Spent last night re-watching the London Knights play the Portland Winterhawks and thought I'd share a couple of notes I made about the game/Mr. Seth Jones. Please note that everything I'm about to say is my opinion, and my opinion only based on watching this ONE game. I also must admit to having WAY too high of expectations for Mr. Seth Jones...
First, for no reason whatsoever, I thought that Jones would be on the Winterhawks 1st defensive pairing... nope. He played on the 2nd pairing with line-mate Tyler Wotherspoon. Tyler, a Calgary Flamers 2nd round draft pick, seemed to be the more active member of this defensive pairing. Where Wotherspoon would join the offense, Jones would, for the most part, hang back. It got to the point where I was always looking for him between the Knights blue line and center ice. This is not to say that Seth never joined the rush or jumped into the play, he just spent the bulk of his ice time playing defensive defensemen.
1st pair - #51 Pouliot (1st round, 8th overall) / #2 Ruthowski (5th round, 137th overall)
2nd pair - #3 Jones (2013 draft eligible) / #26 Wotherspoon (2nd round, 57th overall)
3rd pair - #4 Hanson (Undrafted) / #6 Macpherson (Undrafted)
From what I could tell, the penalty kill and the power play (a power play is when you have a one-man advantage, which gives a higher chance of scoring a goal) pairings were the same as their standard setup. Pouliot and Ruthowski manning the 1st PP/PK units, Jones and Wotherspoon taking the 2nd PP/PK time. Jones and Wotherspoon seemed to work well together, but not nearly as well as Pouliot and Ruthowski. While the coach for the Winterhawks didn't fear putting Jones/Wotherspoon out for important/defensive zone draws, he sure leaned on his 1st pair. I couldn't find TOI stats for this game, but I'd venture a guess that the Hawks #1 pair were out there considerably longer then anyone else.
So, back to the game! The first period was all about the two teams feeling each other out. Total defensive type game. The Knights were clogging up the center of the ice and really frustrating the Hawks. The Hawks kept trying to dump the puck into the Knights zone, but they were TERRIBLE about winning the race to the puck. During all of this, I kept my eyes out for Seth. I really only cared about what he was doing as there was not another Avs prospects (we didn't sign Ruthowski and now he's Ottawa property) or possible #1 draft pick in the game.
I'll say Seth looked good. I never really saw him look frustrated/worried/lost. He just always seemed be in the way of the other team. In fact, I was talking with my wife about Jones and described his style of defense as, "always in the g@ddamn way." I never saw him lay into anyone.. no big hits... no knocking a guy down in front of the net... not even a roughing someone up after the whistle... just solid positional hockey.
I guess I was expecting more. I've built up this guy in my head to be a savior for our defense. A Von Miller of defensive hockey, and I think it soured me to Seth in the 1st period. I wanted Seth Jones, God of Lightning and Protector of the Realm of Our Defensive Zone!!! A god, he is not. In fact, I found it kinda funny that Seth ran into a team-mate... twice. I hope vision tests are included in the upcoming combine...
First period ended 0-0. Shots were 14-9 London. To me, the Knights were the better team, but not by much. The second period was much different... it was... fun. Both teams came out looking to score (booze and one liners all around). Seth seemed MUCH more comfortable jumping into the play, and I enjoyed getting to see the offensive side of his game. Something else I noticed, Wotherspoon, and Jones would occasionally switch sides. Most of the time, Jones was on the left side of the ice, but whether by design or necessity, they would switch, and Jones was on the right side. The games first goal went to the Knights with the Winterhawks down a man on a "check from behind" penalty on Brendan Leipsic. Seth was on the ice for the goal and, for the first time in the game, looked a tad bit....off. Not terrible, just... I don't know... The video is below; take a look for yourself. A little over 2 minutes later, the Winterhawks evened the score off of a Wotherspoon shot from the point (assist to Jones).
Portland stepped on the gas in the 2nd, out-shooting London 17-9. Seth continued his "in the f@cking way" style of defense... pulled a couple of examples of it and posted them below. Sorry for the quality.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to pay as much attention in the 3rd as I would have liked (my 10 month old demanded attention). I did catch Ty Rattie's game winning goal... and for the record.. I fucking HATE Ty Rattie. I'm sure he's a great player, but the way the announcers were talking about him, he was a Jesus/Gretzky clone. MAN I got tired of listening to them go on and on and on and on and on about him...
The score sheet shows Jones was on the ice for this goal giving him a +2 for the game. I don't think that's accurate. At best, he was a +1. He was on the ice for the goal against, he received an assist on the 1st Hawk goal, and I'm pretty sure the Ruthowski/Pouliot pairing was on the ice for the 2nd goal... so, even if I couldn't see Invisible Jones (maybe that's why he's rated #1), and he WAS on the ice for the 2nd goal... that's a +1.
Jones and his defensive sidekick were out for the last 1:04 of the game... though to be fair, I doubt the coach thought that they'd spend the entire 64 seconds in their zone but the Knights pulled their goalie and went all out attack.
Overall, I liked what I saw from Seth Jones. If you wash away my crazy expectations of him, he played a solid game. With the exceptions of him running into team mates and his occasional Darcy Tucker skating, it was fun watching him. I plan on watching tomorrows game against the Mooseheads to get a look at the "other two."
I had about 20 other video clips I wanted to pull, but it was taking way too long, and I was doing it wrong (notice the poor quality of the above videos). Also, this was an extremely time consuming process, and it made me appreciate the MHH writers who recap the 82 games a season with amazing speed and thoroughness. Screw the wings.
EDIT: Received this tweet... which I did not know...