You probably came here thinking I was going to recap tonight’s pre-season game between the Senators and the Jets. I regret to say that won’t be the case. There was a game, and it wasn’t pretty, but the Jets won 4-2. Woot woot, power-play goals galore! What this post will be, however, is a Nikolaj Ehlers and Kyle Connor appreciation thread, because hot diggity are those kids good!
Nikolaj Ehlers: The Great Dane
I can’t praise Ehlers enough. Tonight, he was once again the dominant winger the Jets drafted him to be. On a beautiful backdoor pass to Mark Scheifele, Ehlers notched his first point of the night. Getting an assist, however, just wasn’t enough. The guy was flying all around the ice, drawing penalties left and right as the half-cocked Sens line-up attempted to contain him. Notice I said “attempted to contain.”
The assist was eventually followed up by an empty-net goal that was awarded after Ehlers was hauled down on a breakaway. Nikolaj’s speed wreaked havoc in Ottawa’s defensive zone, leading to numerous scoring chances and crisp offensive zone pressure throughout most of the game. Sure, he “only” scored an empty-netter, but his strong puck-play and possession-driving zone transitions only served to reinforce why he’s playing alongside Scheifele and Wheeler.
How is he going to be the third-best winger on the team in a few years? Winnipeg has such an embarrassment of riches on the left side, it’s legitimately unfair. For a team that’s finished in the middle of the pack for most of its tenure, the Jets sure are loaded at forward. Now would be the ideal time to trade Myers and lock-up Trouba…
Kyle Connor: All-American Hero
Boston passed up on this up-and-coming rookie phenom for reasons unbeknownst to sane and rational people. Kyle Connor is increasingly looking like a bonafide offensive stud. For what it’s worth, pre-season hockey is usually complete drivel. The Sens only served to reinforce this notion by icing a roster of bottom-6 forwards and defenseman, but Connor has continually carved up the opposition since his college and junior days.
Tonight, he had himself a glorious short-side snipe that pinged off the back of Andrew Hammond’s mask and into the net. It was Connor’s third goal of the pre-season and yet another reminder that he needs to be in the regular season line-up. Paired with someone like Perreault or Little, Connor has the potential to torch opposing netminders with his solid edge-work, gifted release, and smart shot selection.
Connor’s looked most at home on Winnipeg’s improved power-play, which should be enough to open a roster spot for him. I know Laine was the hyped prospect (and still is), but Kyle’s excellence and talent shouldn’t be overlooked. He’s earned a permanent spot on this team, and barring anything significant, should make the cut.
The Goats: Definitely Not The Greatest of All Time
Brian Strait: ……yeah. I really don’t need to say more. He’s bad.
Kevin Czuczman: I’m not seeing much in the way of impressive performances from Kevin. He looks like an AHL defender, which is fine because the Moose could definitely use him. The sample size is small, but it’d probably be best if he gets a minor league demotion for the time being.
Ben Chiarot: Yikes, yikes, and even more yikes. Chiapet did not have a good performance tonight and was bailed out a number of times by his teammates. The one time he wasn’t led to a goal against. The Jets really need some left-handed help, sooner rather than later. Hopefully, Morrissey makes the cut.