SUN Hockey Pool

Jones taking game to next level

Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader fights with Oilers forward Ryan Jones at Joe Louis Arena in...

Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader fights with Oilers forward Ryan Jones at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Mich., Feb. 8, 2012. (REBECCA COOK/Reuters)

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:18 PM ET

OTTAWA - Ryan Jones is one of the most cordial players in the Edmonton Oilers locker-room.

His honest approach and ardent work ethic make him a fan favourite.

And on Wednesday, the Oilers winger showcased a tougher side, as he took on Detroit Red Wings winger Justin Abdelkader in a fight.

Abdelkader challenged Jones after he had belted Red Wings defenceman Ian White at centre ice.

“I just thought he was coming after me after the hit, so I wasn’t waiting,” Jones said following the contest. “I had a couple of fights last year, they’re few and far between, but I think I can handle myself.”

Jones did more than just handle himself, scoring the take down after landing a number of shots which would have registered as points in an Olympic boxing match.

Even after he had practically picked up Abdelkader and slammed him to the ice, Jones landed one more for good measure.

“In that situation, I’m just throwing punches in his general direction,” he said. “Other than that, I’m just trying to stay in there and give our team some energy.”

Unfortunately for the Oilers they were unable to build any momentum off the fight and succumbed to the Red Wings 4-2, in what Oilers head coach Tom Renney considered a lack-lustre effort.

The Oilers coach was upset more of his players didn’t share Jones’s resolve and hopes they can find it collectively Saturday against the Ottawa Senators.

“You have to play hard and battle and sometimes the result in that is a confrontation that tests you in other ways,” said Renney. “You have to stand up for yourself and not just through Jonesy, but as a team, we have to get equated with that as a team and understand that every game is a battle. Teams are going to look at us and not just going to hand us two points, they’re going to go get them. We have to make sure we understand that first and foremost and we have to get after that, too.”

Jones has been trying to chip in any way he can, especially since his early season scoring prowess has gone dry.

The Chatham, Ont., native has 12 goals on the year, but has not scored in his last 19 games.

“I lost some confidence a couple of weeks ago and I felt like I couldn’t even stick-handle the puck,” he said. “It’s just a matter of battling out of that. I feel like there are some other things I can do other than score to help the team. It’s just a matter of putting pressure on for a few games.

“(Eric) Belanger and I have been playing against the top lines and I thought we were playing well. I just like to think wherever Tom throws me, I’m just going to go out there and play as hard as I can.”

The only way Jones knows how to play the game is all out, and it seems only a matter of time before he collects another trademark, greasy goal.

He did pick up an assist on Sam Gagner’s marker in the second period, sending the puck up to the red-hot forward while the rest of the Red Wings were preoccupied with trying to extract their pound of flesh from Ben Eager along the boards.

“The funny thing about that play was that I was coming over to it,” Jones said. “Then I saw (Jeff) Petry grab the puck and thought I might as well be an option for him. He passed it off to me and then I saw Gags come off the bench and I fired it up to him. I figured if they didn’t blow the whistle, at least, he was going in for a breakaway. He’s hot right now and he put the puck into the net.”

As for Jones, he’s looking to continue contributing in other ways until he can work out of his current slump.

“That’s important for the team, it’s important to myself,” he said. “If you’re a one-dimensional player and if that’s not working for you, then you’re really no use to the team. I’m just trying to plug away and create energy when I can.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

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