Bruins Game 50 Preview: Winnipeg Jets

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

Boston Bruins hockey is returning tonight after a nine-day break from games due to the mandatory by-week and the All-Star Weekend. In the final game before the time off, the Bruins lost 3-2 to the New York Rangers, a game that saw goaltender Tuukka Rask leave the game with a concussion, resulting in him being placed on retroactive injured reserve yesterday. Boston is two points behind the Montreal Canadiens for third place in the Atlantic division, but do have two games in hand.

The Winnipeg Jets, on the other hand, have already returned from their break from the NHL schedule, coming away with a 3-1 loss last night against the Philadelphia Flyers where the Jets failed to get any solid scoring chances. Winnipeg is still at the top of the NHL standings and will be looking to advance further along. Right now, they are fourth in the league standings and are tied with the Nashville Predators with sixty-four points for first in the Central Division. A win against the Bruins would give them the sole lead on the position with still two games in hand on Nashville.

Starting Goaltenders:

BOS: Jaroslav Halak (Likely) 13-9-2 2.47 GAA .919 SV% Last Game: 11 Saves in 3-2 Loss vs NYR

WPG: Connor Hellebuyck 21-14-1 2.85 GAA .910 SV% Last Game: 35 Saves in 4-2 Loss vs DAL

Who’s Hot

Former Bruin Blake Wheeler has been on fire this season, again, for the Jets and he will look to continue that against his former team. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound forward has 9-52-61 numbers in only 49 games this year. Wheeler is over an assist-per-game at this point of the season and is second, behind only Nikita Kucherov, for most assists so far this season. Wheeler has four points in his last five games as well.

David Pastrnak also has four points in his last five games, but he also had a good time at the NHL All-Star Weekend, where he won the NHL Accuracy Shooting Competition, hitting all five targets in just over eleven seconds. While the event win has zero impact on actual statistics, it could have very well brought some added momentum and confidence to Pastrnak – especially his shooting.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Terry Lee/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

If Blake Wheeler is getting all the assists, then who on the Winnipeg Jets roster is getting all the goals? The answer – Mark Scheifele. Scheifele is second on the team for points, with fifty-nine, and he leads the Jets for most goals (25). With that said, he has also found success dishing the puck to other players on the ice, racking up 34 assists in addition to the goals. Mark Scheifele has four points in his last five games, but was held pointless last night and will look to continue his success this season tonight.

Before the break, forward David Krejci was really finding his game on a whole new level, scoring at least a point in five consecutive games including a three-point night against the St. Louis Blues on January 17th. Even though he failed to get on the scoresheet against the Rangers, Krejci still has six points in five games and he could very well extend that coming out of the nine-day break.

Who’s Not

Last season, Patrik Laine scored 44 goals and was looking to be the next great scorer in the National Hockey League. However, this season, Laine has struggled to score at the level we are used to during his short NHL career. Laine has 25 goals this season but has no goals in his last four games and earlier in the season, he went on a six-game goalless drought – twice. Patrik was also on the ice for all of the Jets’ goals against last night, finishing with a -3 rating, adding to his team’s worst -12 rating. Laine is needed by the Jets if they want to be a Stanley Cup contender again this year.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (The Canadian Press)

Jaroslav Halak has lost his last three games, including the game where he replaced the injured Tuukka Rask in the game against the Rangers. In those three losses, Halak has a sub-.900 save percentage and has allowed nine goals in that span. With the absence of Rask for tonight’s pivotal game, Halak needs to be on his game – something he has not been able to do in his recent games.

Mathieu Perreault has struggled to add depth scoring for Winnipeg this season, only scoring 10-9-19 totals in 49 games this year and has no points in his last three games. Perreault’s -3 rating on the season is the fourth-lowest on the Jets roster. Depth scoring is big in the NHL this year and he needs to produce more.

Milestone Watch

Boston Bruins:

  • D Zdeno Chara is two goals away from 200 NHL career goals
  • F Brad Marchand is one short-handed goal away (23) from tying Derek Sanderson (24) for second-most SHG in Bruins history
  • F Brad Marchand is one game-winning goal away from taking sole possession of 7th most GWG in Bruins history
  • F Patrice Bergeron is one game-winning goal away from taking sole possession of 3rd most GWG in Bruins history

Winnipeg Jets:

  • F Mathieu Perreault is two points away from 300 NHL career points
  • F Mark Scheifele is one goal away (138) from tying Andrew Ladd (139) for 5th most career goals in Jets history
  • F Mark Scheifele is one game-winning goal away (20) from taking sole possession of 6th most GWG in Jets history

Bruins vs Jets Outlook

The Winnipeg Jets had a poor outing against the Philadelphia Flyers last night and they will be on the hunt for a much better game. The Jets failed to make good passes and were held to the outside of the zone for much of their offensive opportunities. Connor Hellebuyck will be looking to make the final push to the playoffs on a high note and it will most likely start today.

The Bruins will most likely be slow out of the gate due to the break that they are just coming off of and like most teams, will make mistakes early on. The hope is that the team can prevent any real scoring threats by the Jets and can have some big saves by Halak to keep the game close until the offence can come in and produce.

In past games against Winnipeg, the Bruins have had a tough time on the physical side of things, often times getting out-hit by the Jets team that has become known for their size but skill on the puck. Only two players on the entire Jets roster are under 6-feet tall (Nic Petan and Mathieu Perreault). Six players are above 6-foot-4 in height and they use their body effectively.

Speciality teams will be interesting to follow as well. The Bruins have the second-best power-play in the league (27.2% success) while the Jets have the fourth-best power-play (26.1%). On the penalty-kill, the Jets have the tenth-best PK at 81.5% and the Bruins have the fourteenth-best PK percentage at an 80.7% success rate. The B’s have allowed the second-most short-handed goals (10) and the Jets have scored the ninth-most short-handed goals (6).

Puck drop at the TD Garden is scheduled for 7:00pm EST. Below are the projected lines for the game tonight.

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