Jets Pre-Season Game Three: Old Rivals


As a hockey fan born in Edmonton in the ’80’s, living in Canuck territory, and writing about the Jets, these games are never easy for me. I owe both franchises a thanks for the hours of entertainment, as well as for the self-esteem boost that has come from the constant feeling of being smarter than at least two NHL GM’s throughout my adult life. (Special thanks to Doug MacLean while I’m at it) But for Jets fans who may not know, Craig MacTavish has made sweeping changes – dare I say, upgrades – to the roster he inherited just a few months ago. For any Oilers fans who stopped by, the Jets are doing just fine, thank you very much. No one is worried about re-alignment. Mind your own business. 1979!


Tonight we’ll see some AHL talent make their case for early call-up after both squads have made cuts from Training Camp. We can look forward to a pre-arranged fisticuffs half-time show between Peluso and Abney. Personally, I’m looking forward to the 52 minutes neither of them are on the ice. 

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Statistically, the Oilers’ new back-up (Jason LaBarbera) was better than the Jets’ starter Ondrej Pavelec last season. That said, it’s hard to imagine Pav being affected by shrinking pads, given he stops everything (or doesn’t) with his glove, so maybe things will equal out this year. 

Jets Forwards

  • Kane – Jokinen – Setoguchi
  • Wright – Scheifele – Frolik
  • Tangradi – O’Dell – Klingberg
  • Telegin – Slater – Peluso

The Jets left wing in this game is going to give the Oilers some trouble. Two heavy fast-balls with movement and a change-up feels like a strike-out combo if we just ignore Wright – a hanging curve ball in this metaphor. This is Ivan Telegin’s first pro game since suffering a major concussion in St. John’s last year, but he certainly looked full-speed at Young Stars tournament, and I would expect him to move up the lineup quickly during the game. Kane scored two in his first pre-season game and seemed immune to the disorganization of his linemates. Jokinen draws in as his centre and we get our first look at the dystopic alternate-future in which Mark Scheifele doesn’t make the team. 

O’Dell’s only pre-season game showed him to be an AHL player, despite his impressive scoring with the IceCaps. His skating is just not NHL level, and though he played a full 200′ game, he was behind the play the moment the puck was turned over. Heavy feet in transition and high-shoulders in turns meant he just never had power to change direction. Tangradi is a little more his speed and is a zone-entry monster. Klingberg also has NHL size, but just 61 points in 130 AHL games. This will be my first viewing of the Gothenburg native, and I’m very curious to compare him to the Oilers’ younger Tyler Pitlick – a speedy, large bodied, heavy hitting young man with all the tools and none of the results. 

I feel like there is a drinking game related to every time Jim Slater blocks a shot but doesn’t get the puck out. We will see.

Jets Defence

  • Clitsome – Byfuglien
  • Melchiori – Trouba
  • Stuart – Postma


  • Pavelec
  • Pasquale

Pavelec is starting, but Pasquale is expected to get some time in net. It may be that Noel is trying to unseat Montoya for the back-up job, as Al was used in just 6 starts last season. 

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Clitsome and Byfuglien formed the team’s top pairing after Enstrom was hurt last season and exceeded (albeit low) expectations – likely a central reason for Clitsome’s three-year contract this past summer. Stuart and Postma were also used in the Jets stretch-run, though Postma is currently fighting for a job with Ian White in camp.

Melchiori and Trouba are the least known and thus most interesting to watch. After a shaky start for Trouba with Chiarot in game one, Melchiori seemed to calm things down for the young 1st rounder. Still, he was physically out-muscled and was often seen making casual approaches the puck that belied the speed of the contest. We hope to see Trouba adjust his game after a bit of a pride-bruiser against Washington.

Oilers Forwards

  • Omark – Gagner – Jones
  • R. Hamilton – Arcobello – Yakupov
  • Pitlick – Lander – Joensuu
  • Moroz – Martindale – Abney

The recently-returned Linus Omark gets an offensive push tonight and likely sees PP time as well on a roster with only a fraction of the scoring punch of the Oilers’ NHL squad. Ryan Jones is the original Matt Halischuk – a cast-off from the Predators with reasonable vertical speed and more goals than anyone can explain through reason or math. He missed much of the 2013 season with injury and with all the changes around him, is back to fighting for minutes. 

One of the players who might eat those minutes is the Oilers’ latest Finn, Jesse Joensuu – a 6’4" former Islanders’ pick who scored 25 points in 24 SM-Liiga games this past season. He’ll be matched with would-be 4th line centre Anton Lander and the young but so-far disappointing Tyler Pitlick. It has the chance to be a formidable checking line and all three have something to prove. The wingers are listed on their off-wings, but maybe Eakins prefers it that way.

