Free Play Thursday
WINNIPEG JETS @ BOSTON BRUINS 7:05 PM
Take: WINNIPEG JETS +110
The Jets-Bruins matchup features what might be best described as two escalators heading in opposite directions. Winnipeg is off its best season in ages, and the Jets have a great chance to rise a little more in the overall standings this season. The Bruins are looking as though they’re heading into a rebuilding phase and the general consensus is that Boston will be absent from the playoffs once again next spring.
The Bruins had some significant chemistry issues last season and they have cut ties with a number of veteran players. The core of this team is still on the old side, and while there might be some solid young talent on the way, I think it’s fair to assess that cohesiveness could be a big problem early in the season and perhaps beyond that.
The Jets, on the other hand, are an arrow up franchise. I don’t see any discernible weaknesses here. The defense was excellent last season, the offense appears improved and the suspect goaltending, which had been an ongoing problem, is not really a worry at this point. There is some concern that like many teams who spring forward one year, there could be some regression the next. But I really feel as though the Jets now have their deepest and most talented roster in years. I expect this team to knock on the door of the NHL’s overall top ten this season.
The Bruins have one of the league’s better goalies in Tuukka Rask. He figures to see lots of vulcanized rubber this year. It looks to me like the Boston blue line corps could be a major liability. The two best guys are long in the tooth, and the rest of the group is average. This was a weakness last season and I don’t see improvement on the way. Up front, the Bruins have more hope with some emerging talent arriving and they’re bigger than they’ve been. But overall, this just isn’t a particularly good roster and the opinion in many circles is that the the best thing the Bruins can do is focus on the future while tolerating the present.
I suspect there could be some early season value to be had fading the Bruins. Tonight looks like a possible example as Winnipeg sure looks like the better hockey team, but they’re the dogs tonight at Boston. I’ll opt to grab any available plus money with the Jets to win this game.