Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 09/18/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
Last Modified: 09/18/2013 7:26 AM | Updates
It will mean diddly and squat in two weeks when the puck drops for real and the first shift to the last carries a larger and deeper meaning.
But if the Winnipeg Jets are to morph into a playoff squad for the first time in their rebirth here in River City, then developing an expectation, not a hope, of winning has to become part of the dressing-room DNA.
And so while Tuesday night's 3-2 exhibition win over the Edmonton Oilers will mean zilch when the two open the regular season on Oct. 1, it does fuel the desire to change the collective thinking.
"You have to develop that mindset," said Michael Frolik, who scored one of the Jets' three goals. "What I learned in Chicago is you always have to believe. If you're going to be successful you need to believe and have the mindset you're going to give it every game.
"We are in a competition. Everybody wants to win. If you're not like that, you can't be in this room. Everybody has to be like that."
His weight will remain a secret, but the trimmer, leaner Dustin Byfuglien who suited up for his first pre-season contest Tuesday did all the things management craves from his game. He's a physically dominant difference-maker who hammered Ryan Hamilton into the end boards so hard in the first period, one of the doors swung open. He played just over 24 minutes, finished with a team-high five shots but was also on the ice for one of the late Oiler goals.
"I guess whoever was in charge of that door over there didn't quite lock it and the poor kid went through," said Byfuglien of the Hamilton hit. "He just kind of looked at me like, 'Oh, oh.'... I think he was just as shocked as I was."
Take an unofficial poll of Jets faithful as to who should be the second-line centre between Evander Kane and Devin Setoguchi -- Mark Scheifele or Olli Jokinen -- and we'd guess the totals would hit 90 per cent in favour of the fresh-faced kid, not the grizzled vet.
A thought, based on two pre-season games as a sampling: It might not matter who mans the middle as long as these two snipers are together. The Kane-Scheifele-Setoguchi trio was good for five points last Saturday in Belleville and while the Kane-Jokinen-Setoguchi combo was held scoreless Tuesday against the Oilers, there were some signs of chemistry.
Perhaps the critical part of the question is this: With Kane and Setoguchi's game already blending, which pivot is both the better distributor and defender?
A big discussion point in Jetville this week was ESPN's ranking of Ondrej Pavelec as the 27th best goaltender in the NHL. What we saw for about 59 minutes Tuesday was the big Czech's counterpoint. Pavelec wasn't busy, but he was steady. And then for a 23-second stretch late in the third, the Jets took their foot off the gas and the Oilers potted two behind Pavelec.
All of which, of course, hammers home Claude Noel's assertion that once the attention to detail on defence improves so, too, will Pavelec's numbers.
"We got the win and we need to have that attitude right away," said Pavelec. "We have to learn from this game, that we have to be focused all 60 minutes."
Eric Tangradi didn't see his name appear on the scoresheet often last year, but there he was Tuesday picking up two assists. And that's partly the byproduct of all the competition for jobs.
"I don't think I've ever been in training camp and had my name written on paper anywhere... And I think it's great," he said.
--with files from Paul Wiecek
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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 18, 2013 0
Updated on Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 6:43 AM CDT: Replaces photo
7:26 AM: Corrects typos
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