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.

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  • 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.

    • 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

      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.

        • 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.

  • On Gregors journal article.

    In the real world… men dealing with personal affronts deal with them personally, if I’m Hall… its not Nurses problem or Hendys problem… its my problem. Until that barrier is crossed……very little changes.

  • ATL Oiler

    I suggest everyone checkout first 10-15 games on the regular season schedule. It’s tough and pray we can come out close to .500 or draft groundhog day talk returns in November ….

    • freelancer

      Indeed it is. The Oilers have to be able to take advantage of some teams and shake the rust off earlier than their opponents. Having the regular season roster sorted out earlier in pre season should go a long way in helping that.

  • mcjesus take the wheel

    Look for Nurse to be our most dominant defenseman , as he was in Calgary . Hopkins was our most dominant forward in Calgary , and looks poised to have a big year . To bad Winnipeg sending such a watered down team . Oilers 7-1 . Wonder if Oilers are ever going to play Nurse with anybody other than also rans ?

  • bradleypi

    I love that McLellan is pretty much forming his lines as early as possible. Should be an interesting test for Reinheart tonight paired with a plug like Nikitin. Something tells me people will stop saying he has mobility issues after playing alongside the Russian.

    Speaking of Russians, even though it’s only preseason, it would be great to Yak have another solid game.