By Scott Billeck
Winnipeg Jets head coach Claude Noel promised changes after their 3-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators and followed through on his promise a day later. The Jets cut loose 10 players, shortening their training camp roster to 48. Tuesday night the Jets got their first win of the pre-season 3-2 and an argument could be made that consistency was the key.
The final three minutes of the game produced a flurry of activity as the Jets gave up two goals in :23 span after scoring one of their own just :56 seconds prior. The Jets were able to hold onto the one goal lead however, and besides the lapse at the end of the game, the Jets were quite consistent all night.
“I thought we started out the first period a little tentative,” Noel stated after the game. “The second period I thought we settled in, we were way more aggressive on the fore-check and I thought we were strong in the second and played pretty decent in the third until the final three minutes. I think we took the foot of the gas once we went up 3-0 and really our focus was lost.
“There were a lot of good things you could get out of the game, there was a lot of teaching moments in the game, especially in the last three minutes, and I thought the play of some guys was very good.”
The first period allowed for the Jets to utilize all 20 skaters as they killed two penalties and had a power-play to boot.
Olli Jokinen centred the top line with Evander Kane and Devin Setoguchi, a line that played together the whole night. Jets 2011 first round draft pick Mark Scheifele found himself with Michael Frolik and James Wright and Eric O’Dell played with Carl Klingberg and Eric Tangradi, a line that combined for four points on the night.
“Scheifele played a good game,” said Noel. “Tangradi got a couple of assists, he was physical — he banged — I thought he made some decent plays and was all over the place.”
While Jokinen’s line shined throughout the game, Scheifele’s took sometime to get going. Scheifele himself had an underwhelming first period but was able to turn it up a notch in the second. His excellent vision was displayed as he found Frolik in front of the net for a quality scoring chance early.
“Frolik is a pretty reliable player, I think the fact that he gets on the board is a plus for us. He has done this before, I think that he is a guy in this game, I used him in a fair bit of ways. He is a reliable guy, he is experienced.”
Two days after ESPN didn’t rank Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, the Czech net minder got a chance to prove his critics wrong and turned in a solid performance.
Pavelec stopped 24-of-26 shots on route to the victory in his first start of the pre-season and was positive after the game, despite allowing two goals in :23 seconds in a wild finish.
“It’s about the details,” Pavelec said. “We have to be focused all 60 minutes. We have to be ready every shift, it was a good experience for the guys.”