GDB -6.0: Here Come the Jets

GameOfGoals

The good news about split squad games is that it eliminates two preseason games in one night. Todd McLellan is not a fan, because he didn’t get to watch 20 players up close to see how they reacted on the road against a more established NHL roster, and I can understand his frustration, but selfishly, I like getting to the meat of the preseason games.

The Jets lineup tonight will be similar to the one the Flames dressed in Edmonton on Monday, only a few NHL regulars, but it does give us another opportunity to see how the Oilers and McLellan are adapting to one another.

The more I watch McLellan’s practices and listen to him talk, the more impressed I am about his approach to the game, but also his strategy on handling players. He is more experienced than Ralph Krueger, Dallas Eakins and Todd Nelson, he’s more aggressive than Tom Renney and he’s more in touch with the game and his players than Pat Quinn was during his time in Edmonton.

McLellan also has a much better roster to mold than those five gentleman. His coaching acumen combined with more talent will make the Oilers a much more competitive team. I’m skeptical they can improve by 35 points to make the playoffs, but I’m expecting a significant improvement in the standings, and more importantly in their overall team game.

It will be a nice change of pace to cover some positive story lines for the first time in almost a decade, and I’m curious to see which players continue to improve and which players Peter Chiarelli decides are not part of the long-term solution.

The Oilers have improved in many areas, but they have one glaring weakness that needs to be addressed.

LINEUP

Pouliot-RNH-Eberle
Lander-Draisaitl-Yakupov
Hendricks-Letestu-Korpikoski
Slepyshev-Yakimov-Christoffer

Klefbom-Schultz
Reinhart-Gryba
Nurse-Oesterle

Talbot

Jets

Burmistrov-Lowry-Armia
Halischuk-Cormier-Raffl
Fraser-Copp-Lipon
Olsen-De Leo-Kosmachuk

Pardy-Chariot
Melchiori-Harrison
Kichton-Nogier

Hutchison and Comrie

**The Jets lines are projections. Those are the 18 skaters, but pairings and lines not guaranteed.**

QUICK HITS

  • McLellan used today as a regular practice day instead of a morning skate. Group A was on the ice first and then Group B took to the ice. Tonight’s roster will be a mixture of both groups. McLellan used the skate to focus on offensive possession. They worked on cycling off the boards, out of the corner and when and where he wants the players to go to create offence. He also worked on forwards positioning in the D-zone. They will play closer to the goal, and he stresses support. He wants the forwards closer, so the D can make shorter passes.
  • Teddy Purcell sat out again. He likely won’t play this weekend either. Iiro Pakarinen is also nursing some sort of injury. He has yet to play a preseason game.
  • Tonight is the first of three straight games where the Oilers will play 3-on-3 overtime. The NHL mandated 45 preseason games would go to OT, regardless of the score in regulation. It allows teams to get used to the new OT format. I’ve been talking about 3-on-3 for years, ever since I used to call AJHL games and they played four minutes of 4-on-4, and three minutes of 3-on-3 in OT. It was very  exciting, and I’m certain NHL fans and players are going to love the new format.
  • OKC was one of the best 3-on-3 teams in the AHL last year, and Todd McLellan has been watching their game film with Gerry Fleming to find out what worked well for them.
  • McLellan didn’t get to see the RNH or Letestu lines or any of the D-men, except Oesterle, live on Monday, which is why you are seeing much of the Calgary lineup in Edmonton. He is a big believer of watching the players in person to get a feel for how they react and play. Smart move.

TONIGHT….

Meow

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers defeat a watered-down Jets lineup 4-1.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Draisaitl continues his strong Young Stars/preseason by scoring a goal and adding an assist.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Slepyshev scores a nice goal and a few Nation commenters will suggest he should get a long look to start season.

Recently by Jason Gregor:        

  • YFC Prez

    Nice one timer by Schultz!!! He does have a nice shot, I wish we would see it more like that.

    He’s had a very promising start to preseason. Keep it up!

  • YFC Prez

    And look and Schultz flying across the ice and getting after the jets for that late hit on klefbomb.

    His give a sh!t meter is way up from where we left off last season.

    • bradleypi

      It wasn’t just schultz who’s give a crap meter was non existent last year. There were a lots of guilty oilers of that last year. Understandable seeing as how their season was over in December. Not sure why Schultz is the only one that takes heat for it tho. Especially considering he’s an offensive dman who isn’t overly physical…….

      • YFC Prez

        Hall takes the most heat out of all of them for not sticking up for teammates, but you’re right it’s a team wide problem, Schultz just looks like he’s trying to do his part to remedy the situation tonight. I have never seen Schultz defend his partner with that much exuberance before. I want more.

