It was actually quite difficult to follow the game tonight. Between the fact that none of the on-ice Oilers combos were recognizable and also that the game itself was kind of disjointed and unexciting there just wasn't a whole lot to sink your teeth into.
This is more of the type of lineup I would expect in a preseason. Lots of guys competing for spots on the squad. It is good to see this many guys who are fighting for an NHL job. They aren't as good as I'd like to see for the most part, but at least the competition is there.
When it comes to the Jets, we certainly didn't see a lot. The only really noticeable guy was Kane and he really wasn't doing anything special. Their goaltender was really nothing to write home about either.
For most of the night each team's D was keeping everything to the outside and there were not a lot of quality shots. I'm guessing this was mainly a function of the forward lineups but it is harder to see a good defenseman playing a solid game unless he does it Pronger-style.
I'm definitely not used to the Jets in these newer colors. Even though it has been a long time, I keep looking for the royal blue rather than the navy. I'm sure that will change but it is funny the things that stick with you. Kind of like how the Oilers orange actually stands out less than the previous generation of white on dark numbers.
SO let's get to the individual players which are what we're really interested in at this point.
- Very good night for Devan. He wasn't tested like crazy, but looked poised, ready and well-positioned throughout the entire game. I'm not sure what exactly it is but he just looks more sure of himself this year. Whether that is because of another year of experience, being given the #1 tag or a combination of things I don't know, but there's just a different vibe coming from him. Make no mistake, that goal was an ugly one that would have went wide if he hadn't got it with the knob of his stick, but I wouldn't count it as a mistake under pressure goal. There was a weird one immediately after that which also almost went in but he really settled in subsequently. Strong game.
- He makes this team in the top 6. No doubt. Tonight was filled with steady plays, strong passes, good decisions and excellent positioning. This is two games in a row where he made it look pretty easy as a veteran NHLer would. I can't wait to see what he looks like after 20 games. We could have a real gem here. If we'd have been able to snag Paul Ranger as well, we might have gotten 2 top-4 defensemen for nothing. Oh well. Funny note of the night - Belov didn't know what to do with the hat when he was named a star at the game. He just kind of waved it around and went back down the tunnel. Bit of a language barrier there I guess. Hahaha.
- He looked like a vet who is simply out there getting ready for the reason. There's nothing really wrong with that I suppose but it doesn't give us a lot to work with. He is usually in the right place though I have noticed between this game and one on TV that he doesn't seem to play the man very well in front of the net. He gets caught away from the man and can't close the gap fast enough. I hope we're not counting on him to be a superstar shutdown guy.
- Looked a little off to me in that he got beat a couple times and took a pretty weak penalty. I really have no problem with a vet having a game like this. Maybe a touch off the pace especially on the WPG goal as he reached with his stick rather than getting in front of the man as he usually would.
- I get that the guy is talented. Tonight he moved around the ice pretty quickly and you can certainly see his puck talent in the offensive zone. I kept asking though if he was better than Brad Hunt (who can't make this team) was and I don't think he is in the offensive zone. His reads are good but not great. He made several strong passes across the zone, but didn't really get the puck to the net effectively aside from one slapper and contributed very little elsewhere. It will really come down to what kind of lineup Eakins wants. He has options.
- Ho-hum boring kind of game. Not a stand-out performance like last night but if that was the norm he'd already be in the league. Didn't see a lot of negatives from him but also didn't see any really strong passes, hits or reads. He probably needs more spark in his game if he wants to displace Larsen/Grebeshkov because those guys have been in the NHL before.
- I honestly saw him twice. That means he didn't do anything amazing but also didn't have serious mistakes. I don't recall him getting beat wide, which was a problem for him later. I'll be interested to see who he is paired with.
- Bloody invisible. I remember a hit a one good forecheck. Aside from that he really struggled. If there's a guy who is playing his way out of a previously guaranteed spot, it is him. Eakins likely doesn't have the loyalty that Jones would have gotten from another coach and so the guy can't be coasting. Games like tonight prove to me that he really has forgotten why he was originally brought in. He can't drift around the ice waiting for something to happen because he isn't that type of player. He needs to be out there busting it and he simply isn't. If camp is all that's being judged, he'd be cut.
