The Winnipeg Jets took part in their final pre-season game last night, falling 3-2 in a shoot-out to the Nashville Predators. Despite the loss, the Jets looked to be the better team from the 2nd period on, out-shooting an almost fully-veteran Preds squad 37-24 and out-chancing them badly as well. The team finished their pre-season with a record of 3-3-1, but they were 2-0-1 in front of their 15,004 closest friends for the three home games they took part in. If you don't think that playing in the sold-out MTS Centre is going to help the team this season, you will be sorely mistaken. The atmosphere was nuts yet again, but we are just getting started. The real noise begins on Oct. 9th versus the Habs.
The Jets dressed a handful of veterans and a handful of "bubble" players, obviously giving a few guys one last chance to force their way onto the big squad. With cuts expected as early as today, it will be very interesting to see what Kevin Cheveldayoff, Craig Heisinger and Claude Noel decide to do with a number of them. With so many players still in camp, and so many of them playing very well during the pre-season, I know that I wouldn't want to be making these decisions. But if I were in their shoes, Mark Scheifele would be staying for sure! Game Recap and Post-Game Thoughts after the jump!
Nashville Predators 3 def. Winnipeg Jets 2 (S/O)
7:51 NSH Cal O'Reilly - Jordin Tootoo
5:57 WPG Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little & Blake Wheeler
7:28 NSH David Legwand - Mattias Ekholm (PPG)
13:07 WPG Mark Scheifele - Patrice Cormier & Johnny Oduya (PPG)
Blake Wheeler WPG Save
Cal O'Reilly NSH Goal
Tim Stapleton WPG Save
Sergei Kostitsyn NSH Miss
Bryan Little WPG Miss
- The line of Ladd-Little-Wheeler was again the best line on the ice. Ladd scored a beauty thanks to a nice play from Little, but they were buzzing with numerous chances of the high-quality variety. Again, Little showed how quick and crafty he can be, Ladd was a beast all night, and Wheeler compliments the other two nicely. I really think that this line will produce a ton for the Jets.
- Alexander Burmistrov has sick dangles. He drew at least one penalty thanks to his solid work along the boards, and looked dangerous all night. He also had the crowd buzzing with a stellar shift late in the third that had his defender twisting in the wind. With proper line-mates and some quality minutes, I think he will produce solid numbers this year. I noticed that he and Nik Antropov had really good chemistry the other night, and I can see them playing together on a line this season.
- The former Vancouver Canucks Kyle Wellwood and Tanner Glass were on the same line for most of the night, and both were okay. Wellwood made some nice plays and was pretty good overall, but he tried to get a little fancy with a few passes that didn't click. Glass was okay at best, though he did get involved in a nice tussle with Zach Stortini and landed a few punches to his ugly mug. I could see these two on the same line to start the year.
- Tim Stapleton was invisible. The only time I saw him was when he missed his attempt in the shootout. I have no idea where he fits into this organization, but I would prefer if Troy Bodie made it over him due to the fact that Bodie has size and can drop the mitts. I just don't see Stapleton getting the top-6 minutes that a guy like him would need.
- Jim Slater and Chris Thorburn were both hard to notice, but in their roles that is a good thing. They were effective on the PK, were solid defensively and played tough along the wall. Unlike Stapleton, I was glad that I didn't notice them because they are at their best when they are invisible.
- Janne Pesonen didn't do much to help his cause in my opinion, as barely noticed him for the second straight game. I am not sure if he has done enough to earn a two-way contract, let alone make the Jets. I guess we'll see.
- Patrice Cormier impressed me again. I believe that he is a lock for the bottom-6, and it appears that coach Noel likes him too judging by all of the ice-time he keeps getting. I really liked the Cormier-Maxwell-Bodie line the other night, and Cormier was solid in both home games this week.
- Mark Scheifele. What more can be said? The kid HAS to make the team, as he again was one of the best players on the ice. Fans in the stands are already wearing "Everyday I'm Scheifeling" t-shirts, and the MTS Centre was filled with "Scheifele! Scheifele!" chants after he scored the equalizer in the 3rd. He has earned his 9 games to start the season, and I wouldn't be surprised if he stays all season. If he doesn't though, at least I'll be able to see him dominate the World Juniors.
- I continue to be impressed by the pairing of Zach Bogosian and Mark Stuart. Bogosian really looks like the blue-chip defender that he was pegged to be, and Stuart just looks like the perfect partner for him. I really liked their game again and I believe that they will be a set d-pairing to start the season.
- Tobias Enstrom was really good, Johnny Oduya was solid, and Paul Postma was as well. Randy Jones was decent, but of the six defenders dressed tonight I thought that he was the weakest link. I think that Paul Postma has done all he can to make the squad, but I just think he is caught in the numbers game and will be sent down. Derek Meech and Randy Jones will be the two guys closest to the #7 spot, and I have no idea how this will shake out. Meech gets major points due to the fact that coach Noel is said to like that he can play forward as well, but Jones is on a one-way deal at $1.1M. This is a toss-up.
- Ondrej Pavelec was solid. The two goals that got by him in regulation time were rebounds that occurred because moments earlier the puck wasn't cleared. He is the unquestioned #1 goalie, and I'm excited to see what he can do this season.
- I have to admit that I was surprised that four guys were sent packing earlier in the day. It was even more surprising to me that Brett Festerling was one of them. He looked really good all pre-season, but much like Postma he had too many guys in front of him to beat out. Spencer Machacek looked decent and so did Carl Klingberg, but they obviously didn't do enough. As for David Koci? He never dressed in an exhibition game, so his release wasn't a surprise.
- After watching the Jets outshoot the Preds 37-24 with Nashville dressing Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Jonathon Blum and Kevin Klein, I can only imagine what this team could have done with Dustin Byfuglien, Evander Kane, Eric Fehr, Ben Maxwell and Ron Hainsey dressed. I really think that the Jets will be very competitive this season, and I am still optimistic that they will compete for a playoff spot. But for now, we wait. The Montreal Canadiens will be here in 8 days, and the official re-birth will commence. I just got goosebumps writing that. Awesome.