Ryan Jones has had three fights in a week for the Oilers, which is three in four games. He fought Brenden Dillon in Dallas on January 14, and Stephane Veilleux in Minnesota on January 16.
Not only has he shown increased confidence and a willingness to stick up for his teammates, but Jones has also shown improvement in his play. He is the only Oilers forward with more than 10 games this season to have a positive +/- and has excelled on the penalty kill.
“I don’t know if this is going to be a growing trend with him, but I think circumstance has come up a couple of times where he’s been put in a position on the ice where he thought he was taken a run at or taken some liberties at him and another time, he thought one of his teammates had been maybe hit a little the wrong way,” said Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins. “I think he’s come a long, long way from training camp.
“I think he struggled in training camp and that happens. We had a couple of guys like that who had missed a lot of games… They get into camp and even though they’re all healed and everything’s good, there’s hesitation and I think that’s where Jonesy was in camp. I think now, he’s got his feet underneath him and we’ve rewarded him with a little bit more ice, with the injuries to (Ales) Hemsky and (Nail Yakupov). He’s done well there. He’s improved on the penalty kill, which we saw last night, our penalty kill was excellent. If that trend continues, I don’t know. I do like the way that he’s playing right now.”
Jones is now fully healed from a serious eye injury he suffered before the start of last season, while he was awaiting the end of the NHL work stoppage. He says he now has the confidence to engage in a fight if it comes time to do so.
“It was all confidence,” Jones said. “With the injury, I wasn’t sure all along how I would react or how the eye would react to getting hit, if it would get hit. You get one under you and you’re kind of like, oh it’s not that bad. Then there’s that little bit of confidence where I can do this and not have to worry about basically, my career being over. You’re less apt to think twice about it. If you think twice about it, you’re not going to do it. As soon as the challenge is there, you react and it’s on.”
According to hockeyfights.com, Jones had tossed the gloves in four NHL fights prior to 2013-2014. He has been in four so far this season.