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Photo Credit: © Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Jets Nose Dive in Edmonton: Preseason Game Two

The NHL preseason can provide numerous strange sights. With the amount of games the teams play before anything gets too serious, roster management becomes the name of the game. Most notably, when do you play your big guns, and when do you give your bubble players a chance?

Last nights game saw the two teams manage their rosters very differently. This led to a very one-sided score and the Oilers big guns running over some baby Jets. It is preseason however, and the results are secondary so lets examine what we learnt from last nights game.

Winnipeg clearly did not bring their A lineup. Winnipeg’s top line of Wheeler, Scheifele, and Connor have yet to see the ice in the preseason. The Jets also left behind much of their projected second and third lines. Normally the fourth line, of Andrew Copp, Adam Lowry, and Brendan Tanev was counted on to buoy Winnipeg throughout this contest. After that the Jets played bubble players in Vesalainen/Roslovic and to a lesser extent Mason Appleton on a second line, and filled out the roster with guys who will likely be Moose in the bottom 6. An exception to that may be Marko Dano who has played well so far this preseason. Morrissey and Trouba, the Jets shutdown pairing, led the back-end while Stanley, Niku and Morrow all saw action for the second straight game.

It was a home game for Edmonton and they brought the big guns. Much of their projected opening day roster took the ice, and you could see the difference in calibre. Whereas Winnipeg saw many AHLers at home against Minnesota, the shoe was on the other foot last night. Winnipeg had to buckle in and do their best to contain what looks like it will be a very high-powered offence.

The Oilers held the play for the first five minutes or so. Comrie was tested but stayed solid and the Jets defense was in bend but don’t break mode. Winnipeg finally got some momentum after Andrew Copp earned himself a breakaway, breaking past Oilers first round pick Evan Bouchard before being stopped by Cam Talbot. The line of Copp/Lowry/Tanev was predictably Winnipeg’s best. They played physical and looked dangerous in the offensive zone at times. Copp was a real standout and maybe Winnipeg’s best player all night.

The Oilers got a breakaway of their own before the period was half over as Jacob Trouba fanned on a puck and Jessi Puljujarvi got in behind everyone. Puljujarvi was stopped by Comrie but drew a penalty as Trouba tried to reach back. On the power play Puljujarvi got another chance and this time made no mistake. The young Finn blew by the Jets, notably catching Logan Stanley flat-footed and beating Comrie. This was the start of a long night for Stanley and a beautiful goal to open the game. 1-0 Oilers.

The teams traded penalties throughout the rest of the first period with power play and 4-on-4 time. Copp again had the best chance for Winnipeg off a 2 on 1 with Vesalainen. The Jets first round pick from last year stole the puck and rushed up the ice with Copp. The odd man rush ended with a nice save by Cam Talbot. Any good will Vesalainen may have earned with Paul Maurice and the coaching staff on that play soon vanished as Vesalainen took a bad interference penalty negating a Jets power play just 18 seconds in. Vesalainen looked far better in game 1, but it is clear he has NHL level skill.

I don’t know if there is a better example of the phrase “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” in the NHL than Claude and Brendan Lemieux, though Max Domi may have something to say about that. Lemieux plays mean and far bigger than his stature. He’s not afraid of anyone. He proved it taking a run at the much bigger Milan Lucic near the end of the period. The two exchanged some well wishes all the way back to the bench and continued to discuss their disagreement through a great chance by Jack Roslovic who split the D with tremendous speed for a chance just before the buzzer. Overall a decent first for Winnipeg.

The teams traded goals just minutes into the second as Logan Stanley turned the puck over to Connor McDavid in front of the net. Nugent-Hopkins was the recipient of a great feed and the Oilers were up two. Marko Dano responded quickly however, leading a rush into the Oilers end and snapping a wrister past Cam Talbot. It was a beautiful play by Dano who was able to delay and dip a shoulder enough to give himself enough space to wind up and unload a great shot. Dano has scored in both games and is making himself an option for the opening night roster.

Just over a minute later the Jets top line tied the game. Adam Lowry created a turnover by taking the body behind the Oilers net. After some pressure the puck worked its way to Josh Morrissey who started a great passing play. He went cross ice to Copp who found Lowry for the tap in on top of the crease. It was a beautiful goal for Winnipeg and showed the chemistry these guys have together. This is what makes this line good, the forecheck, size and skill. If they can continue to grow from last year this line can be a difference maker for Winnipeg.

