The NHL is set up with a solid night of action on Friday night. Seven games will be up on the board throughout January 31. One of these matchups will be between the Boston Bruins and the Winnipeg Jets. These two teams have jumped out to solid starts this season, but will look to earn a nice win on Friday night. The puck will drop at around 8:00 PM Eastern time for this game.
Boston has earned a record of 29-10-12 to this point in the season, which has them sitting in first place of the Atlantic Division. The Bruins currently have a five point lead on the Tampa Bay Lightning, who are right behind them in second place. Boston has lost three of their last five games coming into this one and will look to bounce back with a big win on the road.
The Jets have posted a record of 25-22-4 to this point in the season, which has them tied for fourth place of the Central Division with the Chicago Blackhawks. Winnipeg is three points out of a wild card spot and six points behind the Dallas Stars, who are in third place of the Central. The Jets have lost four games in a row and six of their last seven. Winnipeg will look to earn a big win at home in this one.
The Bruins have had a nice start to the season, leading their division to this point in the season. Winnipeg has been up and down all season and it has them sitting outside of a playoff spot right now. The Jets will look to get on a winning streak as they play their first game out of the All-Star break. This will also mark Boston’s first game out of the All-Star break.
The Bruins and the Jets met up two times throughout last season. The first game was hosted by Boston. Kyle Connor scored twice in the third period and added another in the shootout to give Winnipeg a 4-3 win. The second game was hosted by the Jets. Mark Scheifele scored a goal and added two assists as Winnipeg won again 4-3 to sweep the season series.
The first game of this season’s series between these two teams was in Boston on January 9. Kyle Connor and Mark Scheifele both had a goal and an assist for the Jets, but it was not enough. Jake Debrusk scored the game winner to finish with two goals and an assist. David Pastrnak finished with a hat trick as the Bruins edged Winnipeg 5-4.
The Jets were able to sweep Boston last season when they were both playoff teams. This season the Bruins jumped up 1-0 in their two game series, but Winnipeg will look to bounce back at home. The last five games between these two teams have been decided by a goal, which should lead to another exciting matchup on Friday night.
The Bruins have had a strong start on special teams this season. Boston has been able to capitalize on 42 of their 165 power play chances, which is a 25.5 percent success rate. The Bruins penalty kill has been just as good. Boston’s penalty kill has allowed opposing teams to score on 25 of their 148 opportunities, which is an 83.1 percent penalty kill.
Winnipeg’s power play has been sitting around middle of the league this season. The Jets have been able to score 30 power play goals on 150 chances, which is a 20 percent power play. Winnipeg’s penalty kill has struggled this season though. The Jets have allowed their opponents to score 33 power play goals on 129 attempts, which is a 74.4 percent kill rate.
Boston has been much better on special teams this season, putting up a strong power play and penalty kill. The Jets power play has not been bad, but their penalty kill has been poor. Winnipeg takes less penalties than most teams though, which could save them in this one. If the Jets can avoid taking a lot of penalties against Boston, they could slow down the Bruins power play.
I expect Tuukka Rask to get the nod in the crease for the Bruins on Friday night. Rask has earned a record of 17-4-6 to this point in the season through 28 starts. He has put up a save percentage of .925 and a 2.27 GAA. Rask’s last start was against the New York Islanders, where he stopped 35 of the 37 shots against him in route to a nice win for Boston
Connor Hellebuyck will likely get the start in net for the Jets in this matchup. Hellebuyck has posted a record of 21-16-4, through his starts this season. In those games, he has earned a .917 save percentage and a GAA of 2.74. Hellebuyck’s last start came against the Carolina Hurricanes, where he turned away 25 of the 29 shots he faced in a losing effort.
Hellebuyck was struggling a bit coming into the All-Star break, posting a save percentage below .900 in three straight starts. Rask has earned a save percentage above .900 in his last six starts. Hellebuyck will look to bounce back after the time off, while Rask will look to pick up right where he left off. If Winnipeg’s defense can give some support to Hellebuyck in this one though, I think he will have a strong night.
The Jets entered the All-Star break losers of four in a row, but I believe they will come out strong with a win over Boston. Winnipeg got some time off to take a breath and I expect them to come out strong as they are still in the thick of the playoff race. If Hellebuyck can return to his early season form, I think that the Jets can compete with the Bruins on Friday night.
BetOnline has Boston listed as a -140 against the money line. This implies that the Bruins will win this game around 58.3 percent of the time. With this game being hosted by Winnipeg and the previous matchups between these two teams being so close, that this line should be much closer to even. I believe that the Jets have a good chance to take this one and as big home underdogs, I am taking them on Friday night.