While Mike Comrie and Patrick O'Sullivan were the two best players on the ice for Edmonton, a couple of youngsters were pretty good as well in a 4-0 pre season win Friday.
It didn't take J.F. Jacques long to steam roll a Panther, then as he stepped out of the box after serving a slashing penalty, he dropped Christian Backman like a rock in a river with a hard shoulder check. Backman was barely on the ice when Jacques looked around to see who would be on his dance card, and sure enough Adam Keefe came strolling in, dropping the mitts for a second time in the period.
The man nicknamed 'Crazy Train' during his days in the QMJHL did fairly well in the scrap that I would call a draw. In the middle frame with Edmonton up 3-0 etched his name on the scoresheet again, this time by putting away a very nice O'Sullivan pass to the slot, he went high in a hurry, one timing the shot to the top left corner. Jacques played pretty well last year down the stretch after returning from a back injury, he scored once and picked up 9 penalty minutes over a 7 game stretch, but more importantly was involved in the play physically. That's the way he was Friday, dishing out more than the 5 hits he was credited with. I really think Jacques can be a difference maker for the Oilers this year, if he continues to throw his weight around. Slot him in with Dustin Penner or Zach Stortini with Gilbert Brule in the middle and you have a very effective energy line that allows Brule to be an excellent agitator. You can here his post game comments, starting with how he got off to a good start in the game by clicking here.
Ryan Stone was pretty noticeable Friday night as well. Stone made a terrific pass to defenceman Taylor Chorney who jumped into the play during the 2nd period. The former UND Fighting Sioux rearguard finished nicely, zipping it top shelf on Tomas Vokoun. Stone picked up a second assist on Patrick O'Sullivan's 2nd period goal as well. The one time Brandon Wheat King was plus 2 in over 17 minutes of ice time, which included 5:07 on the power play. This is the second straight game where Stone looked comfortable on a line with O'Sullivan and Mike Comrie, and while like in Calgary the opponent wasn't exactly full of NHL calibre players, he's making an impact on the coaching staff. To me Ryan Stone could turn out to be an Ethan Moreau type player. They have similar size, Stone 6'2 199 lbs, Moreau 6'2 220 lbs. Stone's best year in junior was his last with Brandon where he notched 99 points and 127 PIM (he broke the 100 plus PIM mark in all 4 years with the Wheat Kings) while Moreau put up similar numbers with Niagra where best campaign was 98 points and 100 PIM. After the game I spoke to Stone about his play so far, as well as Moreau about Stone playing a similar style as the Oilers captain. You can hear those conversations here.
So what did the head coach think tonight? Pat Quinn talks about Taylor Chorney, J.F. Jacques, Ryan Stone and more here.
As for the Panthers, like Calgary did the other night they didn't dress a ton of NHL calibre players. Vokoun, Brian McCabe, Corey Stillman, Steve Reinprecht, Jordan Leopold, Martin Skoula and Michael Frolik were the notable names. A better line up than Calgary, but not by much. I spoke with Frolik, who as a rookie last year scored 45 points in 79 games for the Cats. You can catch the conversation with the 10th overall selection from 2006 by clicking here.
As I mentioned earlier, I think Ryan Stone has Ethan Moreau potential. Does he have Moreau's speed? No, but that can be improved. While we're comparing prospects to current pros, Colin McDonald might have some Fernando Pisani in him. McDonald is learning how to be an effective checking forward, and like Pisani has a very accurate shot so he can chip in somewhat with some offence. Both Stone and McDonald were drafted in 2003, but because he spent 4 full years at Providence College, McDonald is only entering his 3rd year of pro, while Stone is about to start his 5th ...whether it's in Edmonton or Springfield is debatable right now. McDonald will need atleast another year in the AHL, but if they keep developing, the pair could replace Moreau and Pisani as 2/3 of the Oilers checking line in the near future.