When a team is the toast of the league and running away with the NHL’s President’s Trophy, it is difficult to see that team as anything but an unstoppable force.
On Thursday night in Winnipeg, however, when the Boston Bruins face the Jets, it won’t be about how Winnipeg will try to manage the league’s juggernaut. It will instead be about how the Bruins can find a way back to playing the caliber of hockey they are capable of.
This is just the second time this season that Boston has put together a rough stretch. The Bruins were winless over three games at the end of January. Right now, they are in the midst of picking up just a single victory over their last four contests, last losing Tuesday night, 6-3, in Chicago.
“It’s two stretches that we haven’t had it. The first one I thought it was physical fatigue. This one, there is no reason for physical fatigue and we look like we’re tired,” said Bruins coach Jim Montgomery on the team’s mental focus. “We’ve just got to get back to our standards … we’ve been breaking.”
“We’re disconnected. We’re not playing the right way. We’re cheating and, I think, this league is going to humble you if you do that,” said captain Patrice Bergeron after the Blackhawks defeat. “There’s a lot of things we can learn from these past couple of games.”
The Jets have returned home for a quick one-game homestand, coming off a 5-3 loss to the Hurricanes on Tuesday in Carolina that wrapped up a swing through the southeast United States.
Winnipeg has started to look a lot closer to the team that was previously in first place in the Western Conference. Right now, the Jets are the current holders of the final wild-card spot, nearly teetering out of playoff positioning.
The Jets were back-to-back winners Saturday and Sunday in Florida and Tampa, respectively.
“That’s the best game we played on the road trip,” Jets coach Rick Bowness said after Tuesday’s game in Raleigh. “The team game was really, really good … Did a couple of guys have a tough night? Yeah. That’s going to happen. What do you do? You move on and get ready for Boston Thursday night.”
Mark Scheifele, Kyle Connor and Nino Niederreiter sat for a big portion of the second period for not generating enough momentum, Bowness explained.
“We didn’t deserve to play. We just weren’t simply good enough,” said Niederreiter. “We weren’t engaged. We weren’t doing the job we were supposed to do. We deserved it. (Bowness) made that message pretty clear. “
Bowness will have to hope that message will lead to better efforts over the rest of the season, because the Jets need wins.
Winnipeg defenseman Josh Morrissey and center Pierre-Luc Dubois are likely to return to the lineup from injury for Thursday night’s tilt.
There is also a good chance Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo will be back after missing Tuesday’s game in Chicago.
–Field Level Media