Jones a plus for Oilers

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:23 AM ET

EDMONTON - Despite his recent success on breakaways, Ryan Jones doesn’t expect to get the call in a shootout for the Edmonton Oilers any time soon.

For the Oilers winger, going in alone in the heat of a game is different that participating in a skills competition.

“The guys joke that I can only score on breakaways when somebody is chasing me,” Jones said. “I don’t think the league is going to let us put someone on my back, so it’s going to be a while until I get there.”

Regardless, Jones seems to be one of the few Oilers experiencing success converting breakaway opportunities.

He buried another one Monday in a 3-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings.

“I didn’t take any breakaway classes over the summer,” Jones said. “I’m just trying to carry as much speed as I can to the net when I get chances and make the goalie react first.”

Whatever he’s doing is working for Jones, who’s building on an impressive first full season with the Oilers by improving on his offensive totals this year.

Jones, 27, has 11 goals so far this season and is on pace to improve on his career-high 18 last year.

The native of Chatham, Ont., is one of the few outside of the top two lines who has provided consistent offence this season.

“He’s got that junkyard-dog mentality and oftentimes, because of his second and third effort, he can be very effective,” said Oilers head coach Tom Renney. “He’s a very good checker, he’s a smart player and a responsible two-way guy. Certainly we need that.”

Plucked off waivers from the Nashville Predators two seasons ago, Jones has been a pleasant surprise for the Oilers.

His versatility gives the clubs options with their line combinations. And it doesn’t seem to matter where Jones plays in the lineup, he’s finding ways to contribute offensively.

“I don’t know what to tell you, I’ve been doing the same things that I’ve done my entire career, the pucks are just going in for me,” he said. “The best teams in the league they always have more than just the first six guys that can score goals and that’s what makes it tough to play against them. All the teams in the league now are trying to match lines. If you can eliminate a team that only has six guys scoring then basically you have them beat. That’s the big thing that we have in this locker room, we think we have four lines in this room that can score.

“We’ve struggled to score goals at times, but it’s just a matter of time the way we’re working before we start scoring and before the wins start piling up.”

A blue-collar player if there ever was one, Jones is also starting to pile up the war wounds. He was sporting a cut above his right cheek after taking a puck in the face and still has a scar on his lip where he was clipped during the Oilers’ recent road trip.

“Gibby (Tom Gilbert) got me right in the face with the puck, it went up in the air and I didn’t think he saw it, but he did and he swatted it out of the air and hit me right in the face,” Jones said. “It’s hockey, it happens to every guy that’s played the game, I’m sure. Look at Smytty (Ryan Smyth), he’s gotten a few and he’s paid the price to score goals, that’s the way it is.”

Jones hopes he can continue his scoring prowess, now fourth in team goals, one behind Smyth. Jones is also looking to help the Oilers snap their currently losing streak and get back with the playoff contenders.

“I’m pretty sure that the feeling is a lot better after these last two games than maybe the previous four or five,” said Jones. “We know that if we’re going to win hockey games, we have to continue to play the way that we did in the last couple of games and try to improve on that.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/SUNdvandiest


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