INSIDE HOCKEY » Winnipeg Jets Get Inside! Mon, 22 Sep 2014 03:49:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Photo Gallery: Ice Caps @ Penguins (5/31/14) Mon, 02 Jun 2014 16:58:18 +0000

Eastern Conference Finals Game #5 was held in Wilkes-Barre, PA on Saturday 05/31/14 between the St. John’s Ice Caps and WBS Penguins.  At the 19:44 mark of the 3rd period, WBS Penguins Zach Sill scored the winning to defeat the Ice Caps by a score of 4-2. The Ice Caps lead the series 3 to 5 games.  The “3 Stars of the Game” were WBS Spencer Machacek, #2 WBS Chuck Kobasew, and #1 WBS Zach Sill.  Photos taken by Steve Rusyn for Inside Hockey.

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Photo Gallery: Ice Caps @ Penguins (05/29/14) Fri, 30 May 2014 16:59:08 +0000

  Game #4 of the Eastern Conference Finals between St. John’s Ice Caps and the WBS Penguins was held in Wilkes Barre, PA on 5/29/14.  At the 9:19 mark of the 3rd period STJ Josh Lunden scored the winning goal defeating WBS by a score of 2-1. The “3 Stars of the Game” were #3 STJ Michael Hutchinson, #2 WBS Peter Mannino, and #1 STJ Josh Lunden. Photos were taken by Steve Rusyn for Inside Hockey.

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Jets’ Bad Habits Outweigh Good Tue, 01 Apr 2014 13:09:53 +0000

The questions most might have asked between Saturday night, when the Jets lost a lackluster game in LA, and Monday, were several.

First, could they possibly right their defensive ship in the two intervening days? Second, who would be their goalie, as the twitterverse was predicting after Pavelec got pulled on the weekend that he was done like dinner as far as the ‘Peg was concerned. And third, would the Jets simply do the right thing, act like a winning team, as the coach had said was his formula for them—a tacit yet clear criticism of his predecessor, who apparently hadn’t instilled in them the habits of pros.

Well, here are your answers: not possible, Pavelec, and who knows? If they were doing what a professional team is supposed to be doing off the ice, that didn’t necessarily translate into any success on it.

But that’s not how things looked early. In fact, for the longest time, it looked like this team was the antithesis of the one which dumped a brick on Saturday night in Los Angeles in a 4-2 loss.

They did play a heavy game against Anaheim, moreso than what they had had to do against what is often described as a heavy team in the LA Kings. The hits on Saturday night had been 40-28 in the LA team’s favor. Now, granted, that stat can be influenced by homer off-icers, but still, the numbers Monday were 29 for the home team, 20 for the Jets, a near impossibility given the number of punishing bodychecks leveled, especially in the first two periods.

On the goalie situation, in fact, it wasn’t even Montoya, who had replaced Pavelec on Saturday, who was backing up on this night, but rather someone called Michael Hutchinson. He has no NHL record as of yet, and he never took the ice against the Ducks. That was Pavelec.

And as for habits, well, the Coach, Paul Maurice, didn’t refer to them after the game, but he might as well have: “The overriding sentiment is that when you get into those games and you have that lead, it’s not a matter of sitting down. We stopped making plays.”

His other comments all surrounded the idea of making plays for two periods rather than three. “You cannot kick pucks back into the neutral zone,” he said. “You shouldn’t give up what we gave up in the third period.” That was 24 shots and three goals. By Anaheim getting four in total and tieing the game at that same number, they had the greatest comeback in the history of the franchise. What happened next? Wait for that.

In the meantime, what’s Maurice talking about? The Jets having gotten out to a 4-0 lead by dominating on the ice and in the chances. But then, “We moved the puck through two periods as well as we have, but then we stopped making those plays, making those passes. We threw a lot of pucks back and away, and you can’t give that team the chance to come back at you like that.” But they did come back, those resilient Ducks, after being outshot miserably in the early going. It looked like this—the shots 19-4 for the Jets in period one, and the goals 2-0. The shots by the midway point of P2 were 25-6 and the score 4-0.

