Jets set for home finale against Bruins

- April 10th, 2014

Michael Hutchinson is getting a shot to face the organization that drafted him in the third round in 2008.

The man who started the campaign as the No. 5 guy on the Winnipeg Jets depth chart will be in goal against the Boston Bruins on Thursday night at MTS Centre.

Hutchinson kept his pre-game thoughts to himself – something he also did before making his NHL debut on Monday – but several players in the Jets’ dressing room expressed their excitement for getting another look at the netminder who made 16 saves against the Minnesota Wild but wasn’t overworked.

Jets head coach Paul Maurice expects Hutchinson to be a little busier than he was against the Wild and he’s interested to see how the youngster responds.

Jets forward Blake Wheeler gave a brutally honest answer when asked if the team is focused on having fun as they play the final two games of the regular season.

“It’s been a really disappointing season on pretty much every account. There’s always something to play for, there’s really no excuse for me for (anyone) to dog it the last two games. You have plenty of time starting on Saturday to do whatever you want. You should be able to bring it for two more games and I hope that from top to bottom, we can put two solid performances in,” said Wheeler. “You earn the right to have fun and we haven’t earned that right. I don’t have a whole lot of fun coming to the rink right now and I don’t believe you should either. You look across the building and that team has earned the right to have fun, they’ve paid their dues.

“They come to the rink every day and it’s fun for them because they know what they’re going to get from everyone and they get results doing it. We’ll get there one day, but we’re not there yet. To answer your question, I don’t want to see a whole lot of smiles right now. It shouldn’t be fun. This (being out of the playoffs again) isn’t fun.”

Maurice put it this way.

“You want your team to compete at an exceptionally high level and then learn how to have fun doing that,” said Maurice. “So it should be fun, but we haven’t got the first (part) of that down yet. We’ve got to learn how to enjoy the game, enjoy the pressure.

“Yesterday makes enjoyment very difficult today and you can’t shower off the feeling of being in a spoiler role. (The Bruins) have got the Presidents’ Trophy locked up and you’re done in two days. Nobody is having here.”

Although the Bruins don’t have much to play for in terms of the standings, they’re a group that doesn’t take many nights off and are looking to keep sharp during their final three games of the regular season.

“It doesn’t matter who is in or out of the lineup, we have a system and if we execute it, we have a good chance of winning the hockey game,” said Bruins defenceman Torey Krug, who has 14 goals and 38 points in 76 games this season. “It’s just about fine-tuning everything and making sure we’re ready for the playoffs. We’ve got to make sure we protect the puck and do the things that are the strengths of our team, like getting in on the forecheck and playing solid defence. That’s just what we try to do.”

Krug wasn’t about to pump his own tires when I asked him what it was like to be involved in the Calder Trophy discussion.

“I don’t even focus on that really, I’m focused on the team,” he said. “We have a good team here, we can make a lot of good things happen. I’m just focusing on what we can do to put ourselves in a good position for the playoffs.”

Krug might be a rookie, but he’s already well-versed in The Bruin Way, where the team comes before everything else.

Speaking of rookies, since I had the day off yesterday, this is my first chance to mention that 2013 7th round pick (190th overall) Brenden Kichton was named to the American Hockey League’s All-rookie team.

The skilled blue-liner has 10 goals and 45 points in 72 games for the St. John’s IceCaps this season.

“He’s a great guy. We knew he was a great offensive player, but we didn’t expect the year that he had. He’s been awesome for us,” said Jets forward Eric O’Dell, who spent the bulk of the season with the IceCaps and will return for the Calder Cup playoffs. “It couldn’t happen to a better guy. He deserves it. I’m happy for him.”

As for O’Dell, he’s moving to the wing this evening in a chance to continue to showcase his versatility during his audition to see if he can earn a full-time spot with the Jets next season.

“I know I’ve played the wing before and I’m looking to have a big game tonight,” said O’Dell, who has three goals and seven points in 28 NHL games this season. “It’s good to show them I can play two positions.”

On a programming note, I’ll be joining a special panel discussion on the TSN Jets pre-game show where a number of topics about the current season and the future of the Jets will be discussed. That should air right around 6:50 p.m.

I will also be on the CJOB Jets’ pre-game show for the final time this season, beginning just after 6 p.m.

Chris Kelly (back) is out and it’s likely Patrice Bergeron (who didn’t skate) might also sit out for the Bruins, Jarome Iginla should be in and Chad Johnson is in goal (even thought Tuukka Rask left the ice first), but there are some unanswered questions with the lineup that remain on defence, so here’s my best guess at how the two teams will start:

UPDATE: No Bergeron or D Zdeno Chara during pre-game warm-up, so it looks like they’re out.

JETS

Evander Kane-Bryan Little-Michael Frolik
Eric Tangradi-Olli Jokinen-Blake Wheeler
Matt Halischuk-Jim Slater-Eric O’Dell
Carl Klingberg-Patrice Cormier-Anthony Peluso

Mark Stuart-Jacob Trouba
Toby Enstrom-Paul Postma
Adam Pardy-Zach Redmond

Michael Hutchinson (Ondrej Pavelec)

BRUINS

Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Jarome Iginla
Brad Marchand-Ryan Spooner-Reilly Smith
Daniel Paille-Carl Soderberg-Loui Eriksson
Jordan Caron-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton

Matt Bartkowski-Dougie Hamilton
Andrej Meszaros-Johnny Boychuk
Torey Krug-Kevan Miller

Chad Johnson (Tuukka Rask)

Categories: Hockey

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