Jets fall 4-1 to Bruins in Boston

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BOSTON -- Things are coming off the rails for the Winnipeg Jets.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/11/2016 (2202 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

BOSTON — Things are coming off the rails for the Winnipeg Jets.

A swing through some big-time eastern U.S. markets is quickly becoming a road trip mired with problems for the Jets, a hot mess in a 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins on Saturday night.

There’s been a lot of talk about the youthful makeup of Winnipeg’s roster. Well, it looked like men against boys at a raucous TD Garden as the hosts stormed out of the gate and never let up. Boston dominated play in the first period but failed to get a puck past goalie Michael Hutchinson, making his first start in four games and just his second in the last nine.

It was only a matter of time, really.

Matt Beleskey, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron scored in the second period to put a stamp on the inevitable.

Winnipeg managed just 12 shots on, arguably, the best goalie in the world not named Carey Price. Boston’s Tuukka Rask came in sporting a 1.49 goals-against average and a save percentage of .947, and those numbers are even better now.

His workload was ridiculously light as the Jets only fired six pucks at the net with the clubs at even strength. Adam Lowry batted in his fifth goal of the year with just 2:40 left on the clock, the only blemish on Rask’s light night.

Tim Schaller scored Boston’s fourth goal early in the final period.

Hutchinson finished the night with 34 saves.

While there was no great angst over Thursday’s 5-2 defeat in Philadelphia, some hand-wringing after a second-straight loss dropped the club back to the .500 mark (9-9-2) is warranted.

But Jets captain Blake Wheeler called it a one-off and shouldn’t be construed as the start of something disturbing for a Central Division club that still plays three more on the road this week — starting with one at 4 p.m. Sunday in Raleigh, N.C., against the Carolina Hurricanes.

“We just didn’t do a good enough job preparing tonight,” said Wheeler. “You know, one out of 20 (games). Now, we’ve got to find a better way of preparing (for Sunday) and that’s about it. Our effort’s been pretty good all year. We view this as an outlier in 20 games. That’s our challenge, figuring out what went wrong and try not to duplicate it (Sunday).

“That’s the great thing about this league, you get another chance at it tomorrow.”

Winslow Townson / The Associated Press Winnipeg Jets defenseman Toby Enstrom (39) and Boston Bruins' Riley Nash (20 eye a loose puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Boston Saturday.

Coach takes blame

Winnipeg head coach Paul Maurice had much more to say after the defeat than most might have expected.

His club mustered a measly dozen shots, the power-play was 0-for-4, the Bruins dominated in the faceoff circle (39-17), left-winger Nikolaj Ehlers was a minus-3 and his centre, Mark Scheifele, still holding a share of the NHL scoring lead, was a minus-2.

There was a lot of bad to go around, but Maurice shouldered it all. 

“I’ve got two jobs. One is to prepare my hockey team and the other is to run the bench, and that team wasn’t prepared to play and that’s on me,” said Maurice. “I didn’t see it coming, couldn’t make enough adjustments to make it change, couldn’t hide people on the ice enough to keep them off the minus sheet. So, I’m not looking at that room, I look at what I did to get this hockey team ready because it wasn’t good enough for this league.

“We can tear that game apart and just give me a list of what’s involved in a National Hockey League game, from faceoffs to set plays to guys in behind. There isn’t a piece of that game that we were good at. And maybe, if we have to sit here today and get a silver lining, if you’re going to be bad, you might as well be bad in all parts of your game because then you have the hope that you can write that one off.”

Winslow Townson / The Associated Press Boston Bruins' Patrice Bergeron is congratulated by defenseman Zdeno Chara (33) after his goal as Winnipeg Jets' Adam Lowry (17) skates away.

Hung out to dry

Simply put, Hutchinson was the Jets’ best player of the night, and he should expect a sympathy card from teammates offering a collective sorry for the loss.

Hutchinson was the only member of the visiting squad that looked primed and ready for the battle with the Bruins. Out-played and out-shot in the first, Winnipeg’s lackluster start placed a heavy onus on its goaltender, whose best work came during a barrage of shots midway though the period with Boston on a two-man advantage.

Earlier, the 26-year-old Barrie, Ont., native slid across to thwart Bruins right-winger Jimmy Hayes on a wrap-around try, and then snapped out his blocker to turn aside a long deflection by Riley Nash with just over a minute left in the period.

Over the next 40 minutes, the Bruins (11-7-0) continued coming in waves.

“Against Boston they’re going to throw a lot of pucks at the net and that’s what you like. It was unfortunate they were able to get a few by me,” said Hutchinson. “They have a good team, they move the puck well and they fire the puck every chance they get. As a goalie, you just have to be ready for it. 

“We have a good team here. We have a lot of offensive power. Sometimes, games like these happen.”

It’s tough to fault Hutchinson for Beleskey’s marker early in the second. Paul Postma and Patrick Laine both lost puck battles on the wall leading up to the game opener. He likely could have played Marchand’s burst from the wall and across-the-crease deke a little better, although blueliner Josh Morrissey looked a bit statuesque on the play.

Wheeler dismissed any suggestion the goalie was at all culpable. “Hutch wasn’t our problem. You know, 12 shots against 38? Probably not going to get it done.”

NOTES: Jets RW Drew Stafford, recovering from an upper-body injury, participated in Saturday’s morning skate but missed his 14th straight game. He’s close to returning but will likely sit out Sunday’s game (4 p.m.) in Carolina as well. Meanwhile, C Bryan Little, hurt in the season-opener Oct. 13, also skated but is at least a week away, according to coach Paul Maurice. … Winnipeg closes out the trip with games against the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday night and Nashville Predators on Friday.

 

jason.bell@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPJasonBell

Winslow Townson / The Associated Press Winnipeg Jets defenseman Toby Enstrom blocks a shot in front of goalie Michael Hutchinson as Boston Bruins' David Backes watches during the first period Saturday.
Jason Bell

Jason Bell
Sports editor

Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).

History

Updated on Saturday, November 19, 2016 9:08 PM CST: Corrects number of Jets shots.

Updated on Saturday, November 19, 2016 10:22 PM CST: Full writethru, adds quotes.

Updated on Saturday, November 19, 2016 11:03 PM CST: Adds Hutchinson saves.

Updated on Sunday, November 20, 2016 8:42 AM CST: Corrects typos

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