Personal Reasons) day-to-day
McQuaid, BOS, (Broken Thumb) out
Jets even the season series and take 3 of for points from Bruins over the year.
Jets 3 Bruins 1
Become an MVP with Winnipeg Whiteout and never miss a thing.