The home team was playing loose, and this allowed the Jets to play aggressively. This is a kind of matchup that would never be possible against the Kings, and at the 10:54 mark of period two, when Tangradi potted the team’s fourth goal, it looked to be over. The excitement felt by the large Winnipeg-jersey-wearing contingent was paid off in slumping Anaheim shoulders, both of fans and players.

But then the Jets got complacent. They had been throwing the puck at Freddie Andersen, low shots almost exclusively. Often, the shots were at three-fourths speed, and the idea was for redirections, or havoc in front. It was, obviously, working. But Anaheim scored a late goal, 17:44 into period two, on their tenth shot. Bonino got it, his 20th of the year, on a backhand that went, Gretzky-like, up over the netminder’s far shoulder. The home team went into the dressing room with hope.

They were saying what you’d think they were, according to Corey Perry. “Being down 4-0 is tough to overcome, but we said in here that if we keep pressuring them, keep playing that style that we established in the second half of the second period, no team can play with us. That’s the way we’ve got to keep playing. Get the puck in, get on their D, and we started hitting, and we started getting the puck back.”

In fact, that was simply to take a page out of the Jets’ playbook—they had been doing all the work, all the hitting, all the turning up of loose pucks up to that point.

So the Ducks got moving, coming out in P3 to score on the power play with three minutes gone. Just before that, though, it could have been 4-2 when Koivu stopped a puck with his skate and put it to Palmieri in front. Jets’ goalie Pavelec made a brilliant glove save.

The Ducks got that second goal on the PP, and then put in the next one a minute later with the fans still buzzing about it being 4-2. It remained 4-3 for a long while, though the team kept hammering away, and the Jets kept sagging back.

With 12:30 to go, the shots were Jets 31, Ducks 23, and the play was all in Winnipeg’s end. Winnick sent a puck to Koivu; no luck. The Ducks flung rubber over and again, and there were some handsome saves. Perhaps this is why no mention of the goaltending was featured in any comments after the game, and I heard from Frolik, Maurice, Getzlaf, Perry, and Robidas.

The Ducks pulled their netminder in the last 1:25 and pounded away until Corey Perry scored his 39th. It was a typical Perry goal, and he went keister-over-teakettle over the goalie as the puck slid in. As he said after, “That’s the kind of goal I’m going to score. I’m not going to score a lot of goals from the top of the circles. That’s not my game.”

Just before he got his goal with 22.7 seconds to go, Cogliano had a chance and got smashed into the left post for his troubles. He was trying to capitalize on the fact that the goalie’s stick was lying behind the net.

The OT brought a swift ending, at sixteen seconds. Stephan Robidas, playing in his seventh game for the team, settled a puck down in the low slot and pounded it in. He said after, “The puck started bouncing on me. I didn’t catch it directly. I was just trying to put it on net. I wasn’t picking any corners. There was a lot of traffic in front, but I got lucky and it went in.”

So the Ducks won to extend their point total to 106. This puts them three ahead of the Sharks and a bit further into the safety zone that means they will not play the Kings in round one. Meanwhile the Jets settled for a point and the knowledge that they’re not yet where they need to be in the game. They’ve got talent, if not much defense. What they don’t have is 60 minutes of talent, on both ends of the ice.

The Ducks ended up with a 5-4 score, and if there seems like there’s not a lot of incentive for the Ducks to win having clinched their post-season spot, that’s wrong. It might not seem like a big deal to you East Coasters who don’t get to follow the hockey goings-on out on the left side of the country, but in my opinion, the Ducks don’t want to play LA in the first round. The Anaheim style of play is exciting, and obviously effective, but LA is their nemesis in more ways that just via the imaginary rivalry that the marketers have cooked up in naming their games the “Freeway Faceoff.” While the Ducks have won all but one this year thus far, the Kings are finding their stride and readying for the playoffs with a string of wins, albeit one interrupted Monday evening with the Wild in town.

Fans of the game, let alone the teams, would rather there be more playoff contests than less in the region come April and May. Thus if the Ducks hold on and the Kings remain where the are, it’s likely that a more meaningful matchup, a second-round one, or perhaps even third, will be had. Both teams, if you look at things like this, did their part in assuring that could happen. The Ducks saw Robidas put them up for good early in OT. The Kings blew a game to Minnesota, 3-2.


