Some National Hockey League Preseason Thoughts

A couple Saturday night National Hockey League games – 

This past weekend, I watched a couple of  National Hockey League preseason games.  The first one was between the Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators. I was interested to see if Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian were playing. Bogosian was injured but Kane was playing.  Kane was on a line with Tyler Ennis and rookie center Jack Eichel.  The line definitely had some chemistry as they accounted for most of Buffalo’s scoring.  Ennis had three goals while Eichel had two assists and Evander scored a goal as well.  Kane has three goals so far in two exhibition games.

It was an entertaining game with Buffalo winning 5-4.  Kane’s style of play has not changed since he played for the Jets.  He gives defencemen fits with his physical play.  He’s a human wrecking ball for the most part.  It will be interesting to see how well he does with this revamped Buffalo team and if he can avoid injury due to his style of play.

It was the first time I have seen Jack Eichel play against National Hockey League players and he looked very good.  He was playing against a veteran Ottawa squad and at times was a dominating player.  What impressed me was how well he skates and how smart he is with the puck.  He set up Ennis with one of his goals with a picture perfect pass.  He has the size and speed to be able to be successful in the National Hockey League.  To me, he looked every bit as good as Evander Kane who has played in the National Hockey League for roughly five years.

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Buffalo will be an interesting team to watch this season with a number of young players who hopefully will make the Sabres more competitive.  One young player I will be following is Sam Reinhart to see how much of an impact he makes this season.

The next game I watched was the game between the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues.  This was not a preseason game in my opinion as it seemed to me it was like a regular season game.  Both teams seem to be set for the season with their regular lineups.  St. Louis gave it all they had but Chicago has so much firepower that they put it away in the third period with none other than Patrick Kane scoring on a breakaway to put the game out of reach.  Duncan Keith scored a late power play goal to win it by a score of 3-1.  Ironically, St. Louis scored on the three on three overtime.

The champs look good

Chicago looks very good.  Bad news for the rest of Central Division teams in my opinion.  They play with so much confidence it’s scary.  They have their core group of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Marian Hossa, and goaltender Corey Crawford all signed to long-term contracts.  You just have to have a half decent supporting cast in place to plug the holes and they do.  I must say Stan Bowman has done a masterful job dealing with the salary cap problems his team faced after winning the Stanley Cup. He made timely trades and let other players go and it hasn’t seemed to weaken his team at all. We will see if  some team can knock them off this season.  Maybe our Jets will be the giant killers.  We can only hope.

Jake the snake

A number of prospects have impressed me this preseason.  Jake Virtanen, from the Vancouver Canucks, is one player who I like.  It will be difficult for him to crack the Canuck’s lineup but he should be a good player for them in the future. He’s a very physical player with skill.  He’s not afraid to hit anybody including a player who found out first hand in the Young Stars Classic named Connor McDavid.

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Darnel Nurse, an Edmonton Oilers defensive prospect, is another player who impresses me.  He’s big, physical, plays with an edge and he can skate and create offense.  I must say I wish the Winnipeg Jets had him but you can’t have everything.  Even though he is young, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he made the team this year.

McDavid MIA?

Unfortunately, we haven’t seen Connor McDavid play much this preseason.  It’s frustrating for me as it must be for paying fans expecting to see him on the ice but more often than not he’s not playing.  I guess Peter Chiarelli is the guy we have to ask why isn’t he playing in more games.

Jets Prospects?

After the Jets lost to the Minnesota Wild by a score of 8-1, most of the prospects have realized just how much of a leap it is to jump from junior hockey to the National Hockey League. Speaking about the Jet’s prospects, I think Andrew Copp will make the team as the 4th line center.  He’s got good size, can skate, and what I like is he’s always around the net looking for goals.  One surprise to me was Brendan Lemieux being sent back to junior after a short camp.  IMO, he is a player that eventually will be an important part of the Jets in the future.  Whether Nikolaj Ehlers and/or Nic Petan can make the team is anyone’s guess.  The most improved player I saw was Brendan Kichton.  Time spent plying his trade in the AHL has definitely helped.  It will be tough for him to crack the lineup as the Jets have so many defencemen ahead of him on the depth chart but for me he has improved a great deal compared to last year at training camp.


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