Jets fall 3-2 in OT to Bruins

- September 26th, 2013

Seven down, one to go.

The NHL pre-season that we couldn’t wait to get started can’t come to an end soon enough, it seems.

On a night where the top line and possibly the top or second D pairing sat out for the Winnipeg Jets, the Boston Bruins (minus a great deal of their regulars) earned a 3-2 overtime win at MTS Centre.

With the loss, the Jets record fell to 1-3-3 but there were a few things in the contest that were more troubling than the record itself.

The biggest was an incredibly slow start out of the gate. Believe the Jets were getting out-shot 14-3 at one point and when the Jets did manage quality scoring chances, they rifled them high or wide of the net. Sure, it’s a new season but that’s one trend the Jets need to stop right now.

Brad Marchand made a deft pass to find Patrice Bergeron in the slot as the Bruins took a 1-0 lead just 3:54 into the contest but before the period was out, a Jacob Trouba point shot hit a Bruins’ defender in front and landed on the stick of Devin Setoguchi, who rifled home a shot from the slot to even the score at 17:02.

The Jets actually took the lead in the 2nd as Grant Clitsome made a smart cross-ice dump-in to spring loose Mark Scheifele, who showed great speed down the right wing to retrieve the puck and then used his soft hands to make a strong move to the backhand to beat Niklas Svedberg at 4:21 of the 2nd. (For those who had asked, Scheifele said it was not a designed play, he was just in the right place at the right time).

But just 2:01 later, a long wrister from Ryan Spooner from just inside the blue-line made it past a screen of Mark Fraser and tied the game once again, setting the stage for a big third period — which ultimately settled nothing.

In the 4-on-4 overtime, Dustin Byfuglien had the puck along the left-wing boards and tried to make an ill-advised cross-ice feed that was intercepted, leading to an odd-man rush the other way.

Although Spooner’s backhand pass was in the skates of Loui Eriksson, the smooth Swede kicked the puck up to his stick in one motion and beat Ondrej Pavelec up high for the winner at 1:46 of the extra session.

Eriksson made the play look easy but it was not. Given the market he was playing in, some folks don’t know the value of Eriksson. Yes, dealing Tyler Seguin may have been tough but the Bruins are probably a better team than they were last year when they lost in the sixth game of the Stanley Cup final.

Eriksson could give the Bruins 30 goals and 80 points and he’s also an excellent defensive player. So smart and paired with Bergeron the Bruins might actually have two Selke candidates playing on the same line

But I digress.

Byfuglien shouldn’t have forced the pass. He knows that.

As for the game itself, the Jets best line was Jim Slater with Chris Thorburn and Eric Tangradi. They were the only line really going in the first period, setting a physical tone. Thorburn’s been solid in both his games and it was important for Tangradi to have a strong showing after missing some time due to injury.

Although I’ve been saying that I expect the Jets to carry 13F, 8D, 2G out of the gate, it’s possible that both Thorburn and Anthony Peluso, who had another strong showing himself could be on the squad. It all depends on how high a value the Jets are going to place on toughness as they move to Western Conference. They may want some insurance in that department. Not just for the sake of having another fighter but they’re trying to be a tougher team to play against and both Thorburn and Peluso can play a physical style of game.

I’ve written plenty of praise for Trouba since his tough debut, so I’ll keep it brief but he handled himself very well on this night, playing more than 23 minutes on the back end on a pairing with Mark Stuart.

He was on the ice for the first goal against as he and Stuart got caught on their opposite sides and Bergeron snuck into the slot. However, Trouba looked calm and composed on the first unit PP with Byfuglien and made a lot of smart reads and crisp passes on breakouts.

Trouba also picked up another assist and after blocking a shot with his left knee in overtime, he left the ice in pain but I asked him about it after the game and he said he was fine.

Scoring the pretty goal seemed to lift a weight off the shoulders of Scheifele, who looks like he can’t wait to get the regular season going. He admitted it was big to get a goal finally but noted once again that he would have rather had a win and that scoring was only part of what he needs to focus on.

Scheifele scored a goal but was minus-2 in the game. However, with his confidence bolstered and the fact the trio of Olli Jokinen (despite a second assist)-Evander Kane-Michael Frolik struggled to find chemistry again, you have to wonder if Jets head coach Claude Noel isn’t tempted to try Scheifele with Setoguchi and Kane in the pre-season finale.

That’s what I would do, but I’m not the coach.

As for the third-line battle, that’s another one I’ll be watching closely. Could be Tangradi, could be Matt Halischuk, could be James Wright, though I think he’ll slip down to fourth with Slater and either Thorburn and Peluso.

The pairing of Paul Postma and Adam Pardy didn’t have a banner night (both were minus-1) in their own zone and could find themselves in the press box on Friday night as well. Postma did have two shots on goal (one on a dandy feed from Setoguchi) and three blocked shots but also three giveaways. Pardy had three hits and a takeaway.

The Jets have one final pre-season tilt on Friday night at Credit Union Centre in Saskatoon. Should be a good crowd on hand and from the sound of things, both squads plan to dress close to what’s going to be their opening-day lineup, so the folks in attendance should see a good show.

I’ve got a 5 am wake-up call looming for a 7 am flight, so I’ll check in with you from Saskatoon tomorrow.

And don’t forget to join us for our first weekly live chat of the season. I’ll post the link in the morning but it’s at 2 pm CT, just like it was all of last season.

Categories: Hockey

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