For a guy who many predicted would have trouble even hitting double-digits for an encore to the career-high 18 goals he scored for the Edmonton Oilers last season, ham-and-egger Ryan Jones is doing an awfully good job of showing up his critics.
Jones, 27, recorded his first career hat-trick in Friday’s 6-3 victory over the lousy Columbus Blue Jackets, giving him nine goals through 26 games this season — in other words, he’s already surpassed the projections for goals many predicated for the entire 2011-12 campaign.
"I’ve never scored two in a game, so just to get the two is pretty special," Jones told reporters. "I don’t know if you could ever expect that, especially a guy like me just grinding away. The goals don’t come that easy.
"On a night like tonight, especially when we needed them, it was something special. It’s one of the highlights of my NHL career so far."
LIGHTNING STRIKES AGAIN
Jones has just 42 career goals in 202 career games, and 28 of them have come in the 115 games he’s played with the Oilers since being picked up as a spare part on waivers from the Nashville Predators in 2009-10.
The most goals Jones scored in a season with Nashville was seven, hitting that mark twice. Then again, Jones never played a full season in Music City, getting into 46 games in 2008-09 and 41 in 2009-10.
The 18 he potted with the Oilers last season didn’t, however, convince the pundits he had much of chance of repeating that kind of production. Pre-season prognosticators weren’t impressed.
At The Cult of Hockey, Jones wasn’t even included in a graphic showing the breakdown for projected scoring by right wingers. David Staples did put in a mention, though, writing: "How many goals can we expect from the wingers this year? More than 110? More than 130? As many as 150?
"I’ll go with something in the 130 area for the wingers. That’s a big increase, I now. It would mean two 25 goal scorers (Hall, Eberle), two 20 goal scorers (Smyth, Paajarvi), two 15 goal scorers (Omark, Hemsky) and two five goal scorers (Jones, Eager)."
Over at Lowetide, Allan Mitchell of ON projected Jones to score five goals and add 11 assists for 16 points in 64 games in his popular Reasonable Expectations look at the Oilers for 2011-12. Jones today sits within two points of that at 9-5-14 with 56 games remaining.
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