        He’s been one timing the puck, battling in front of his own net, and getting in the Jets face after a questionable hit. I know it’s only preseason but I didn’t see any of this last year.

        Like I said before. This is all good, keep it up!

        • bradleypi

          I don’t know what bizarro world I’m in where skill players like hall and schultz are expected to police their team…. Wonder if fans in Phoenix complain that OEL doesn’t fight all the time…..

          • YFC Prez

            You’re missing my point. When the other guys on the bench see a player like Schultz getting in the Jets face after a questionable hit on a teammate they’re more inclined to stand up for each other as a group.

            Gazdic and Hendricks can’t do it all by themselves. The whole group needs to bear that burden.

            That doesn’t always mean dropping the gloves either. Just some push back.

          • bradleypi

            Lol. If you say so. I’m not sure how Schultz skating into a scrum and getting thrown on his ass changes momentum in a game but keep telling that story cause it’s great. And the point I was trying to make all summer is that hall ebs and schultz were doing stuff like that. You and oilersnation would just cherry pick your argument and ignore when they would get in scrums. Hugging your opponent and possibly taking penalties doesn’t help win games. Scoring goals does.

          • YFC Prez

            All I’ve done this game is rave about what a great game Schultz had. If this type of play continues into the regular season there will be several ecstatic fans on here.

            Make no mistake every oiler fan wants to see Schultz succeed, few think he will, even fewer think he already has ( you). But everyone who cheers for the oil would love to see Schultz tear it up this season.

            I’m just blown away that somehow my support of Schultz actions and great gameplay tonight somehow turned into a debate against the worlds biggest Schultz supporter. Befuddled….completely befuddled.

          • bradleypi

            Lol. Befuddled like how you interpret how an offensive dman plays hockey? Because most of your thoughts of how Schultz should play more like Scott Stevens has me befuddled….

          • YFC Prez

            I have read your posts tonight and I am very disappointed. Your analysis of various players is very shallow and certainly designed to raise the hackles on Oiler fans.

            Maybe, when you get a little older you will be able to contribute more intelligently to this site. Sure hope so because it would be nice to have you as a prolific and meaningful participant.

          • Train#97

            No body is saying they need to police the team but it sure does wonders for Schultz perception when he was the first one to jump into a scrum. His teammates surely took notice as well

  • YFC Prez

    Gryba and Reinhart would make a pairing of Harold Snepts and Brad Marsh look quick. This Jets B team is really exposing this group of defenders. Good thing they don’t have any scorers playing.

    • YFC Prez

      I was just thinking how good Gryba and Reinhart were playing together tonight. Jets have been skating and circling but no real high quality chances are coming out of it. Both have played with a lot of poise.

      Nothing flashy just solid defensive play. That’s pretty much what we should expect from those 2 I would imagine.

    • bradleypi

      Lol. I haven’t seen talbot make a lot of tough saves tonight. I think the defence is playing fine. Not sure if you know this but generally forwards are faster than 3rd pairing dmen. Yeesh Reinhart hasn’t even played a regular season game yet and he’s getting the schultz treatment

    • YFC Prez

      If Ference is the 7 th man this season( very likely ). i would hope Hendricks gets serious consideration for the captaincy. Everyone talks about Hall or Nuge but Hendricks radiates leadership.

      I think he would be good.

        • CMG30

          I really wish those three were better defensemen, but their performance to date shows that they’re not.

          Nikitin’s window to show he still belongs in the NHL is closing fast. He’s in a contract year on a team crying out for competent defesemen. If he doesn’t step up this year, he’ll be hard pressed to find another job.

          Ference is in a tough spot. He’s a great guy, a consummate teammate and awesome in the community but age catches up with us all and he appears to be at the end of the line.

          Schultz is also in a make-or-break year. His greatest defender, MacTavish, has been demoted and the contract forced on Chirelli has got to leave a foul impression on new management. Schultz is particularly frustrating because he has a lot of the tools to be an effective puck moving defenseman but to date, he’s been unable to apply those tools effectively in the NHL, despite being gifted huge minutes, buttery soft competition and crazy zone starts. If this is the year Schultz puts it all together that would be fantastic -and it could happen!- but it’s becoming increasingly unlikely.

          • bradleypi

            Let’s come back to this in December when Schultz has it together on the 1st pairing where he belongs and ference is taking a regular shift on defence as I’m sure he doesn’t think he’s at “the end of the line” as you say. As for Niki I just don’t get how people can write him off after seeing him for a WHOLE half season. I agree he needs to step up. He’s definitely a wildcard to me but I’m cheering for him unlike you all.