Bet Sutter wishes he’d never said, “It’s a 3-2 league.”

Please follow my nonsense on twitter @growinguphockey.

And read my new novel, kindly. It’s called Pond Hockey: Rediscovering the Game.

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A Learning Lesson, Say the Jets Sun, 30 Mar 2014 13:19:01 +0000

What I don’t need to tell followers of the Kings is that the team is peaking at the right time. They had won 12 of 15 games since the Olympic break coming into their game with Winnipeg on Saturday night. They had won five straight in recent days, including three in a row on the East coast concluding with a 3-2 win in Pittsburgh on Thursday night. And as Sutter has repeatedly said, it doesn’t matter to him where the team ends up the regular season, “The goal is to make the playoffs.”

At some point, they will admit that they’ve done that, but not yet. In fact, even after the Winnipeg game, he repeated his mantra: “You’re not a playoff team until you make the playoffs.” It’s not caution on the part of the coach, but rather the demand of his players that nothing is presumed. Not whether they’ll play after April 12th, their final regular season game. And not that they will win on any given night. That’s perhaps why, with the Jets in town, they still went with their best lineup—Matt Greene was sitting, as was Jordan Nolan, and in net, Jonathan Quick rather than Martin Jones.

Of course, Jones played on Thursday in Pittsburgh and thus might have been a bit on the tired side for Saturday, but think about that in its own right—LA goes into Pittsburgh having won two of three on their road trip and riding a seven-game road winning streak, and instead of starting their main man, they put in the backup. To win against Washington and Philly, which they had done before this game, didn’t mean very much perhaps—probably no need to send a message to either of those teams for a potential June encounter. But the Pens, well, they might end up running through the East, and thus would be the only obstacle to a second Kings Stanley Cup. So why not show them the money and put in Quick?

But when you don’t, then maybe it means even more that you win, and that’s the message Sutter and his crew ended up sending, whether they realized that they were doing that or not.

So here it is two nights later, and the chances that the LA team would lose to the boys from Winnipeg would, to most statistical minds, seem slight. And yet they put in the number one against them.

In fact, in period one, the Kings faced little challenge in running up three goals on 16 shots. This was helped by a stationary Jets defense and a lot of LA speed. As I’ve said before, both here and on twitter (@growinguphockey), this team is altogether different with Marian Gaborik on the squad. It’s like having him has given Coach Sutter the excuse to lay off the “defense first” mantra that has been both the blessing and the curse of the team since he’s been here, but particularly in the current season.

And Gaborik was up to his magic again versus the Winnipeg team. He assisted on his team’s second and third goals after the first was put in on an angle shot by fourth-liner Trevor Lewis. The second goal was Kopitar’s, a puck he kneed into the net on a rebound. The third, again Kopitar’s on a rebound off a shot that started at the point and went through Gaborik, who put a touch on it, then off the pad of Pavelic in net and out to Kopitar for the tap-in.

So what could the Jets do in the face of this onslaught?

A run-down of the stats shows that in almost every category, the Kings are far superior. But in two, they are one place behind the Jets. Those are the crucial power play and penalty kill. In the former, the Jets are 25th in the league, the Kings 26th. In the latter, the numbers are tenth for the Jets and eleventh for the Kings. Maybe that marginal a difference makes no real difference.

They might have been helped had the game not been played essentially at even strength. There were two minors in the first, one to each team, and neither produced any scoring. In frame two, nobody went to the box. And there was no scoring at all in that period. In the third, there were two Kings penalties and one to the Jets. The visiting team did, actually, bang in a goal with the extra man. But it was not to help, much. More on that in a moment.

So what the Jets tried as an offense was essentially low wristers at a goalie who will almost never lets that kind of shot by him. Quick’s legs flashed time and again in period one to deny the Jets. Period two, they got their brains in gear and started to shoot higher. The problem was, there was no coordinated team attack in place, only one player working the puck in and then another. Bryan Little stole a puck in the neutral zone and went in alone for a backhand shot. Nothing.

