Oilers Takeaways: Defensive pairings starting to take shape

Morgan Geekie scored a shorthanded goal, and Martin Jones made 13 saves to lift the Seattle Kraken over the Edmonton Oilers 3-0.

Win 4-0 at home, lose 3-0 on the road. So goes the NHL’s pre-season, as an out-manned Edmonton Oilers roster lost a game in Seattle on Monday night.

Edmonton had a five-minute power play sandwiched around the second intermission but it was clumsy. The only goal scored was a shorty by Seattle.

“That wasn’t our power play,” chuckled veteran Devin Shore. “When the real games start, we’ve got other guys who will bump those numbers up. There are a couple of things we’d like to execute a little better, but we’ll get the big boys out when it matters.”

Two minor penalties marked Mattias Janmark’s pre-season debut, while Jake Virtanen went pointless with one shot on goal for the second straight game, as his PTO with the Oilers winds down what looks to be a fruitless road. He missed the net on an excellent chance Monday, after having trouble finding his range with four shots that never found the net on Sunday.

Goaltenders Ryan Fanti and Olivier Rodrigue split the game, and Fanti faced by far the tougher half of hockey, allowing two goals to Rodrigue’s one.

Expect a more veteran Oilers lineup for their third of eight pre-season games Wednesday night in Calgary.

It looks like head coach Jay Woodcroft favours right-handed Tyson Barrie as a veteran partner to play alongside the left-shot rookie Philip Broberg.

Woodcroft also said he sees Darnell Nurse playing with Cody Ceci, as they did last season, which leaves the middle pair of Brett Kulak and Evan Bouchard.

Of course, Broberg has to make the team first, and Markus Niemelainen may have something to say about that. He had another strong night defensively Monday.

“I’m looking forward to playing with him,” Barrie said of Broberg. “You’re gonna see him develop and grow a lot here. We’ve only been practising together really. It’s hard to get a full read until you get into a game.”

Barrie and Broberg were each minus-1 Monday and led the Oilers in ice time with 24:28 and 22:18, respectively.

They say a veteran has to know when to impart his wisdom when bringing a rookie along, and when to keep his mouth shut. When Barrie was a kid in Colorado, he had senior teammates like Jan Hejda, Greg Zanon and Ryan O’Byrne who took him under their wings.

“I looked back when I was young, I had guys that I played with who helped me develop,” he said. “Whether the coach is hard on him, and you’re (saying), ‘Hey, don’t worry about it. Just keep playing.’ Or you’re the guy that’s got to say, ‘Hey, let’s get going here. We need more out of you.’ There’s a role to be had there as an older guy.”

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Reid Schaefer was likely asked to pack heavy for the trip to Seattle. It’s expected the Oilers will leave him there to join his junior club — the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds — after he played his second pre-season game Monday.

Schaefer was expecting his junior team in the stands for a game that saw him get 14:26 of ice time.

“I think they’re planning on coming down and watching, so that would be pretty cool,” he smiled. “My billet family will be down too, so it’ll be a special night for sure.”

Schaefer has made the commensurate impression here at his first pro camp that a first-rounder should make. He hasn’t just been a passenger — he’s been noticeable in each game, and looks very much like someone who will be an NHL player one day.

What is the biggest step up from junior?

“Just the pace of play has been a big difference,” the 19-year-old said. “Obviously, the rookie tournament was a step up, and now with the big boys, it’s even a bigger step to keep up with them. It’s an interesting adjustment for sure. But I’m having fun and it’s exciting.”

Being at an NHL camp is awesome. But trading pucks with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl? That’s priceless.

“Yeah, I’ve talked to them a bit. Obviously, fanboying a little bit,” he laughed. “You watch them when you’re growing up, you watch them when you’re in junior, so it’s pretty special to be on the same ice and in the same vicinity as them. I’m just soaking it all in.”

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