Justin Schultz had a very solid game against the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday night at Rexall Place. The Oilers defenceman scored a goal, played with a bit of a physical edge and made good plays with the puck.
Perhaps Schultz’s progress on the ice is a clear indication that his work in the off-season is paying off. Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan says Schultz came into camp ahead of where he was last year from a fitness standpoint, but he’s also impressed with the cerebral side of the blueliner’s game.
“From Justin Schultz, in the six days we’ve been on the ice, he’s fit. His numbers are way up from where they were last year. Strong, and that doesn’t mean fit. He’s strong mentally, and confident,” said McLellan. “(He’s) been open, willing to learn and asking questions. He looked like he had good legs last night, and a little bit of a jump in his stride. (He’s) still learning how we want to play and learning some concepts. He’s got a dynamic skill set, that we’re starting to see. A lot of real positive things. He, like the rest of us and the coaching staff and the players, all still have to find our games and polish it up a little bit before the season starts.”
McLellan calls Schultz a “very important piece” of the team and likes his “dynamic offensive skills.” The head coach says he would like for Schultz to improve defensively, but he wants that from all his players. There is another thing Schultz can do more of, and that’s shoot the puck.
“He’s got a great shot,” said McLellan. “He should be shooting that puck a lot, and we expect him too. It will be in his hands a lot in the offensive zone. Shoot it, we’ll get it back.”