Later, Byfuglein went in and tried one from the right side. Nope. Then he got it back and went around the net, came out the left side, and tried it again, with the same result.

The Kings were not spectacular in their chances, and they didn’t take these loose pucks after Quick’s saves and wheel them up ice. Their offense was limited to a few less-than-coordinated attacks that netted seven shots in the period, to the Jets’ four. But then again, they didn’t have to be. They had the game well in hand by this point.

But the third period started out with them even more back on their heels than they’d been in their over-confident second frame. They sat around and watched while the Jets dug a puck out from behind the net and got it to the crease. There, Matt Halischuk banged it in to make the game 3-1.

Michael Frolik created havoc after that, getting the puck to the net a couple of times, including one dangerous shot that went high on Quick, but after another Jets try went out on a long rebound, Tyler Toffoli scored his 12th of the year as he streaked down the left side and fired a long wrister. Good shot, but it should not have gone in. Montoya, playing since the start of period two, was too far back in his net and, inexplicably, was guarding the five-hole. The puck went by his arm.

So one thing is clear, and it’s what the tweeters were saying—the Jets are in serious trouble in net. Their coach would later say that this was not at all the case, though.

Not that it matters. With the eventual loss to the Kings, they remained stagnant at 75 points, while Vancouver stagnated ahead of them with 79 in losing to the Ducks. And with only seven games, left, their deficit to the final playoff spot, nine points, looks pretty much impossible to surmount.

Their problem, according to their coach, has nothing to do with goalies. Rather, it’s two things, micro and macro. Micro, on the night, they didn’t come out hard. They had beaten the Sharks two nights prior, and they had every reason to roar into LA, but they didn’t, and Paul Maurice was not happy about that. “It taught a real good lesson in the first period about being ready to play a hard game. We gave them too much ice to play on, backing up. . . . Then two periods you play as hard as you possibly can. Some nights your hands are going to be there, some nights they’re not, but you play that hard, most nights, and you’re going to have a chance. We were looking for a smoother way to play that first period, and it just wasn’t there.”

Just to finish the summary: the Jets got within two, then LA scored again a soft goal, in my opinion, and then the Jets did get a power play goal, with about half of period three left. They couldn’t do anything with the 4-2 shortfall, though. Their final two minutes were frantic, and created a few chances, including a shot that Quick did a two-pad leg save, old-school style, and another which he saved by kicking a leg up and out behind him. But they had nothing else. Halischuk said after, “It’s definitely a regroup for us and a learning lesson,” and funny how that language was an echo of his coach’s. See what’s next here.

Macro level, they haven’t quite figured out how to do the right things to win, day by day. He described this as well: “There’s the learning lesson in this one. How do you wind yourself back up as hard as we need to to compete against that team? That’s what our focus will be going into the next game.” He later added, “We talked about this. Routine. What your morning skates are supposed to look like. What your practices are supposed to look like, trying to get the energy right. We have to work every day. We have to do the right things every day.”

On the netminders, he said, “I’m not putting that one at the goaltenders’ feet [plural]. Could the goalies have been better? . . . Yes, but that wasn’t a goalie issue, in that period.” He repeated this point twice more to take up one minute of his three minutes of comment on the game, and put the responsibility on the players, who didn’t start at the drop of the puck.

The Jets now have Anaheim and Phoenix away, while the Kings have Minnesota and Phoenix at home. For the Jets, that’s got to look like hell. But Evander Kane wasn’t too negative. “It’s frustrating that we didn’t play the way we played in the third period in the first period. That’s the frustrating part. We’ve got to be a lot better than that, down 3-0 after the first period coming off a win against San Jose. You need everybody going, and we didn’t have that.”


Follow me on twitter @growinguphockey. Read my new novel, please. It’s called Pond Hockey. Available anywhere, easy on

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Photo Gallery: Ice Caps @ Bears (03/29/14) Sun, 30 Mar 2014 13:13:13 +0000

At the Giant Center on 03/29/14 in the 12th round of a shootout, Hershey Bears Tyson Strachan scored the winning  goal to defeat the St. John’s Ice Caps 2 to 1. The “3 Stars of the Game” were #3 STJ Kyle MacKinnon, #2 HER Jeff Taffe, #1 David Leggio. Photo taken by Steve Rusyn for Inside Hockey.

