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Nugent-Hopkins Leads Oilers Over Jets

The Oilers squeak out a preseason win against the Jets in a game they probably should have lost.

Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

The Oilers brought out about half an actual NHL roster to Winnipeg for their third game of the preseason, which was pretty close to what the Jets decided to meet them with. It was a tough game to track, what with the play-by-play guy getting every third name wrong, and with plenty of the sloppy pond hockey you might expect from a preseason game.

Period One: Ugly

This writer only found out he would be doing the game summary midway through the first, so forgive me if my notes are incomplete. That said, you didn't need a notepad to know that it was a real slog for the orange and blue in the first twenty minutes.

After a strong opening shift from the 10-93-14 line during which the Jets looked like they were the team who would scramble tonight, the tides changed completely.

It was, by my eye, Keith Aulie who failed to clear centre before icing the puck, forcing Dallas Eakins to take his timeout just three minutes into the game. After that, the Jets sustained pressure in the Oilers zone for much of the period.

After a missed hook on Nugent-Hopkins, Evander Kane was sent on a clear breakaway the other way. Eberle was called for the hook, resulting in a penalty shot that Kane put off the top of the crossbar.

Within minutes, Galiardi was sent in on Broissoit on another clean break—Nurse at centre ice being the closest Oiler to Galiardi, who was crossing the blueline at the point.

Bogdan Yakimov seemed to come alive near the end of the period, controlling the puck on a zone entry, failing to create much of anything offensively due to a lack of legitimate linemates.

Period Two: Half-Ugly

With Nuge in the box, the Jets start the second period on the powerplay. Thirty-five seconds in, Kane dings one off the post, coming this close to making it 2-0.

1:00—Nurse stands his man up at the blueline and prevents a zone entry. Ten seconds later, the Jets try the same side again and Halischuk feeds Kane for the Jets second goal.

3:30—Tangradi beats Schultz cleanly to the icing attempt and creates a scoring chance.

4:30—Wheeler should have a goal off a scramble around the Oilers crease, but misses the open net. Keith Aulie can be seen on his knees, facing his own net, no where close to stopping Wheeler from getting a clean shot off.

6:00—Marincin stops Halischuk from getting a shot off a point shot rebound.

8:00 —Hamilton takes a shift with RNH and Ebs…where’s Yakupov?

9:30—Bogdan Yakimov controls the puck and enters the zone, gets a shot off. Off that same entry, Pitlick gets the Oilers best chance of the night after blowing over the d-man and walking out in front. It's a poor finishing attempt, though.

10:00—Pitlick battles hard in the corner, loses his stick, but keeps the puck in his skates while going side to side behind the net.There's no shot attempt off the work, but a decent effort.

10:30—Hamilton out on another shift with the first line. Nuge comes out of the defensive zone and feeds Eberle on the wall. Eberle feeds it back to Nuge who enters the zone, cuts to the middle and finishes with a sick wrister. We've seen that shot a few times from him already this preseason. A positive sign.

On the next shift, Yakupov is out with Pouliot and Draisaitl. He carries the puck in twice and gets a SA off each rush. Pressure is sustained after the second entry, resulting in a shot on net.

13:30— Pitlick beats the d-man to the puck on a negated icing call. He's having a strong night.

14:00—Gernat with a decent play, taking a hit from Kane and maintaining possession on the end boards.

15:00—Pouliot strips the point man, Pardy, of the puck and takes off on a breakaway. He misses the net by what seems like a large margin. It's a hard wrist shot, anyways.

16:00—Tkachev and Yakimov go in on a 2-on-1 and the little one feeds the big one with a slick saucer pass. Yakimov finishes on the play, getting a one-timer up and over Hutchinson.

19:51—Tkachev with a beautiful feed to Schultz who finishes the play that began off of Yakimov's controlled zone entry. The Oilers go up 3-2.

By the end of the period, it's abundantly clear that the Oilers had the wrong guys playing together for the first half of the game.

Third Period: Hold On

Rimmer starts the period in goal for the Oilers.

Right off the bat, Eberle forces a turnover. Hamilton makes a nice play to Nuge in the slot for a scoring chance.

0:40—Draisaitl draws a holding call, sticking out his butt on Morrissey.

4:00—Ehlers nearly goes in on a break but loses the puck. Then he stands up Aulie, twice his size, in the corner.

5:00—Nuge is looking really confident out there, controlling the puck, taking it out into the front and getting off a back hand on net.

5:40—Yakupov comes in alone, cuts into the middle and gets a great shot off.

6:40—Nurse with a nice spin move to keep the puck in on the point on the powerplay. Makes a crisp pass off the play.

7:30—Schultz gives the puck away on the powerplay. Jets nearly have a clean 2-on-1 going back the other way.

9:40—Oilers back to the powerplay off a highstick on Nurse (they call it interference). The Oil have trouble controlling the puck in the offensive zone. Pouliot is all alone with a rebound in front of the net, but can't put it in. Jets come back the other way shorthanded and draw a penalty, plus sustain control on the delayed call (11:40).

16:30—Nuge spins away from Trouba on the half wall, cuts to the corner and feeds Eberle for a great scoring chance.

16:50—Halischuk hits the post, inches away from tying the game.

For the final four minutes of the period, the Oilers do all they can to hold on.

And they do. They hold on.

Despite outshooting the Jets 31-29, the ice seemed tilted in the Jets favour for much of the game. A few adjustments to offensive line combinations saved the night for the Oilers. They got a big game from a small man who should be getting an average-sized entry-level contract from Craig MacTavish before this training camp is in the books.

A Parting Thought

I'm not sure who the TSN broadcasters are during their Jets coverage, but one made the audacious claim that Mark Scheifele—not Ryan Nugent-Hopkins—is the best centreman taken in the 2011 entry draft. Simply put, I disagree.

What do you all think? Does Scheifele warrant the title over the Oilers first-overall pick in 2011?