Months ago, a result like last night would have been a miracle.
Weeks ago, it would have been more than a pleasant surprise to come out of the West with points in every game of a week-long roadie.
Last night, the Bruins did what many of us have come to expect - they dug in, took advantage of the opportunities they were given, and nearly snatched a victory from the jaws of defeat.
Boston Bruins - Positives and Negatives
Boston showed a strong early forecheck, and sustained that far-forward defensive pressure frequently if not throughout the game. The problem, there, is that they ended up spending more time chasing the puck in the offensive zone. A tactic to tire out the fast Winnipeg forwards.
The first powerplay unit of Ryan Donato - Patrice Bergeron - Brad Marchand/David Pastrnak - Torey Krug looked really good early. passed easily and quickly to generate shot chances. Later in the game, they distributed the wealth by getting goals from Danton Heinen, Pasta, and Krug. No, Heinen wasn’t on the first PP unit, but Bruce basically just used his second line of Heinen, Krejci and Wingels as his second unit. Who cares - Torey Krug had over six minutes of PP time.
On the flipside, Boston needed to slow down their zone exits, but Winnipeg was all over players with the puck and spooked it out of the B’s hands several times. Especially, Boston forwards leaving the defensive zone were not given a lot of time to make a play.
Winnipeg Jets - Positives and Negatives
Blake Wheeler is having an incredible season, leading the Jets in points by nearly 20. He was all over the ice and Patrice Bergeron had the assignment to muffle him in overtime. 66 ASSISTS. Jesus. Also, who the hell is Brandon Tanev? He scored the 5th, 6th and 7th goals of his season last night. Not the offensive force we were expecting, but hey, when the Bruins have to cover notable forwards Patrik Laine, Mark Scheifele, Wheeler... PLUS recent standouts Nikolaj Ehlers and Kyle Connor, well... somebody’s gonna be open sometime.
Goalie Connor Hellebuyck held off any semblance of a charge from Boston and his defense did a decent job of forcing shots to be taken from a distance. More than half of the B’s shots came from the perimeter. The Jets, meanwhile, were almost even with the B’s in quality scoring chances from the slot/circles.
The only negative that really stands out is the decision to challenge the Heinen play as offsides. It was a very close call, yes; and, hard to argue with wanting to correct it for a goal. However, they were already down a man, and the bench-minor penalty to put them on a 5-on-3 kill was brutal. The challenge may have been the right decision, but it was the worst possible outcome for Winnipeg.
At many turns this season, there might have been moments where you were ready to write off this season as a part of the long-term rebuilding plan that the Bruins have been softly selling as a ‘youth movement’. Then, you see games like last night’s - where the roughshod Bruins take on a West-leading team and put them against the ropes, squeezing at least a point from what could have been a lopsided loss.
Happily, it’s getting less and less practical to count the Bruins out of anything at this point as they approach the first spot in the East.
Speaking of which...
SEE YOU THURSDAY.