Tuesday night’s return to hockey for the Boston Bruins, after their bye week and the All-Star break, saw the recall of Peter Cehlarik and the first call up for Trent Frederic from the Providence Bruins. In addition, with Tuukka Rask currently on injured reserve, Jaroslav Halak started in net and Zane McIntyre was recalled from Providence to serve as the backup goaltender.
The Bruins played host to the Winnipeg Jets who were playing in the second of a back-to-back set of games, having lost to the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday night. Despite coming into the game on Tuesday with a two-game losing streak, the Winnipeg Jets sit first in the Western Division. And like the Bruins they have one very strong scoring line in the Kyle Connor, Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler line, just as the Bruins have Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. The two teams are similar in other ways as well—their speed and physicality, and both teams seem to be back-end loaded when it comes to goal scoring with both of them getting their most goals in the third period.
“I mean we’re built the same way, you know. They got some big bodies, we got some big bodies. They play really fast, we play really fast. That’s a heck of a team over there, so we tried to give them all they could handle tonight and it was good enough to get two [points],” said Jets captain, Wheeler.
The Bruins jumped on the Jets almost from the start of the game, and it looked like perhaps the Jets were tired from playing and traveling on Monday. Bergeron put the Bruins on the scoreboard first and the team did manage to defend for a decent length of time before the Jets were able to tie things up. This was a solid improvement for the Bruins who, going into the break, had been giving up goals almost immediately after scoring one. And with Pastrnak adding a second goal late in the opening period the Bruins were leading 2-1 going into the first intermission.
The second period saw the physicality of the teams in glorious color. It was clear that the Jets had found another gear in their play. Having been outshot 20-8 in the first period, they were now determined to try to turn the tables on the Bruins. The second period has been a struggle for Boston throughout much of the season. As the period continued the hits became a bit harder. The first sign that things were ratcheting up was at the 14:14 mark as Jake DeBrusk was going in on Jets netminder Connor Hellebuyck. He ultimately shot wide of the net, the result of defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, who was back-checking him, and essentially driving him into the net. DeBrusk hit the left post hard, the net came off its moorings and DeBrusk went down, only to look up and see Brendan Lemieux standing over him giving him lip and waving his arms a bit—even went so far as to shake off referee Ghislain Herbert’s hand as Hebert came in to calm things down.
Jake DeBrusk says hello to the Jets net.
(Also it looked for a split second like Brendan Lemieux was ready to lose it on the ref lmao) pic.twitter.com/d24NnLWIvk
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) January 30, 2019
Roughly a minute later Marchand’s snap shot was blocked by Josh Morrissey—who had gotten Winnipeg’s goal in the first period. At 15:37 there was a series of three hits. The first was Bruin Noel Acciari on Jacob Trouba in the neutral zone. At 15:43 Winnipeg’s Adam Lowry put a defensive zone hit on Chris Wagner. But what really got things going was the hard, clean hit, Kevan Miller put on Brandon Tanev as Tanev was coming into the Bruins end along the right board. Miller landed him on the ice and Adam Lowry invited Miller to drop the gloves. Miller has never been one to shy away from such an invite.
As the combatants headed down their respective tunnels, given that there was less than five minutes remaining in the second period, the puck was dropped. Frederic won the draw in the Bruins end against Bryan Little and as the play turned to head in the other direction, Frederic put his own hit on Tanev in the neutral zone. Things headed down in front of Hellebuyck where a hand pass resulted in a whistle at 16:16 with a bit of a scrum in front of the Jets goaltender. And that’s when Tanev decided he would welcome Frederic to the NHL while teaching him a lesson. However, that fight didn’t go exactly the way Tanev expected, as Frederic came out swinging and just never stopped until he took down Tanev.
First NHL game, first NHL scrap for Trent Frederic, and his parents in the stands love it 👊👏 pic.twitter.com/IJJ4W03dWt
— Hockey Central (@HockeyCentraI) January 30, 2019
After the fight, as once again two more players headed down their respective tunnels—29 seconds after the last pair, Frederic’s parents, who were among his friends and family at the forward’s first NHL game, were shown on the Jumbotron. His father was quite proud of his son and he high-fived someone behind him. And when his wife went to high-five him he was going in for the fist bump.
“Yeah, that’s tough, we’ll have them work on that. But one of these days,” Frederic joked about the incoordination of his parents.
Of course, there was nothing uncoordinated about Frederic’s fight. Showing the signs of what will likely be quite a shiner to his left eye on Wednesday, it was clear that Frederic felt he had stood up tall for the team.
“It just kind of happened naturally. It just kind of got chippy a little bit at that point of the game, just kind of happened naturally. I wasn’t really going in trying to get one tonight, but it just happened,” Frederic said.
As the buzzer signaled the end of the second period, the Bruins were still leading 2-1. However, going into Tuesday’s game, Winnipeg had scored 66 goals in the final frame throughout their previous 49 games—the most in any period for them, while limiting their opponents to 48.
The third period began with Winnipeg getting a shot on Halak before the Bruins put two on Hellebuyck. A neutral zone faceoff after an offside play saw some players changing on the fly. For the Jets, it looked like they drew it up that way, as Connor came off the bench and received a solid pass to go into the offensive zone. Had the Bruins not been making an ill-timed line change, there may have been someone who could have stopped Connor, but instead he put the puck in the net to tie the game at two each at 4:27 of the third. Thirty-four seconds later Connor put his second of the game past Halak to give Winnipeg their first lead in the game.
Once again, the Bruins top line would have to bring things together as Bergeron got his second of the game at 11:39 of the final twenty of regulation. From the middle of the second throughout the third, the Bruins seemed to be trying to pass the puck a bit too much—especially during the second period when they had a man-advantage but spent more time passing than shooting. And while the cycling and zone time were strong, had they put a couple more shots on Hellebuyck during that and played the way they had in the first period, the score would likely have been different. They allowed the Jets back into the game to a degree.
The Bruins did manage to garner a point from the game. They took it all the way to the shootout, when once again Connor got the only goal, while Hellebuyck denied DeBrusk, Pastrnak, and Marchand. As for Frederic, he saw 8:39 of ice time through 13 shifts. He had two shots on goal, an additional two that were blocked, two hits, a takeaway and was an impressive 59% on the draw (4 out of 7) in addition to his first NHL fight.
It lived up to the hype of a first NHL game. — Frederic