The Edmonton Oilers entered game three of their preseason schedule 2-0 and averaging five goals per game. Surely it wouldn’t keep.
And it surely didn’t as Wednesday night they fell 5-1 to the Winnipeg Jets.
The Oilers dressed a young lineup to square up with the Winnipeg Jets’ big guns and Edmonton looked outmatched. Similar to the opposing Seattle Kraken from Tuesday, the Oilers couldn’t get much going all night.
And when the Oilers did have limited chances, well… Connor Hellebuyck did his thing. Pinch me if you’ve heard this story before.
But that’s fine — it’s pre-season and it’s a great chance for all the players to cut their teeth in-game action. I was relatively surprised to see such a veteran-laden lineup Tuesday, so it wasn’t a shock to see the team go with the group they did Wednesday.
Things worth mentioning…
- Ilya Konovalov had a great game, despite allowing three goals on 19 shots. Winnipeg jumped out to an early lead when defenceman Michael Kesselring and Markus Niemalinen as well as forward Cooper Marody got caught watching the play. Konovalov had the first save, but not the rebound. Goal two saw a puck deflected in the slot — not much he could do. On the third goal, Evan Bouchard got caught out of position and a puck pinballed around the crease before popping into the net. Despite that, he had stout positioning all night and made a few massive saves to keep the Oilers in the game. There’s a legitimate chance he challenges for minute in net this season.
- Warren Foegele didn’t look out of place. I thought he played a good game with strong positioning all night long. Losing Ethan Bear stings, without a doubt, but Foegele is going to be a real solid middle-six forward for the Oilers this year and I’m excited to see what he can do. He was on the top line with Ryan McLeod and Zack Kassian Wednesday night and that’s a line we could see as the Oilers’ third in the regular season. Foegele and Kassian played 20:16 and 20:50, respectively while McLeod hit the 21:37 mark.
- I thought Tyler Benson had a strong game, too. A bit shaky at first as was much of the roster, but things settled down for him throughout the game. If he wants to be an NHL player this is where he needs to take the step and take advantage of the opportunity. He was drafted five years ago now and it’s time for him to take the next step in his career. Wednesday’s game helps his case.
- Cody Ceci got turnstiled at the blue on the Jets’ fourth goal. He got caught reaching for a puck instead of taking the man, and it let Jansen Harkins walk-in unabated to score on Stuart Skinner, who took the second half of the game. It was a weak Oilers lineup overall and there’s going to be growing pains on a new team, but we’ve seen plenty of instances where Ceci does exactly this in his past.
- After the game, head coach Dave Tippett said they’ve got their sights set on Saturday as “get sharp mode.” With Thursday off and back-to-back games Friday-Saturday, I could see the Oilers trimming up their camp roster more over the next few days. Edmonton still has 52 players in camp and that’s going to change sooner rather than later.