By Scott Taylor
Photo by James Carey Lauder
The line of Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers were way too much for the Calgary Flames on Sunday night. At least, they were way too much for a Flames team that looked a lot more like the Stockton Heat.
Playing in front of an enthusiastic crowd at BellMTS Place on Sunday, Wheeler had the winning goal and an assist, Scheifele had a pair of assists and Ehlers scored an empty netter as the Jets beat the Flames/Heat 4-1 to improve to 2-1-1 after four pre-season games.
To be fair, the Jets dressed eight or nine players who won't play in Winnipeg this season. Other than the first two lines, the goaltender (Laurent Brossoit) and one or maybe two defensemen, the team wearing the blue uniforms were more Moose than Jet.
But that's how the pre-season works. These "games" are simply a series of full-uniform practices in the downtown arena for $180 a ticket.
Still, the Jets/Moose/Finnish National Team (with Ville Heinola, Joona Luoto and Kristian Veselainen in the lineup) did look pretty good.
Jack Roslovic opened the scoring from D-man Tucker Poolman and veteran centre Bryan Little at the 50-second mark of the first period and that 1-0 lead stood until Adam Ruzicka scored for Calgary at the six minute mark of the third period.
Of course, that just woke up a Jets team that seemed to be happy leading 1-0.
Less than four minutes later, Wheeler picked up some loose garbage in front of the Flames net and beat Calgary goaltender Cam Talbot to make 2-1 Jets. Scheifele and Anthony Bitetto drew the assists at 9:43.
Rookie Joona Luoto tipped home a shot from Logan Stanley at 10:55. Seth Griffith, who played a really nice game, drew the second assist.
Then, at 18:24, Ehlers fired a wrister from just inside the Calgary blueline into the empty net as Wheeler and Scheifele picked up the assists. That made it 4-1 and the boys just went for a leisurely skate until the buzzer sounded.
The Jets outshot Calgary 29-23. Calgary outhit Winnipeg 18-17 and the Flames won 51 per cent of the face-offs. However, Brossoit was solid in the Jets goal and with 22 saves, was named the game's first star. Luoto was the second star while rookie defensemen Ville Heinola was third. Little did the three-star selector realize that the Jets probably would have been whipped without Ehlers, Wheeler and Scheifele, but hey, it's pre-season.
The Jets play again Tuesday night in Calgary and then return for their last home pre-season game on Thursday night against Edmonton. Perhaps a team that resembles the Jets might be uniform for what will be the second-to-last pre-season game of 2019.