The Preseason has been played, rosters picked, and fans are ready, it is finally time to start the 2013/2014 NHL season. Though not all details are clear at this point, there are some things we know for sure. On October 1st the NHL season will open and for the first time the Winnipeg Jets find themselves away from home for their first contest. This may be a welcome change for the team from Winnipeg as so far in their existence they are win less on opening night, dropping contests to Montreal and Ottawa. This will be the first time since 2009 that the Oilers will open a season with a home game, and have won their last 3 season openers. You can bet both teams, who are looking to improve off last season will be psyched up and ready to go.
This year will be the same story for the Oilers as it has been the last few. Edmonton is a team overflowing with young talent and it is just a matter of time before they take that next step and become contenders in the Western Conference. Leaning on players like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Nail Yakupov, Ryan Nugent Hopkins, Justin Schultz and others, Oilers fans are hoping this is the year the team begins to reach their potential. Unfortunately the injury bug has bitten early in Edmonton. The Oilers have lost their top two centers already with Ryan Nugent Hopkins out most of the first month, after having off-season shoulder surgery and Sam Ganger who the Oilers have lost indefinitely to a broken jaw suffered in Vancouver last week. How the Oilers respond to having two of their big guns out will go a long way to deciding this teams fate early this season.
It is an important season for the Winnipeg Jets to step up and realize the potential that is seen in them. Management went out and signed much of this teams core to long contracts over the summer and it has many NHL experts scratching their heads wondering why so much money has been promised to players who have not been able to produce a playoff appearance. The team however feels comfortable with their core and after having their first real training camp since moving to Winnipeg feels confident they can make the leap to a perennial playoff team. Though the lineup is not quite set, at least in the publics’ eyes, there is no disputing that this is not the deepest Winnipeg Jets team fans have seen. With what appears to be a wealth of defense men and a much improved bottom 6 forwards, the Jets have options, something that could not always be said over the last couple years. Scoring remains a question and much will fall on the top line of Little, Ladd, Wheeler, as well as Evander Kane and new addition Devin Setoguchi. If the Jets can get secondary scoring it will be a big step towards an improved team.
Pucks on net: Devan Dubnyk is still a question mark in the Oilers goal. Though at times he has shown flashes of brilliance, he still has a tendency to give up bad goals. The Jets should be looking to put the puck towards the net and see what happens all game.
Control the faceoff dot: What has been a weakness for this Winnipeg team may well prove a strength on opening night. With the Oilers missing their top two centers Winnipeg has to take advantage and get puck possesion off the faceoff.
Special teams: Last season Winnipegs powerplay was worst in the league and the penalty kill was 24th. Though the PK appears to be fixed the powerplay remains a sore spot and must improve for the Jets to get wins in the much tighter checking Western Conference.
Ondrej Pavelec (0-0-0) GAA: 0 SV% 0
Devon Dubnyk (0-0-0) GAA: 0 SV% 0
Byfuglien WPG, (Leg) unknown
Nugent-Hopkins EDM, (Shoulder) out
Ganger EDM, (Broken Jaw) out
Jets take advantage of injuries and finally win a season opener
Jets 5 Oilers 3