In an unlikely matchup of top-tier teams, the Boston Bruins and Winnipeg Jets, two of the best in their respective conferences will meet in Manitoba. The Bruins at 47-17-8 are 2nd in the Eastern Conference, 2 points behind the Lightning in the Atlantic. They’ve already clinched, but are still in a fight for the top seed in the conference. The Lightning took a bad loss against the Coyotes at home a night ago. It’s kind of a head shaking loss, but this time of the year is always tricky.
This is the point where you have some teams who are letting up and looking towards the playoffs. Others have thrown in the towel and don’t care anymore; Dallas Stars I’m looking at you. And then there are some teams who are playing loose with nothing to lose. In other words, motivation goes a long way in the final weeks of the regular season. It isn’t always easy to gauge who wants to show up and play hockey this time of the year.
The Jets have certainly been a team who have been showing up just about every night. Winnipeg enters tonight with a record of 46-19-10. They have already clinched a playoff spot and comfortably in the 2nd position in the Central. It doesn’t appear that they will catch the Predators who own 107 points to their 102. They’re also 9 points up on the Wild, so they look pretty entrenched in 2nd. With the Bruins only 2 points behind the Lightning, and the Lightning losing last night, I’d say the Bruins must look at this game as more important than the Jets. Head below for our free Bruins vs. Jets pick.
Boston Bruins vs. Winnipeg Jets Pick
For either of these teams, it’d be a swift kick to the groin if they bow out of the playoffs early. Anything can happen in the NHL playoffs, so it wouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. But after so much success in a year nobody expected, getting bounced early would undoubtedly scream fluke. In any event, compiling records like the Bruins and Jets have are no fluke. The Jets have won five games in a row heading into tonight.
Home ice advantage should be a major advantage for the Jets in the playoffs. They are 29-7-2 at home, including all of their last five wins coming in Winnipeg. There aren’t many people who want to travel to Winnipeg in the winter. They’ve definitely used that to their advantage. Overall their year, the Jets have averaged 3.29 goals per game and allowed 2.59 per game.
There isn’t much separating the Bruins and Jets record wise or statistically. The Bruins are averaging 3.27 goals per game, while allowing 2.53 goals per game. It’d be pretty easy to confuse the two if just going by the numbers.
Tuukka Rask has come up big for the Bruins in spots this season. Rask has plenty of experience playing in the playoffs and pressure environments. Jets’ Connor Hellebuyck not so much, but he’s been cool and collected in net this season. Rask enters with a 2.32 GAA and 0.918 save percentage. Conversely, Hellebuyck owns a 2.36 GAA and 0.924 save percentage. Again, there is minimal separation. This game probably means more to the Bruins, who just watched the Lightning lose to the Coyotes last night. The Jets have clinched and there is some more room ahead and behind them. They are also coming off an emotional win in a shootout over the Predators. -135 on the Jets doesn’t do anything for me, either. I have them as -120 to -115 favourites here, -135 is too rich for my blood. With that said, the Bruins are looking attractive as underdogs tonight.