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No Scheifele, No Laine… No Problem?

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Rogers Place Crop
The Jets are playing a best-of-five series against the Calgary at Rogers Place in Edmonton. Google

The Winnipeg Jets had a disastrous game one of their best-of-five series, losing two of their top players, Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine, while falling to the Calgary Flames 4–1. Losing players of this caliber can have potentially devastating results during the playoffs, especially during this unique, one-of-a-kind qualifying round where there is no room for error.

These Jets, however, constantly find ways to thrive when faced with adversity—and Monday was no different. After the players found themselves penciled onto new lines, they dug deep and found a way to tie the series 1–1 with a hard-fought 3–2 victory over the Flames.

Copp’s Promotion

One of the biggest, and in my opinion most impactful, moves of the night was to promote Andrew Copp to centre on the top line, flanked by Wheeler and Connor on his wings. While Copp’s line was held off the score sheet, they played well defensively and set the tone early with several scoring chances.

This move had a twofold purpose. It was the best option for the short-term, until the team’s undisputed top line centre returns from injury. It also provided the team with a chance to watch Copp play with skilled players and potentially audition for a vacant second-line centre position.

Harkins Impresses

Harkins’ draft profile described him as a blue-collar-type two-way centre, a heads-up player who makes high-percentage plays in all three zones, and a smooth skater who outworks the opposition and is hard to play against.

Those characteristics are translating to his NHL game.

Harkins has been impressive in his limited game action so far. Aside from his brief appearance during the third period of the Jets’ only exhibition game, Harkins hasn’t played meaningful hockey since the first week of March.

This drought appears to have had little to no effect on his game, as Harkins wasted no time contributing, scoring the opening goal on a breakaway midway through the first period.

Ehlers Rebounds

Nikolaj Ehlers also had an eventful game on Monday, starting with a bad giveaway that directly led to a goal against in the first period. He then took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the third period.

Fortunately, Ehlers tipped a Neal Pionk slapshot and found the back of the net, scoring his first career NHL playoff goal in his twenty-third playoff game.

Wheeler called Monday’s win “one win in the long journey,” but it really was a monumental win that kept their season alive. The Jets hit the ice for game three on Tuesday at 5:45 p.m.

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