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This article was published 10/10/2015 (2251 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
NEW YORK — They’ve shown some offensive flashes, just as expected. But both Nikolaj Ehlers and Nic Petan have done some solid work in the defensive game that is winning over their teammates and the coaching staff.
There was Petan’s shot block in the first period of Thursday’s win over Boston.
"That’s good on the bench. That’s the enthusiasm of youth and especially for a real skilled guy... those things, that’s great currency in the room for him," said Jets coach Paul Maurice. "The bench was pretty pleased to see it and the coaches were, too. His game has really been all-round from the start, for a skilled, numbers guy."
And there was Ehlers using his speed to break up scoring chances a night later in Jersey.
"That’s the big single question here about this young man coming into training camp," said Maurice. "It wasn’t where his skill level is at, it was will he be able to pick up the defensive part of the game. He played hard defensively, but there’s a cost to it here. You miss your one assignment and the puck is in the back of your net an awful lot. So, can he play well enough defensively? He’s shown, really from Day 1, that he has a real interest in it. He understands that he needs to do that to play at this level and he’s made some good defensive plays."
And so while their resumes scream out that they will be productive offensively, it’s how quickly they have picked up their defensive responsibilities — coupled with the already-defensively sound Andrew Copp — that has the Jets beaming about their three rookies.
Now comes the next tests: facing two Eastern Conference contenders loaded with offensive skill in the New York Islanders and New York Rangers.
Finding that touch
There’s no stat tracking this, but it could be said no Jet has hit more goal posts over the past couple of years than Mark Scheifele. So to see him score twice already in two games is a positive development for a club that has its fingers-crossed he can continue his transformation into a No. 1 centre.
"We’ve felt over the last couple of years that Mark was a guy that, boy, he hit a lot of posts and he’d almost get it off in time," said Maurice. "You were hoping he’d get that confidence and it seemed to kick in about half way through the year when he started making those shots. He’s getting it off his stick as fast as I’ve ever seen him and that seems to be translating into some breaks."
FYI: The Jets were 2-0 to open the 2013-14 season before dropping four of their next five and won their first contest last year before losing four straight... The Jets have out-scored Boston and New Jersey 9-3 in the first two games of the season, and have a team +/- rating of +30... The Jets ended a 13-game losing streak at TD Garden in Boston on Thursday and improved to 3-0-2 in their past five visits to Prudential Center a night later. Prior to this latest run, they had lost five straight trips to New Jersey dating to Dec. 28, 2009 (0-4-1)... Michael Hutchinson is 24-11-5 in 42 career appearances with 2.29 goals-against average and 91.7 save percentage.