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Ovi nets 40th; Caps bomb Jets Fri, 07 Feb 2014 05:29:47 +0000

The Capitals bested the hottest team in the league Thursday night with a 4-2 win over Winnipeg. Going into their game against Washington, the Jets had posted a 9-2 record since replacing coach Claude Noel with former Carolina bench boss Paul Maurice.

The Caps, meanwhile, improved to 2-1 during their current homestand, which ends Saturday night against the New Jersey Devils.

During a comeback in the third-period, Alex Ovechkin knocked in a gritty rebound goal – what would prove to be the game-winner – for his 40th of the season. Ovechkin, who has now scored at least 40 goals in six of his nine NHL seasons, is the first player to hit the 40-goal mark this year. He is currently on pace to score over 60 goals. Troy Brouwer and Tom Wilson also scored for Washington.

Fresh defensive call-ups Julien Brouillette, who made his NHL debut against the Jets, and Patrick Wey both recorded their first NHL point in the win. Aside from experienced blueliners Karl Alzner and John Carlson, the bottom four defensemen – Brouilette, Wey, Connor Carrick and Dmitry Orlov – entered the Jets game with less than 120 career NHL games between them.

Despite their inexperience, Brouilette and Wey assisted on the tying goal that began Washington’s three-goal outburst in the final period.

“From what I expected, they were fantastic,” Caps head coach Adam Oates said of his third defensive pairing. “I thought they played really solid.”

After a dismal second period in which they were outshot 16-7, the Capitals knew they had to change their approach to the game.

“We came in (the locker room) after the second period, we were extremely unhappy with the way we were playing,” Brouwer said. “The way we were giving up chances, our execution. It was just poor all around. So, we came out (in the third period), we started winning battles…those are things we need to do to score goals.”

Caps goalie Braden Holtby, who found out he was starting around noon the day of the game because of Michal Neuvirth’s unspecified illness, echoed his teammate’s sentiments.

“You look at the goals that we got, aside from Brouwer’s last one they were goals that you go to the dirty areas for, that you deserve as a team,” Holtby said. “It’s not always easiest to go there and find the puck in those areas, and we did that.”

After proving that they can battle and play the correct way, the key for Washington now is maintaining momentum, something Oates addressed in his post-game comments.

“You look at the other night it was 1-0; 6-5 (versus) Detroit; shootout in Detroit,” he said. “Every night it’s a dog fight, so enjoy (the win) for a little bit, (but) we’ve got to re-energize for Saturday.”

With Ovechkin (Russia), John Carlson (United States), Nicklas Backstrom (Sweden) and Martin Erat (Czech Republic) preparing to leave for Sochi in a matter of days, the Capitals were happy to gain points and momentum before the Olympic break.

While the Caps’ game against the Devils is still their main focus right now, the Olympic spirit was undeniable at the game, with Secretary of State John Kerry taking part in a pre-game ceremony honoring Olympians from Winnipeg and Washington. The pageantry ended with a ceremonial puck drop between Team USA members Carlson and Blake Wheeler.

Brouwer, who won a Stanley Cup with Chicago in the last Olympic year, discussed how the break for Sochi could impact the season.

“They do a good job of bringing us back more than a week in advance, getting back into practice shape,” he said. “It’s tough to get back into game shape until you play games, but the guys that are at the Olympics, they obviously won’t miss a beat…but the rest of us, we can recharge, relax a little bit and then it’s going to be a hard, hard week of practice to make sure that we’re top notch to go for a playoff run.”

As Holtby notes, the Caps can’t afford to falter between now and the end of the season.

“We’ve put ourselves in a position where each game keeps getting bigger and bigger,” Holtby said. “How we’re going to be successful is if we dumb it down and we just focus on the little things that we need to do to win games…like tonight with crashing the net, getting those dirty goals. That’s what we have to do consistently in order to win games.”

