Bruins Down Jets, Set Sights On Montreal
Last night the Boston Bruins welcomed the Winnipeg Jets into town with a 5-3 win. This was the first game without winger Brad Marchand who was handed a five game ban by NHL Disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan following a dangerous clipping incident during Saturdays game with the Vancouver Canucks. Marchand clipped Canucks defenseman Sami Salo sending him head over heels and falling on his shoulder resulting in an injury which undoubtedly helped along the suspensions length. Brad is a fan favorite here in Boston but his recklessness can be concerning given his importance to the teams two way structure. To be truly successful he is going to have to learn how to walk that fine line between playing with an edge and be a dirty player who hurts his team. I don’t believe Brad to be dirty in particular but adjustments have to be made.
I am always excited to see the Jets in Boston even if it is only their second visit back since becoming a re-established franchise. The Bruins played an excellent opening period but were met with similar intensity through the midway point. The Jets cracked the scoring column first with an Andrew Ladd deflection that beat Tuukka Rask low stick sides. Fortunately for the Bruins; Milan Lucic started a rush and was able to pass to an open Nathan Horton crashing the net to tie the game with roughly forty seconds left in the period.
The second period saw the Jets get a goal from former Bruin Blake Wheeler who had been on a tear coming into last nights game. The Bruins would catch yet another break when Shawn Thornton flew out of the penalty box to grab an errant puck giving himself a breakaway which would eventually turn into a penalty shot. I don’t know what many Bruins fans were thinking when Thornton got ready for his first career penalty shot but the results were nothing short of spectacular. Shawn showed impressive hands and deked Jets goaltender Odrej Pavelec to tie the game at two. This was also a bit of karma for the Bruins as Thornton had been called minutes before for a “phantom” illegal hit to the head penalty. The Jets would capitalize on yet another Bruins turnover minutes later resulting in Winnipeg forward Eric Fehr getting his first of the season.
Boston stormed back in the third period and got three unanswered goals from Nathan Horton, Tyler Seguin, and Benoit Pouliot. Pouliot has stepped up admirably in the wake of Marchand’s flu symptoms prior to the Canucks game, and his suspension afterwords. Benoit has scored 1 goal, 3 assists, and is a plus 5 in his last three games. It should also be noted that Tuukka Ras played extremely well in this game despite the three goals against. The three goals Rask allowed were of the impossible to stop variety as they were all deflections as a result of excellent offensive positioning on the Jets’ part. Another promising sign for the Bruins and their fans is the recent return to form of David Krejci and Nathan Horton. Krejci has 3 goals, 7 assists, and a plus 5 in his last 5 games, while Horton has 5 goals, 1 assist, and is a plus 3 in the same span. I have said before that these players need to improve their play if the bruins are going to be successful and they have done just that.
While the Winnipeg Jets always play the Bruins tough, it is their next opponent the Montreal Canadiens which provides a more difficult match-up. Despite the Canadiens’ recent struggles and coaching controversies they still manage to be a thorn in the Bruins side. The Canadiens are well out of the playoff race at the moment and are looking to improve under new coach Randy Cunneyworth. Cunneyworth is the first non french speaking coach of the Habs in a long time and his presence has angered the Montreal faithful as they want the Canadiens to “be more French”. Tim Thomas will likely be in net for the Bruins as he will undoubtedly go up against Carey Price who himself always rises to the occasion every time these two teams meet. Though struggling the Canadiens pose a tough test for Boston as they continue to dominate the NHL.