Bruins-Jets preview: Cruise control?

Bruins-Jets preview: Cruise control?
April 10, 2014, 6:45 pm
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PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRES PUMPED: Daniel Paille has gone scoreless in four games during the month of April with a minus-1 rating, and just five shots on net. Clearly, offense is not his No. 1 charge as a fourth-line winger, but the speedy, gritty Paille usually gets a few more chances to score than he’s been able to muster over the past few games. There’s just one assist between Paille, Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton over the last four games as the Merlot Line has been a little too quiet.

DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: “Some guys need to rest. It’s obviously been a long year for some guys. But it doesn’t mean our guys should go out there and cruise, and not play the way we should be. That’s what I didn’t like about our last game. I don’t think we played our best against a team [in Minnesota] that had played a lot of hockey.” –Claude Julien, looking for a different level of effort against Winnipeg on Thursday night.

KEY MATCHUP: It will be about an undermanned Bruins group facing a Winnipeg team that’s shut down Dustin Byfuglien, and will be featuring former Bruins draft pick Michael Hutchinson between the pipes in his second career NHL start. Given that the Jets are 21st in the goals against category headed into this one, it could be a long night for Hutchinson and the B’s defense. Hutchinson only gave up one goal, but lost a 1-0 decision to the Minnesota Wild in his NHL debut on Monday night.

STAT TO WATCH: 7 – the consecutive seasons that the Winnipeg/Atlanta franchise will miss the playoffs, including all three seasons since returning to Manitoba as the Jets.

INJURIES: Jarome Iginla and Kevan Miller are expected to return to the lineup after missing the last couple of games for the Bruins. Adam McQuaid (strained quad) hasn’t appeared in a game since Jan. 19, and Dennis Seidenberg is out at least through the first few rounds of the playoffs after blowing out his right knee in late December. Both players were on the ice skating earlier this week.

Jets forwards Dustin Byfuglien (muscle tear), Mark Scheifele (sprained MCL), Chris Thorburn (talus) and James Wright (ankle), defensemen Zach Bogosian (upper body), Grant Clitsome (back) and Keaton Ellerby (lower body) and goaltender Al Montoya (lower body) are out. Forward Andrew Ladd (undisclosed) skated Wednesday but is questionable.

GOALTENDING MATCH-UP: There was no way to judge which Bruins goalie will play against the Winnipeg Jets, but one would expect that it will be Chad Johnson in one of his final appearances this season for the Black and Gold. Johnson is 17-3-2 with a 2.12 goals-against average and .923 save percentage as the backup for Tuukka Rask.

Michael Hutchinson never got an NHL appearance in his three years in the Bruins organization despite an opening behind Rask and Tim Thomas in the 2011-12 season. The third-round pick in the 2008 draft by Boston left the Bruins organization and is up with Winnipeg after splitting his time between the AHL and ECHL this season. He was 15-5-1 with a .923 save percentage and 2.33 GAA for the St. John’s IceCaps this season, and should be plenty motivated to excel against a team he probably dreamed of playing for.