Pre-season hockey is choppy at the best off times. Add in a Minnesota Wild team that aims to remove all of the hockey from a hockey game and you have a tightly contested contest that features very few goals. That said, the goals don't matter. The pre-season is about finding a rhythm and for the Winnipeg Jets it is about prospects as much as anything.
Who will make the team? What will the lines be? These are questions that many are eager to see answered.
Nikolaj Ehlers, his play and whether or not he will make the team is probably the biggest story line of the pre-season. Nik is probably the odds on favorite to fill the vacant top nine roster spot and his play today did nothing to change that. Ehlers flashed his marvelous skills repeatedly and was among the Jets' most dangerous forwards.
Ehlers wasn't the only source of intrigue on his line. Young Nik laced up and skated along side Mathieu Perreault and recent returnee, Alexander Burmistrov. The trio was all over the ice early and despite their lack of size were very hard to handle. It will be interesting to see if this line sticks into the regular season.
Nic Petan also had himself a strong showing. He was saddled with some rough linemates, but he made the best of it and helped keep his line in the offensvie zone for extended stretches. Perhaps the most interesting part of these runs was how much time Petan spent in the net-front pestering Backstrom.
Petan also sprung Raffl for a breakaway with a beautiful pass and at one point took the offensive zone 1 on 4 and still managed to get the puck deep. Lots to like about this kid and he appear to be hurt by his size at any point.
Speaking of nice passes, Josh Morrissey made a few beautiful passes. He definitely appeared to be more at home in the organized and structured team game that is played in pro-hockey.
Joel Armia is another player that stood out to me in a positive way. He didn't flash anything crazy on the offensive side, but his defensive awareness, reach and puck skill stood out. His linemates, Andrew Copp and Brendan Lemieux were pretty quites
On to the vets! Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler were buzzing early and often with both players showing off their incredible speed. What they lacked today was finish. Considering this was game one of the pre-season it is probably safe to call it rust, but it was very visible. This duo probably could have had a trio of goals if they had their hands.
Drew Stafford wasn't quite as in tune with his linemates and made a handful of odd decisions. He also missed a few clear reads in transition. I worry some about the defensive ability of that line with Wheeler flying up the ice - as he should - and Drew losing his check with regularity.
Ondrej Pavelec and Connor Hellebuyck were laser through regulation and helped take the game to overtime.
Speaking of overtime, that three-on-three is absolutely insane. Crazy hockey at a crazy pace. That was a ton of fun.