Sunday, 13 September 2015

So Why Send Him At All?

It's funny how things work sometimes. Connor McDavid, the next-next-next-next great forward in Edmonton, travels all the way to Penticton, BC to take part in the rookie tournament with the other kids amassed by the Oilers, and he's told that he'll be a healthy scratch in both today's game against Calgary and against Winnipeg on Monday by Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli. One of the few reasons why people come to watch the Oilers will no longer be a factor in this tournament. Nice move, Chiarelli.

"Relatively early on I made that decision," Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli told reporters after Edmonton's practice Sunday. "He's going to play a lot of hockey, and it gives us a chance to see some of the other players in these two games. He wasn't very happy, but I said 'hey, you're going to play a lot of hockey for us.'"

I guess that means we won't be seeing McDavid in a Bakersfield Condors uniform any time this season either. Regardless of what Chiarelli decided "early on", the fact that the NHL and, in turn, the four teams participating are charging fans in and around Penticton to see a player not named McDavid is a little bit criminal. Everyone wants to see this kid play, and Chiarelli shelved him after one game. Not cool, Oilers. Not even close to cool.

For those that have the means, the next chance you'll have to see McDavid in Oilers' colours is in Edmonton when the Oilers rookies take on the CIS' Alberta Golden Bears in a game at Rexall Place on Wednesday. Due to ticket demand, the game was moved away from the 2700-seat Clare Drake Arena to the larger Rexall Place. Looks like the Oilers and Golden Bears are going to share a nice profit on that game as well. If it means anything, the Bears are 13-11 in games against the Oilers all-time, so you know who I'm pulling for in Wednesday's affair!

In other news from the tournament, there seems to be something wrong in Jets Nation. Sure, they dropped their second game in a row while only scoring a single goal again, but the amount of shots the netminders are seeing is getting a little ridiculous. 36 shots in the opening game against the Flames, and the Canucks tacked on another 42 shots tonight as Connor Hellebuyck saw the full sixty-minute attack from the Canucks. If we're relying on Corsi and Fenwick to determine the play of these young Jets, we're currently searching for a diamond in the very rough stats.

"The way the third period went I think was a direct result of fatigue," McCambridge said of being outshot 17-4 and outscored 3-0 in the final frame. "There was a stretch in the second period where there was a minute and 45 of not being able to get out. That wears guys down. And when you're chasing and coming from behind all the time, there's a tendency as you move along in the game to cheat a little bit more and eventually it comes back to cost you."

So is this a conditioning problem? Why are the other teams not as winded as the Jets and why can the Jets not recover in time to pick themselves back up off the mat after being pinned in their own zone for an extended period? No one is suggesting the efforts through the opening frame and part of the second period weren't up to the task, but you have to wonder when the coach suggests that guys are worn out already just a game and a half into a preseason tilt. This might be something to keep an eye on this season with the Jets' rookies who make the opening night roster.

Hellebuyck, for his part, made 38 saves in the loss, and admittedly needs more work to get himself 100% ready. "I feel good," Hellebuyck told reporters. "I don’t feel that I'm 100 percent ready, but I feel like I'm going to get there within a couple practices. That's what preseason's for and you've always got to shake out a little bit of rust."

So far, the Jets have two goals in two games from Brendan Lemieux and Josh Morrissey. Clearly, some of the bigger names - Ehlers, Petan, Kosmachuk, Copp, Lodge, De Leo - are missing from the scoresheet on the goal-scoring side. These young guns need to step up in the game against the Oilers on Monday to make things more interesting with training scheduled to start later this week in Winnipeg, so they had better show up and school the McDavid-less Oilers.

Otherwise, they'll be wearing Jets colours with a Moose logo on their chests for a while.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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