By Allan Muir
Some thoughts on Monday’s matinee in Boston:
• It was a sloppy, hard-hitting, entertaining game, with the Bruins winning 2-1 in the shootout. Chris Thorburn opened the scoring for the Jets in the first before Brad Marchand evened it up, deflecting home a sensational pass from Tyler Seguin. Patrice Bergeron earned the extra point in the skills competition.
• Winnipeg did a nice job of hanging around all afternoon, and getting a point on the road against a Cup contender is a big deal for a team that struggled last season away from the MTS Centre. The Jets showed lots of compete, but didn’t create chances — either quality or quantity — the way the Bruins did. Winnipeg managed just one shot while going 0-for-4 on the power play, including a pair of opportunities in OT. No excuses for that.
• Both teams are likely to talk about how bad bounces and a lack of puck luck cost them, but a lot of that comes down to rust. Take Brad Marchand. Outside of his goal, he made about half-a-dozen great half-plays. He’d create something with his hustle or an active stick, but then would lose the puck or fail to make an effective pass . That’s the way it went on both sides.
• Nobody’s more important to Winnipeg’s playoff hopes than Ondrej Pavelec, and that’s not a thought that shuffles Jets fans comfortably off to sleep every night. He looked like a post-tramautic Denis Lemieux in the first, flopping and fumbling in reaction to shots that should have been easily handled, but settled in as the game wore on. He had no chance on the Marchand goal, and made a couple of big stops late, turning away a Seguin blast during a late-third penalty kill and a Bergeron shorthanded chance early in OT. Inconsistency didn’t cost him today, but it’s plagued him in the past. It’s something he needs to get a handle on for this team to get in the mix. Mixing in a shootout save every now and then wouldn’t hurt, either.
• Tuukka Rask: two games, two goals-against and not a single mention of Tim Thomas to be heard. His big moment was was a scintillating glove save to rob Kyle Wellwood on a first period breakaway that kept the deficit at one. After that, it was a business-like performance that ended with a pair of stops in the shootout. He’ll never match Thomas for charisma or entertainment value, but he can carry this team deep into the postseason.
• Solid point by Boston’s broadcast crew: The 2011-12 B’s lacked the voracious net drive that characterized the 2010-11 champs. They’ve been a lot more courageous through the first two games, routinely going up the gut and into the paint. They look like a hungry team.
• Looks like Bergeron’s game is rubbing off on Seguin. He made a couple of great defensive reads today, including one where he stripped the puck off Andrew Ladd at the Winnipeg blue line that led directly to Boston’s goal. That pre-lockout deal that Seguin signed is going to look like a steal when next season rolls around.
• If Mark Scheifele wants to stick with Winnipeg past his fifth game, he needs to do more than simply not screw up. Not that he looked overmatched today, but he just doesn’t register when you aren’t specifically looking for him. When you do notice him, he’s usually on the ice after being knocked off the puck. His inability to outwork Adam McQuaid down low nullified a promising cycle in the final minute of OT. No arguing the potential, but the kid needs time to build up his strength.
• No such worries for Dougie Hamilton. Sure, he needs to build strength too, but he does so many other things at an NHL level that the B’s will let him find his way at this level. Great feet, great shot, good reads and plenty physical.
• Ron Hainsey’s become a whipping boy in Winnipeg, but he and partner Mark Stuart looked solid. They did a nice job keeping the Bruins to the outside most of the afternoon. Evander Kane showed off his wheels and his net presence, but at some point he has to learn to make better use of his teammates. Had to be at least three occasions that he chose to skate the puck when a crisp pass would have opened up the attack zone.