Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Lowry lookin' good, real good

Rookie makes an immediate impact in first NHL game

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You only get one chance to make a good first impression, as the old saying goes, and Adam Lowry's Winnipeg Jets pre-season debut certainly has the club's brass and faithful now uttering one collective refrain:

"More, please."

The Jets fell 2-1 to the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place Monday night in a sloppy, penalty-filled contest that had most desperately wishing to fast-forward to the real games next week. But -- for the Jets at least -- the most interesting subplot was the debut of Lowry, the club's big centre, whose stock within the organization could best be represented by an arrow pointing straight up into the stratosphere.

Lowry, who missed the first chunk of training camp after crashing into the end boards on the first day, jumped off the page in his very first shift of the pre-season, blasting a pair of Oilers with a couple of molar-rattling hits. He had five hits in just five shifts in the first, picked up a couple more in the second and was steady all night in the faceoff circle.

-- WHAT TO DO?

The juicy decision with Lowry now is what to do with him in the immediate days ahead. He is exactly the kind of centre this organization desperately needs, especially with the move to a Western Conference that is stacked with ginormous pivots.

That said, while it might be tempting to keep him with the big club and see how the 20-year-old centre might develop, it still looks like he could use some polish in St. John's -- especially with his abbreviated training camp. But if he keeps improving this quickly, he might be on Kevin Cheveldayoff's speed dial for a quick call-up to the bigs. As third-round picks (67th overall in 2011), he is tracking to be a dandy.

"It felt good," Lowry said. "I was pretty excited to get it underway. I was a little nervous during the day, just anxious to get it underway. As the game wore on, I started to get more comfortable. The first two shifts I was able to get a couple of hits in and it allowed me to settle my nerves and know I could play with these guys.

"Right now I'm just taking it one day at a time. I don't know what's going to happen in the next few days. I'll be content to do my best, continue to try and get better. If I have to go down to the American Hockey League, that's not the worst thing."

-- WELCOME TO THE WEST, JETS

Winnipeg generated few quality offensive chances -- their lone goal was a Chris Thorburn knuckler that fooled Devan Dubnyk -- and seldom made the big netminder's night difficult. And this is exactly how the game is played in their new neighbourhood.

Of course, a lineup that features a second line of James Wright-Eric O'Dell-Matt Halischuk -- the Andrew Ladd-Bryan Little-Blake Wheeler trio did not make the trip -- hardly screams out "prolific."

The Jets were not without their opportunities, going uh-oh for the night on the power play. But two defensive lapses, one by Zach Bogosian, the other by Anthony Peluso, ended up with the puck deposited behind Eddie Pasquale. That's the kind of stuff that has to get cleaned up in advance of the regular season.

-- A VET RETURNS

It was hardly a classic, but Chris Thorburn -- who is battling to keep his gig as a fourth-line energy guy/tough hombre -- will do anything to help his cause. Making his pre-season debut, the veteran winger scored and served up his usual up-and-down, straight-line game.

"It definitely feels good. The better part is I'm finally in game action here," Thorburn told TSN 1290 after the first period. "(Missing time) is something I've never been through before. I've usually participated through training camp. It was definitely nice to get out and be in a competitive setting."

-- WHO WE LIKED

Jacob Trouba was solid again, eating up a lot of minutes, playing in all situations and looking nothing like a 19-year-old defenceman.

Evander Kane was without his new linemate in Devin Setoguchi, who did not make the trip, but led the Jets in shots again and played with an edge that is the trademark of his best games.

Michael Frolik may have been a role player in Chicago, but with the increased ice time in Winnipeg may be a double-digit third-line goal man the Jets crave.

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

MOre jets on C2

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 24, 2013 C1

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