The Oilers would regain the lead before the end of the second as Ty Rattie scored his third of the preseason and first of two in the game. This was another tough one for Stanley as the big defenseman lost his man in front of the net. The puck went there and Stanley watched the it go into his own net for the third time in the game. Stanley has certainly improved since last season and I think he still has a chance to be a good NHL defenseman. Unfortunately that is still a while away, and the Oilers showed him that last night. The big defenseman was victimized by the Oilers speed and skill.

For two periods the Jets young guns did a relatively good job controlling the Oilers vets and keeping them in check. Unfortunately for Winnipeg this was a 60 minute game and not 40. The Oilers big names took over the third and victimized Winnipeg for four third period goals. McDavid, Lucic, Nugent-Hopkins and Rattie found the score sheet for Edmonton as they controlled the play in the final frame.

McDavid proved again why he is the best offensive player in the league as the Oilers seemed to get a chance every time he touched the puck. His goal was a thing of beauty going top shelf in full stride and really slamming the door on any chance of a Jet comeback. The two-time reigning scoring champion finished with three points and at times made the game look unfair.

Andrew Copp added to his night with the Jets lone goal of the final frame. It was Sami Niku who once again showed off his offensive prowess on this goal making a beautiful seam pass on the power play to give Copp the chance. The entire arena was thinking shot, which opened up the lane for Niku to slide the puck through. Though he’s a long shot to make this team out of camp, Niku will be a Jet at some point this season and if he can continue to develop his defensive game he will be a force for many years.

It’s rare you can give up a touchdown and still look decent, but Eric Comrie did that in this game. Comrie was steady throughout the game and made some good saves. There is not a single goal where you can point the finger at Comrie as the Jets were simply outclassed on the ice. After his performance in the first preseason game Laurent Brossoit should still have the inside track at the back-up job, however Comrie will get another chance in the preseason.

Overall it was clearly not a great night for Winnipeg but the result is nothing to make you hit the panic button. The Oilers played much of their everyday roster and it showed on their way to a 7-3 win. In fact, not only did Edmonton play their stars, they played big minutes. McDavid led all forwards in ice time and Nugent-Hopkins and Leon Draisaital played more than any Winnipeg forward. The Jets stuck with them for two periods and that is what you should take out of this game.

Winnipeg got good performances from their top line, all three of which will likely play on the main roster for most, if not all of the season. Josh Morrissey looked solid in his first action of the year and some of Winipeg’s young talent is clearly pushing the bottom half of the team for roster spots. This competition will only be good for Winnipeg going forward.

In other news for the Jets. Ondrej Pavelec announced his retirement today through his agent. The 31 year-old played in 383 games for the franchise before ending his career with the New York Rangers. Pavelec had some turbulent times with Winnipeg and their fans but was a backbone of this team the first couple years after the move.

Dennis Beyak also reported during last nights game that Nic Petan’s absence from camp the last few days was due to the death of his father. Petan is in the midst of a battle for one of the final roster spots and was given a leave from the team. I speak for all my colleagues when I say our thought are with Nic and the Petan family.

  • Travis

    I had hoped that Stanley would hav progressed at least somewhat from last year, but instead he seems to have gotten worse. He was baaaad out there. He has been well and truly leapfrogged by the Jets’ other Defense prospects, especially with the good showing by Niku.

    Trouba also seemed to be phoning it in, hopefully that doesn’t continue into the regular season.

    Dano’s making a good case to be the one to fill that remaining hole on the Jets’ forward roster. More to it than just scoring goals, of course. Unless Petan makes a strong showing on his return, it’s down to him and Vesalainen.

  • Enjoy this meaningless win Oilers as the Jets were playing their 4th line with a team of prospects and their young #3 goalie while the Oilers had most of their opening line-up and they still had trouble against them for 3/4 of the game. The 1st time they meet this season and realize they have to play Schiefele and Littles lines with Helly in goal and Buff on D I’m sure reality will hit the Oilers and their fans.

    • LAKID

      If you think Brossiot is your #2 goalie the Jet’s are in trouble. The score aside Comrie surprised me, he didn’t let in any bad goals. How do you defend against the Oiler’s rusty first line? You can’t. I would expect The Jet’s ice a more NHL calibre team come Sunday and the senario is reversed……… if the first line stays in Edmonton.

    • Leichs

      Damn guys, 23-11 in shots for the Stockton Heat tonight so far, up 3-2. Jets full roster playing tonight too? Guess it might be Jets fans and not Oiler fans getting hit with a douse of reality #overrrated. We will see you on sunday with the Bakersfield Condors.