Hextall on Hockey: Don’t count out Jets’ role players

Winnipeg Jets' Nikolaj Ehlers (27) scores on Vancouver Canucks' goaltender Jacob Markstrom (25) during second period NHL exhibition game action in Edmonton, on Wednesday, July 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Codie McLachlan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Codie McLachlan

Since the Winnipeg Jets returned to Manitoba, no single win to date has meant more to the direction of the franchise moving forward than the 3-2 victory over the Calgary Flames on Monday.

What we witnessed in Game 2 of the Jets’ Stanley Cup qualifier was more than a team facing adversity and skating to success — it was the passing of the baton to the Jets’ next wave.

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For years, Wheeler, Scheifele, Little, Morrissey, and Hellebuyck have been the cornerstones of the franchise, the driving force that wills the team to victory.
No one is pushing any of these players out the door, as they are all pillars in the Jets success and will be for years to come. But Monday’s victory is a building block for the future of the franchise, as non-headline players earned an experience they will look back on and draw on as their individual careers develop within the franchise.

Jansen Harkins was inserted into the lineup due to injury and scored in his playoff debut.

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Kyle Connor led the team in ice time. Adam Lowry had his first-ever multi-point playoff game. Nik Ehlers — in the 23rd post-season game of his NHL career, scored his first-ever playoff goal that stood as the game-winner.

Andrew Copp was elevated from pinch hitter to first-line centre. Jack Roslovic delivered a pair of assists.

Each player skated away from the game feeling like they were a major contributor to the win. They’re responsible for the success of the team as much as any other player on the ice — including the day-to-day stars.

That feeling, that memory, could push each player to a new level — and perhaps even the next series.

Click to play video: 'Teeing up Flames vs. Jets NHL qualifying series' Teeing up Flames vs. Jets NHL qualifying series
Teeing up Flames vs. Jets NHL qualifying series – Aug 1, 2020

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