Game Summary

Troy Brouwer slipped a backhand shot past Ondrej Pavelec at 4:56 of the first period for his third goal in six games. Casey Wellman notched his third career NHL point with a secondary assist on the goal.

The Jets knotted the score at one after a defensive zone turnover led to Martin Erat deflecting the puck past his own goalie at 13:02 of the first.

Team USA snub Dustin Byfuglien put the Jets ahead with his 13th goal of the season. Devin Setoguchi dropped a pass to the skilled yet completely uncovered Winnipeg defenseman as he was breaking into the offensive zone. Byfuglien didn’t waste the opportunity, lifting a shot past Holtby’s glove side 5:41 into the second period.

Tom Wilson catalyzed the Caps comeback, tying the score at two just 3:38 into the third period. Recent defensive call-ups Julien Brouillette and Patrick Wey each recorded their first NHL point with assists on the play.

Ovechkin’s 40th goal of the year put the Caps ahead 7:46 into the third period and Brouwer capped the scoring with his second goal of the night at 15:15 of the third period.




While John Kerry received a mix of cheers and jeers from the Verizon Center crowd, Adam Oates expressed his support for the Secretary of State.


“Obviously he’s a great man,” Oates said. “I know him from my Boston days and we have a little history.”

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Late Goal Lifts Jets past ‘Canes Wed, 05 Feb 2014 12:40:41 +0000

In a closely matched contest in any sport the deciding factor in the game typically comes down to one specific play. That is exactly what ultimately decided Tuesday nights game between the Carolina Hurricanes and visiting Winnipeg Jets. Tied at one with less than two minutes to play Carolina was unable to clear the puck from their zone and Jets rookie defenseman Jacob Trouba took the puck and circled in behind the Carolina net. His wrap around attempt slipped through the crease and right wind Chris Thorburn was waiting on Hurricane goalie Anton Khubodin’s glove side. The game winner went in with a 1:03 showing on the clock.

The game marked the return of Winnipeg coach, Paul Maurice, to Raleigh. Maurice was the Hurricane coach when the team moved to Raleigh from Hartford in 1997 until he was let go 30 games into the 03/04 season and again five seasons later when he replaced Peter Laviolette (who replaced him after the first firing). Since taking over as coach of the Jets on January 12th of this year, Maurice is now 9-2.

Carolina has two home games left before the Olympic break. The Florida Panthers on Friday and the Canadiens on Saturday.


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‘Canes Sink the Blues 3-1 Sun, 02 Feb 2014 14:37:33 +0000

14-1-4, that is the Carolina Hurricanes record this season when scoring first. Getting out to an early lead is even more important after coming off a shut-out loss to Montreal and welcoming the Western division power St. Louis Blues to Raleigh.    Hurricane forward Nathan Gerbe got Carolina that early lead 3:46 into the first period on the power play.  With Blues forward Brendan Morrow in the box for hi-sticking (his first of three trips to the sin bin for the game), ‘Canes defenseman Andrej Sekera found Gerbe in a soft spot in the zone and he was able to bury it past Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak. St. Louis was able to answer later in the period on a power play of their own. Blues captain, David Backes, got behind the Carolina defense and buried one glove side on Hurricane goalie Anton Khubodin. The teams went to the first intermission tied at one.

Carolina jumped back on top early in the second period. Jordan Staal one a face-off for the Hurricanes to the right of Halak. The puck found its way to Jeff Skinner who blasted home his team leading 23rd goal of the year. Anton Khubodin and the rest of the Hurricane defense did most of the rest to allow this to be the eventual game winner. Alexander Semin capped off the game with highlight worth empty net goal with Halak pulled for the extra skater. Semin stole the puck in the neutral zone only to fall to his knees with the puck in front of him. He some how managed to move the puck from his backhand to forehand all while regaining his edge and slapped it past Blues winger Valdimir Tarasenko who skated back to protect the empty net.

