Preseason game number two tonight for the Jets in Winnipeg, and it’s against a club that many think are going to be an offensive juggernaut this coming season, the Edmonton Oilers.
The Jets have a number of changes from game one to game two, including an almost entire new defensive unit and a completely different group of bottom six forwards. The only thing that will carry over from the game on Monday will be the top six forwards the Jets used as Schefiele, Wheeler, Laine, Little, Perreault and Ehlers all get put into the lineup once again.
Meanwhile, here are three other items you will want to keep an eye out for and be aware of tonight…
1 – Mase Begins
Goalie Steve Mason begins his Winnipeg Jets odyssey tonight as he gets the call to start tonight, and if Monday’s game is any indication, he will likely go the full 60 minutes (or more) much like Connor Hellebuyck did. Michael Hutchinson is backing up Mason tonight. Mason has mentioned that he wants to get three or four preseason games worth of work in before October 4th as he tries to get used to playing at Bell MTS Place on a more regular basis, and he tries to get used to his new teammates, how they play defense and what their tendencies are. Much like Cam Talbot with the Oilers, the Jets are looking at Mason to come in to fill a starter’s role and steal a few games for them this season. Tonight will provide a nice early indication if the Jets can indeed count on that.
2 – The Penalty Revolution Will Be Televised
Do you like watching refs do their thing? Is having a game stopped every few minutes to call a penalty your idea of classic hockey? If so, you’ve been loving this preseason so far! Officials (under the direction of the league of course, let’s not act like this is just referees going rouge) are cracking down on stick fouls – if your stick is parallel to the ice and anywhere near an opposing player’s hand, you’re as good as gone. They are also cracking down on faceoff violations (not keeping the stick on the ice, feet not properly set, etc..) but we didn’t see as much of that in the game on Monday as other teams have so far. The Jets will continue to get plenty of chances to work on their special teams, which all things considered isn’t such a bad deal.
3 – Blueline Changes
Word out of camp on Tuesday was that we’d see some turnover on defense and based on the lineups sent out this morning, we’ll get to see the other notable free agent signing of the summer as Dmitri Kulikov draws in. Tyler Myers by all accounts has looked really good so far in camp and will be no doubt anxious to get on the ice and may even get paired with Kulikov as they have been together all camp. The Jacob Trouba / Josh Morrisey pairing will get top line minutes in tonight’s game as they both get their first game action of the preseason. As for the third pairing, Dustin Byfuglien draws in again for the second game in a row and his kid-partner of choice will be young Sami Niku who had himself a solid rookie tournament and has turned a few heads with his strong main camp thus far.