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Lowetide is listing Ryan Hamilton as a likely Oiler come October 1st. He plays with the Oilers’ 5th centre from 2013, Mark Arcobello – the man who got the assignment with Hall and Eberle during the lockout. With them is Yak-city, an electric player I’ve waited all summer to watch again. It’s pre-season, so I encourage you to just let yourself enjoy this kid’s incredible puck skills, galloping stride, and massive grin. 

Mitch Moroz missed rookie camp with an injury, and will be trying to look out of place on a line with two guys who know where to get the best pizza in Stockton, where the Oilers’ ECHL affiliate plays. 

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Oilers Defence

  • Smid – Petry
  • Klefbom – Grebeshkov
  • Larsen – Davidson


  • LaBarbera
  • Bachman

Oscar Klefbom returns from a mild concussion suffered in the Young Stars tournament, and does so on his natural side. He had a very up-and-down performance in the tournament prior to the injury, looking like a different player shift-to-shift. He definitely has NHL quality skating, but it could be a wild night if Dennis Grebeshkov has kept any of his wandering tendencies from before going to the KHL. 

Smid and Petry have been the Oilers’ top pairing for a couple years now and are remarkably good considering the limited fanfare they receive.

Davidson had a strong Young Stars tournament, but struggled with contact and controlling forwards in close quarters. Philip Larsen is 23 and trying to earn a permanent NHL position. He has much the same struggles and this pair could be exposed by the big, strong, fast Jets group. 

Game Day

I’ll be on twitter tonight watching the game and hoping for a 10-10 tie. Come chat with me @kevinmccart

  • RexLibris

    Just a quick note, Klefbom suffered his concussion after the Young Stars tournament in a game against the U of A Golden Bears from a shoulder to the head when he was leaning over close to the boards. He finished the shift strong, arguably even improving as it went on because the Oilers lost possession on the play and the Bears cycled it in the zone for another minute or so.

    Good read, Kevin. 1979 indeed. If I recall correctly, Dave Semenko scored the last goal of the WHA in that Avco cup final. Funny how history goes sometimes.

    This game could be interesting, or a bore. Not sure which way this is going to go. The Oilers are keeping virtually all their offensive weapons holstered, no offense to Yakupov but he is only one player, but dressing a halfway decent defensive group.

    For the Jets, the players I’m most interested in watching are Frolik and Scheifele. For the Oilers, Hamilton, Pitlick, Joensuu, Davidson and Klefbom. And Yakupov of course, but that goes without saying.

    Good to have the Jets back where they belong!

    • Kevin McCartney

      Thanks RA. I’ll give my 2 cents for what it’s worth.

      I thought the games of Davidson and Larsen bore out what I said in this article – Kane gave them troubles, Byfuglien bulled his way in (and drew a penalty), even Tangradi went where he wanted for the most part. Both players struggled with contact. In that sense, they weren’t well suited to the double pin that seems integral to Eakins’ d-zone system and I don’t recall them ever employing it.

      That doesn’t mean either had bad games, however. As Wildcat pointed out on twitter, Davidson could have done much worse – he kept people in front of him, stayed in the way, and made things harder. Both he and Larsen hard terrific games in transition (both puck movement and support), and looked like plus level skaters (albeit in a game with some AHL guys). I thought Davidson showed some of the blue line work I was impressed by at the Young Stars tournament. Obviously Larsen’s points at the end of the game make a good case for his offensive ability, but I thought more telling was how he rotated from half-wall to centre blue line from either side with control and his head up. Probably a B+ each.

      Grebs was much less impressive and really struggled to my eye. He gave up his own blue line like they were buy one, get one free through the neutral zone. His transitions were more hesitant than I remember from his first stint with the Oil. C grade?

      I agree with Lowetide that Klefbom had a pretty good game, and most of his chaos was Grebs related. That said, Klefbom is rarely calm. And the result is that he makes a decision early in every play and then lives that decision for good or bad. When the Oilers break down, and his first read has no support, things go awry for him. I think he’s showing improvement already, so let’s call it rust and small ice. It probably looks pretty crowded out there to him. C+/B- area

  • RexLibris

    “Ryan Jones is the original Matt Halischuk – a cast-off from the Predators with reasonable vertical speed and more goals than anyone can explain through reason or math.”

    I’m not sure a truer statement about Jones has ever been said.

  • RexLibris

    Thanks a lot Kevin. I didn’t like Grebeshkov at all. Let’s see how he does after a couple of more NHL games after being in the KHL for a few years. I really liked Larsen’s assertiveness late in the game.