JGD #25: Battling the big, bad bullies of Boston

The Jets make their way to Beantown to wrap-up their three
game road trip against the Boston Bruins. The Bruins have been a team who has
struggled with injuries all season and have not had a fully healthy lineup
since the early part of October. The Jets will have to capitalize on the Bruins
young players if they want to have a chance of leaving Massachusetts with two
points.

Winnipeg has won their first two games of this short road
trip in the Northeastern part of the States, handing defeats to two of the
east’s bottom feeders, the Buffalo Sabres and Columbus Blue Jackets. Tonight is
going to be a test for Winnipeg, even with the amount of key players hurt for
the Bruins.

The Bruins, despite all their injuries, are still a team
fighting for playoff contention in the Eastern Conference holding a record of
13-9-1. With this record the Bruins are sitting fourth in the Atlantic Division
and first in the Wild Card race with 27 points. I have reason to believe that when
this team is completely healthy, it can be a juggernaut in the East.

This is the first of two meetings this season between the
Jets and Bruins. Since moving from Atlanta to Winnipeg before the 2011-12
season, the Jets have won four of nine games against the Bruins, but have yet
to win a game in Boston. Could tonight be the night?


LINES

Lines provided by Daily Faceoff

Jets Forwards

  
Ladd-Little-Wheeler

  
Kane- Scheifele -Byfuglien

  
Halischuk-Perreault-Frolik

  
Thorburn-Slater-Peluso

Mathieu Perreault is expected to return to the Jets lineup
in tonight’s game, but will not return to the second line with Evander Kane and
Dustin Byfuglien. Instead he will centre the third line of Matt Halischuk and
Michael Frolik. I personally like this decision because he isn’t expected to
play as many minutes as he would on the second line and he can flourish in his
puck-mover role on a line with two guys who need to shoot the puck more.

Adam Lowry will sit in the press box for the first time in
his NHL career, as he will be serving a one game suspension for a hit from
behind he put on Patrick Kaleta in Winnipeg’s most recent game against the
Sabres. Lowry’s big body is going to be missed in a game like tonight’s against
a team that is known for their size, strength and toughness.

Winnipeg’s top line is starting to find their groove after
a tough first couple of games together. On this road trip, the line of Bryan
Little (2g 1a), Blake Wheeler (0g 2a) and Andrew Ladd (1g 2a) have combined for
eight points in two games. This line will have to keep up the pace for the Jets
to remain a playoff team in the tough Western Conference.


Jets Defence

  
Stuart-Trouba

  
Clitsome-Bogosian

  
Pardy-Postma

 

  
Hutchinson

  
Pavelec

Michael Hutchinson will be getting his sixth start of the
season tonight against his former team. Hutchinson was taken in the third round
(77th overall) of the 2008 NHL draft by the Boston Bruins, but was
allowed to go to free agency after his rookie contract expired in 2013.
Hutchinson has been red-hot in the month of November, winning four of five
games he’s played in and allowing just one goal in those five games. He has won
all four of his starts in this time and lost a game in overtime 4-3, where he
came in relief of Ondrej Pavelec.

Jacob Trouba has started to break out of his sophomore
slump on this road trip, adding three assists in the past two games for the
Jets. The 20-year-old from Rochester had just two goals and two assists in his
first 22 games this season. His offensive production is another factor that
will help the Jets maintain their playoff position.

Toby Enstrom will be sitting out his third straight game
with a lower-body injury, but has been skating with the team in practice. The
Jets next game isn’t until Wednesday next week, so Enstrom could be good to go
by then.


Bruins Forwards

  
Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

  
Lucic-Soderberg-Eriksson

  
Smith-Kelly-Griffith

  
Paille-Campbell-Gagne

For a team that’s battled injuries all season and is still
missing one of their best centremen in David Krejci, this is a scary lineup to
face on your third game of a road trip.

Patrice Bergeron is one of the best faceoff guys in the
league, and you know all four Jets centres are going to be in a tough battle at
the dot. Bergeron leads the team in points with 16 and has a 58.5 faceoff
percentage, which is third in the league. The highest Jets in this stat is
Bryan Little who is 50th in the NHL with 49.4 FO%.

This is a forward core built on leadership and depth, of
the 12 forwards playing in tonight’s contest; nine have Stanley Cup rings,
(eight of which won it with the Bruins in 2011.) Not a bad leadership group for
young guns David Pastrnak and Seth Griffith.


Bruins Defence

  
Seidenberg-Krug

  
Morrow-Hamilton

  
Bartkowski-Miller

 

  
Rask

  
Svedberg

The Bruins defence has been able to churn out NHL quality
defencemen at an outstanding rate. Sure they’re missing two longtime Bruins
(Zdeno Chara and Adam McQuaid) on the point due to injury. But Seidenberg has
been a great leader to the young rearguards in Boston since his return to the
lineup.

Gone are guys like Johnny Boychuk (Islanders), Andrew
Ference (Oilers) and Tomas Kaberle (obscurity). In is the new group of d-men,
whom Claude Julien can feel confident in on a night-to-night basis.


PREDICTIONS

Game Day Prediction: The Jets
have a lot of things going against them in tonight’s game, the have yet to win
at the TD Gardens, this is their third game of the road trip and they’re
playing a tough physical team in the Bruins. But I think that Coach Maurice
will rally the team and get that first win in Boston, before heading back to
Winnipeg for a little break. Jets eke one out in a shootout 3-2.

Obvious Prediction: Michael Hutchinson
does not skate onto the ice to a chorus of boos, because the Bruins fans have
no idea who he is or that he was even a prospect of their team.

Not So Obvious Prediction: Bruins forward
Gregory Campbell blocks a shot from Jacob Trouba and breaks his leg again; he
gets up and finishes his shift just like he did in Game 3 of the 2013 NHL
playoffs. Helping cement himself as one of the toughest SOBs in the NHL.

  • Kevin McCartney

    One of the problems with Claude Noel is that he refused to ice the common sense lineup, which often included a different goalie than Pavelec. Even the team’s corsi numbers were better with Montoya last year, never mind the save rate. The same isn’t true so far this season (51% with Pav, 49% with Hutch), but obviously the ‘backup’s’ save rate is 20 points higher so it seems like the decision is obvious until the kid goes cold. Nice to see a coach making the common sense choice.