By Scott Billeck
The Winnipeg Jets faced their stiffest test of the pre-season on Thursday night in the Boston Bruins. And while the game ended in a familiar fashion — a 3-2 overtime loss — the Jets finally got some positive results from their bubble players with just one remaining contest before the regular season begins.
“I thought the guys who had a lot to prove tonight really showed they tried to impress,” said Jets head coach Claude Noel in the post-game presser. “We will see how it all shakes out but I think they helped themselves.”
Noel singled out Patrice Cormier as one of the players he thought impressed himself and the coaching staff.
“I thought Cormier on one shift made a couple of good plays down low, made a couple of good scoring chances and was very reliable,” said Noel.
Noel, who expressed his unhappiness earlier this week with his teams poor starts this pre-season, lamented his players’ tentativeness in the first period Thursday night.
“They just came hard and we couldn’t handle their weight and we looked tentative for whatever reason,” said Noel. “Whether it is because they’re the Bruins or they were in the (Stanley Cup) Finals or you are playing against a team that has experience in knowing how to win. I can’t answer exactly why.”
“The start wasn’t what we wanted,” added Mark Scheifele. “But for Setoguchi to get that goal, it gave us the momentum back and we carried that through the second and we just fell short.
Scheifele was able to take off one of the monkeys that have been firmly attached to his back over the past few weeks. Scheifele scored the go-ahead goal in the second period on a nifty move to beat Bruins goalie Niklas Svedberg.
“It felt good, it would have been better to get the win but the goal felt good,” said Scheifele. “It was pretty important, I was pretty pumped. It was pressing a bit but the biggest thing is to be reliable. It is not about the points, it’s not about scoring; it is about helping the team win.
Noel was happy with Scheifele’s game overall and thought he got better as the game wore on.
“I think Mark had a little bit of trouble early in the game, but I think he played a lot better in the second and the third,” said Noel. “The goal was a relief for Mark; it was a big play at a key time for us. I thought he was better on face-offs in the second and third – because that was an area of concern for us with – but I thought he battled and I think it lifted a lot of things off his shoulder, especially scoring.”