Anton Khudobin has now moved his record to 12-4-0 on the season and his 2.24 GAA and .925 SV% will likely drop ever so slightly.  With Cam Ward finally healthy and on a reconditioning stint with the Charlotte Checkers, Hurricanes management will have some decision making to do when it comes to the net minder.  Ward will likely get the start again for the Checkers on Saturday and rejoin the team next week. The question is will they keep three goalies on the roster? Khudobin has clearly earned the number one spot and Justin Peters would have to clear waivers to be sent back to the AHL.

Tonight was the first of a four game home stand before the Olympic break.  Winnipeg and Former Hurricane coach Paul Maurice come to town Tuesday night.


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Krug Leads B’s to 4-1 Win Over Jets Sun, 05 Jan 2014 13:28:24 +0000

The injury-plagued Boston Bruins are getting healthier; well, somewhat. The returns of both Dougie Hamilton and Carl Soderberg help, but the yearlong loss of top defensemen Dennis Seidenberg, paired with the indefinite loss of reliable forward Loui Eriksson will take its toll on the storied franchise.

With replacements up from Providence, many of whom just starting their NHL careers, the past few weeks have been a test, especially defensively.

While playing the same system definitely helps, there is no true way in preparing someone for their first NHL game- a pace and physicality like no other.

The Bruins have and will continue trying to solve the problem internally, but it wouldn’t be surprising to seem them add a reliable, veteran defenseman of the “shut-down” variety, in preparation for another hopeful run at the Cup. No one will replace Seidenberg, but doesn’t mean they can’t help.

On Saturday, both the pros and cons of having young offensive-minded defensemen up showed.

While Torey Krug was easily beaten on the first goal of the game, scored by Winnipeg’s Dustin Byfuglien on an impressive rush, he made up for it by threading the perfect pass to Daniel Paille, who slammed the puck into the open net for the equalizer.

On the Byfulgien goal, Justin Florek, playing in his first ever NHL game, should have provided Krug with more help when the hefty defensemen made his way around Tuukka Rask’s net; he shares blame for the goal, but these happen when so many rookies are forced into the lineup.

The score was knotted at one after one period of play.

Early in the middle frame, the two rookies took part in giving the Bruins their first lead of the game.

Florek, after nearly tipping in an impressive centering feed by linemate Greg Campbell, parked himself in front of Ondrej Pavelec, fended off two Winnipeg skaters, and successfully screened the goalie as Krug’s point blast went in over his shoulder.

“Any time you aren’t contributing the way maybe you were before you get frustrated,” said Krug postgame. “All you can do is help the team win and when you’re not contributing it’s tough but it is a good feeling when you get the first one, actually I was hoping Flo [Justin Florek] got his (first NHL goal). I was hoping he tipped it, but it was still nice.”

It was a terrific screen by Florek, who played much better than expected in his first career NHL game.

“He played well. He’s a good skater, he’s got good size, and obviously on one of [Torey] Krug’s goals it was him doing a great job in front of goaltender there, and I thought he had a real good game for us, no doubt, “ said Bruins coach Claude Julien of Florek postgame.

Minutes later, Krug added another goal after terrific board-play and cycling by Bruins winger Carl Soderberg. Once Soderberg got the puck back to Krug at the point, the young defenseman skated inward, shifted, and threw a deceiving wrist shot on net which deflected off Jacob Trouba’s stick and past Pavelec.

Offensively, Krug was outstanding on Saturday, finishing the game with two goals and an assist, making him the first star in the Bruins 4-1 victory over the Jets.

The Bruins next face a huge test in the form of a California road trip, in which they’ll play three of the top teams in the entire NHL.

“Well it’s going to be a challenge, I’ve said it all along, the players know about it,” said Julien. “We mine as well mention the fact that they have a combined six regulation losses between those three teams so it goes to show you how hard it is to go there and win some hockey games.  It’s a challenge that I and the rest of the team are really looking forward to because that’s the kind of challenge we need right now.”


Torey Krug

Click here to view the embedded video.

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Photo Gallery: Jets @ Blue Jackets (12/16/13) Tue, 17 Dec 2013 11:35:20 +0000

The Columbus Blue Jackets lost 3-2 to the Winnipeg Jets Monday, December 16, 2013 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, OH.  (Inside Hockey – Rachel Lewis)

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