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Game Recap: Winnipeg Jets Defenders Blitz the Pittsburgh Penguins

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Winnipeg’s defense, usually a low-light, took a starring role against the Crosby-led Penguins.

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a bit hard to get an accurate read on Winnipeg, but after 4 games, I think we’re looking at the most absurdly exciting .500 team the league has seen in ages. The Jets are nothing but relentless offensive pressure and virtually no defensive awareness. Against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Winnipeg surprisingly potted a flurry of goals from its blueline unit. The defense has been a source of contention since the departure of Trouba and Byfuglien. With many questions to answer, the Jets defensemen didn’t exactly defend, but they did pot 3 goals to humble Pittsburgh in a 4-1 decision.

Three Takeaways

IT’S VILLE HEINGOALA SZN

You all know I adore Heinola, and he’s only continuing to prove my affections correct. He scored his first NHL goal tonight, a nice long-distance slapper assisted by Mark Scheifele. With 3 points in 4 games, Heinola is showcasing some pleasant offensive tools to complement his mature defensive game. I have a hard time seeing the Jets demoting him now, barring a desire to preserve his ELC. If he does depart the club for now, I’ll be sad to see him (temporarily) go.

Laine and Ehlers are Dominating

It’s no secret that Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers have been starting the season off on strong footing. That was remarkably evident tonight, with Ehlers constantly pressuring Pittsburgh in the offensive zone. His interceptions and forced turnovers led to the second goal of the night, a nifty pick-off that allowed Ehlers to completely undress Matt Murray. Nik was hungry for more, and continued to harass the Penguins with every opportunity.

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Laine was also great, notching a trio of assists and playing the role of power forward once again. The growth in Patrik’s game is incredibly positive news, and his next contract will be quite expensive if he keeps this up. I hope Laine continues to dominate and prove his detractors wrong. He’s a potential cornerstone for this team, and his improvement in all facets of the game will only prove beneficial to Winnipeg’s future.

Winnipeg is Kinda Really Good and Kinda Really Terrible

I said earlier in this recap that the Jets are likely the most exciting .500 team you’ll ever see, and I think that accurately sums up this team’s curious mixture. The defense was not particularly great all told, and Connor Hellebuyck had to be extremely sharp against some dangerous Pittsburgh shooters. Winnipeg won’t win these match-ups against better teams, so the offense will need to work overtime to keep the Jets competitive.

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Luckily, Maurice and co. seemed to have recognized that this team cannot bunker. Winnipeg is free-flowing in both ends of the ice, and that’s how they’ll have to play with so few defenders on hand. The Jets have long needed to be unshackled, and this may be the push they need to get it going. With some additional blueline reinforcements arriving down the road, the Jets could get scary quickly.