- Another goal for him tonight which is nice to see. I didn't catch a lot of flashy details but he did seem to be in the right places on the ice. The one thing I struggle with is that because we've been so bad for a number of years, judging the marginal players by eye has become more difficult. We've gotten used to a lower standard. Thing is, given that Sam Gagner looks like a horror movie actor at this point, this guy might make the opening night squad.
- After last night's stronger performance you'd expect the guy might get rolling. That wasn't the case and I was fairly disappointed at the lack of jump in his game tonight.
- Well at this point I'm betting this guy makes the team and I'm not really complaining. A world-beater he is not, but he's a big guy who can skate some, take a pass and seems to have a bit of a nose for the net. I liked his goal as a textbook example of how and why you drive the net. He hits from a strong skating position and seemed to chose his spots well. He needs to work on positioning some but that can come with coaching. Ideally he'd be on the 4th line but I'm guessing he'll start on the third. Worth giving him a chance though I would like to see if he can keep up against a more NHL ready roster. We shall see.
- I went in expecting not to like his game because his story has been quite frustrating and I was wondering why everyone's still bothering to talk about him. The game on TV the other night did nothing to change this for me but I try not to form my picture from how the game looks there because you can't see the flow of the play. I don't know how much better he was tonight but the guy put together a pretty solid game. He made sure to finish his check more than any other player on the ice, got the puck to the net, got over his freezing with the puck problem and ended up with an assist for his trouble. If he could actually keep that game up I suspect he'd make the team out of nowhere because he is more talented than most of the other options but he just doesn't have a track record. We'll have to see if he keeps going, but I was impressed.
- Quiet but decent game I'd say. Made a couple nice plays in the offensive zone which is an important thing to see. Didn't catch him breaking up a lot of plays or hitting anyone like his competition was. The only reason he's in the conversation is the position he plays.
- He was the strongest of the marginal C's in the offensive zone tonight. There's no doubt he's reasonably talented. The thing I can't get past in his game which was on display again tonight was that he doesn't try to get to the slot and makes plays from the outside. You have to be truly elite to make plays from there at the NHL level and he is not. The guy needs to shift more of his game to the middle of the ice. It was good that he got the shots he did and he's a better PP player than most, but if anything Omark is the guy you need as a PP extra. Again, this is a guy who is only in the conversation because of his position.
- Same old. Ran around laying mediocre hits. I did like some of his forechecking and the fact that he got under Kane's skin some. Thing is, if you want toughness that does something, you want the Pitlick and Joensuu types, not this guy.
- I don't get it. This is a huge opportunity for him and he's doing nothing. Eager throws in a nifty stickhandle and some good skating every now and again, but where are the hits? Where is the getting in people's faces? Where is his positioning in the offensive zone? It is really unfortunate that any game he had appears to be gone, because it would be great if the guy found the ability to be a useful player again. I don't see how he will.
- Looked kind of lost tonight. There were some strong rushes on the boards but that was about it. He is rushing the shot on the 5-on-3 a bit. Trying to do this means you have to beat the goalie clean rather than having him moving around a bunch or screened. Not many NHL goalies get beaten this way with any regularity. Really liked that Eakins had him PKing. There is potential there because of his high skill level, high speed and willingness to work very hard.
- Didn't do much of anything. It almost seemed like he was concentrating really hard on positioning and taking his man. I agree that he needs to learn that but games like this are not the time. He needs to be out there being a dynamic offensive guy. We didn't see much of that. Part of the issues was that the line as a whole didn't work out very well but that can't be an excuse when you're trying to make a team. Hope he plays again tomorrow because one bad night shouldn't doom his chances. He should switch to C!
- Honestly he did his normal job just fine but looked totally lost combined with Yakupov and Omark. This was a little strange to me because he didn't seem to have this issue in his last game but it was certainly the case tonight. Doesn't worry me. I'd class him with Ference in terms of what a preseason game looks like to him.
Pretty boring game really, but I love getting a win whenever.