The Winnipeg Jets dressed an almost-NHL line-up this evening at MTS Centre. The Calgary Flames went the opposite way, going with an inexperienced group – ideally creating some clarity in the races for the final roster spots.
Both teams were what they were tonight: the mostly-NHL Jets were sharp and executed well en route to a 3-1 victory over the less-polished Flames in a game that didn’t really answer many questions, and actually created brand-new ones.
The Flames were pretty good in the first. They had jump. They had pep. They created chances and couldn’t really bury too many of ’em. A few minutes in, Micheal Ferland tried to find Joe Colborne in the slot, but Colborne over-skated the pass and it instead went to Deryk Engelland, whose shot eluded Hutchinson – I couldn’t quite tell if it went off a defender’s stick, but it definitely fooled him.
— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 2, 2015
However, the Jets struck back on the power-play. With Brett Kulak in the box, the Flames defense stood around watching a really nice deke by Nic Petan: leaving Mark Scheifele alone at the side of the net for an easy tap-in to tie it. And just when it looked like we’d go into the intermission all tied up, the Jets struck again with some nice stick-handling. This time, Nic Ehlers, Scheifele and linemate Thomas Raffl caused the Flames to slip, slide and flop around their zone, leading to an Ehlers goal through the five-hole of a sliding Joni Ortio to make it 2-1. Shots were 10-9 Flames in the first.
The second period was back-and-forth, albeit with the Jets hemming the Flames into their zone quite a bit. And the Flames gave up a second straight late goal, with Ben Chiarot finding Mark Scheifele with a quick pass, with Scheifele’s quick shot beating Ortio for a 3-1 lead. Shots were 12-7 for the Jets and Ortio was sharp in the middle frame.
Neither team really seemed to want to do much in the third period. The game got chippy. Brandon Bollig fought Anthony Peluso, who was thrown out of the game because another Jet had already dropped the gloves. The Flames pressed late, but really couldn’t generate anything – and whatever they did generate, Michael Hutchinson swallowed up. The Jets won 3-1. Shots were 16-5 Flames in the third, but that includes only a handful of really strong chances.
In goal: Joni Ortio allowed 3 goals on 26 shots. The first goal was a great pass by Petan to Scheifele, who was left all alone. The second goal was a nice shot by Ehlers and found a hole in Ortio’s equipment as the netminder slid side-to-side trying to cut down the angle. The third goal was probably the “worst” one, with Ortio playing deep in the net and getting caught by surprise as Chiarot’s pass made it through Engelland’s coverage and to Scheifele. I don’t think Ortio’s chances are dead given how bad the defense was in front of him at times, but he couldn’t steal a win for them, either.
On the blueline: Tyler Wotherspoon was -1 in 19:45, Jakub Nakladal was even in 25:43 (with 5 hits), Ryan Wilson was -1 in 16:17, Patrick Sieloff was +1 in 11:30 and Brett Kulak was -1 in 21:49. Wotherspoon, Kulak and Nakladal all had two shots apiece. Nakladal and Kulak probably did the most to help themselves, with Nakladal playing really smart and physical as the game wore on. Wilson was not good tonight, and over the past two games he’s back-slid a bit – probably sliding away from an almost-assured spot.
Up-front: Joe Colborne was +1 in 6:52 (but left the game due to injury), Mason Raymond was even in 24:50 (with 6 shots), Drew Shore was -1 in 10:11 (and 1-for-5 at the dot), Markus Granlund was -1 in 13:01 (and 3-for-9 at the dot) and Garnet Hathaway was even in 10:49 (with 3 shots). Granlund’s face-offs are really going to hurt him. Hathaway probably did the most to help himself, but Raymond was probably as good as he’s been all pre-season. That’s not saying a ton, but he was good.
In short: none of the battles got clearer, especially given the unclear status of Joe Colborne.
Let’s go with Raymond. He was trying to create offense and was buzzing around late in the game. He just couldn’t bury anything.
The final game of the pre-season goes Saturday night at the Saddledome as these two teams meet up once again. After that? Expect a flurry of waiver activity on Monday morning as teams prepare to cut down their rosters for opening night.