Insights from a meatless loss
Jets Dubois, Perfetti show chemistry, rough start for Stanley, youngsters show some nerves
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/09/2022 (186 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Winnipeg Jets opened their six-game preseason schedule with a 4-0 loss to the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place Sunday night.
The Oilers wasted little time taking control in this one, with Markus Niemelainen finding a lane through traffic to beat David Rittich just 41 seconds after the opening faceoff. It would be a long break between goals, with Edmonton adding three more in the third frame, including the final two over a span of 27 seconds to prevent any chance of a Jets comeback.
James Hamblin, Ryan McLeod and Dylan Holloway were credited with the third-period goals, while Stuart Skinner (19 saves) and Calvin Pickard (10 saves) combined for the shutout. Rittich played all 60 minutes, finishing with 22 saves on 26 shots in his Jets debut.
Winnipeg will have the day off on Monday before returning Tuesday to take on the Ottawa Senators at Canada Life Centre. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.
But before we look too far ahead, here are some news, notes and analysis from Sunday’s preseason defeat to the Oilers.
1) It was finally made public that Dan Robertson will be the new TV play-by-play voice of the Jets for regional games on TSN. Why it took so long to announce the news is still unclear. Whatever the reason, it didn’t stop Robertson from making a solid first impression, even if he’ll have to wait to call his first Jets goal. He’s comes as advertised.
2) The Jets dressed an inexperienced lineup, with the only regulars from last year being forwards Pierre-Luc Dubois, Mason Appleton, Cole Perfetti, Jansen Harkins and Dominic Toninato, along with defencemen Dylan DeMelo and Logan Stanley. The Oilers also iced a young roster, with none of their superstars such as Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl getting the nod.
3) Head coach Rick Bowness selected three alternate captains, giving the As to Dubois, Appleton and DeMelo. It’s noteworthy because the Jets are currently without a defined leadership group after Bowness stripped Blake Wheeler of his captaincy and is taking a wait-and-see approach before determining a team of – likely made up of four – alternates.
4) It was exactly the kind of game you’d expect from a preseason opener. Bowness used adjectives such as “ugly” and “scrambly” and that’s exactly what it looked like through much of the game. Add in the fact that the Jets are installing completely new systems in all three zones and it’s no surprise the game was mostly sloppy.
5) While it’s important not to draw too many conclusions from a single preseason game, and especially the first one, it wasn’t a great night for Stanley. He bungled a routine outlet pass to the side boards that led to the game’s opening goal, was off on a few other passes and just didn’t look comfortable throughout. Stanley is battling for one of the final spots on the blue line and he didn’t make much of an argument for himself on this night.
6) The Jets offensive attack was inconsistent, with very few high-quality chances generated. When the Jets did get a good opportunity in close, it often led to a shot being fired wide or high of the net. Not even four power plays, including a 5-on-3 for 50 seconds, resulted in much more than shots from the perimeter. To be fair, the Jets had yet to spend any training camp time, at least on-ice, working on the man advantage. A video was shown to players in the morning.
7) While they didn’t dominate by any stretch of the imagination, there seemed to be some chemistry brewing between Dubois and Perfetti. Perfetti is set to take on a top-6 role to start the year, playing alongside Dubois and Wheeler on the second line. At just 20 years old, Perfetti possesses a high IQ and vision well beyond his years. It will be interesting to see how he can create ice for his new line mates after recovering from shoulder and back injuries.
8) Bowness noted after the game that he felt a lot of the younger players seemed nervous. While true, there were a few that stood out for positive reasons, including the trio of forwards Mikey Eyssimont, Kevin Stenlund and Saku Maenalanen. Eyssimont, who led the Moose with 42 points last season, brought a lot of energy, and Stenlund, a former second-round pick for Columbus in 2015, was able to use his 6-4, 211-pound frame effectively. Stenlund had a Grade A chance in the slot but sailed the puck high – opportunities he and others need to capitalize on if they hope to get a long look from Bowness. An honourable mention goes to forward Jeff Malott for mucking it up with several Oilers, bringing a level of physicality that wasn’t really seen from anyone else.
9) Something Bowness has preached all training camp is for the defence to be more active on the offensive rush – it’s a significant part of the Jets new philosophy of becoming a more aggressive team. That happened several times Sunday, with mixed results. On Edmonton’s third goal, defenceman Kyle Capobianco pinched deep, with forward Chaz Lucius covering for him. But as the puck moved up ice, Lucius had the puck chipped by him on the boards and then didn’t stay on his man, the play resulting in a race with Rittich for the puck and eventual goal. Forwards need to be sound in their assignments for this to be successful, and that was an example of what can happen when things break down.
10) Rittich had a tough start with the goal on the first shift, but credit him for bouncing back until the wheels fell off late in the third period. It’s easy to equate the string of third-period goals with Rittich’s penchant for falling apart in games, a reputation he’s garnered over the last few seasons. But I’m not ready to appoint much blame on him for this one, especially given how often he was hung out to dry in his own end while getting zero run support the other way.
After a slew of injuries playing hockey that included breaks to the wrist, arm, and collar bone; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to take his interest in sports off the ice and in to the classroom.