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This article was published 3/3/2020 (233 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Kyle Connor is heating up at the perfect time.
The Winnipeg Jets are in the thick of the playoff race and luckily for them, Connor is taking his game to the next level.
With a pair of goals and an assist in Tuesday night’s 3-1 victory at home over the Buffalo Sabres, the 23-year-old Michigan native has now found the back of the net five times in four games. It’s the first time in Connor’s four-year NHL career that he’s had a four-game scoring streak in the same season.
Jets captain Blake Wheeler said he’s not surprised one bit at Connor’s production.
"I mean the kid’s scored 30 in the league every year so far. I don’t know how much blossoming he needs. We talked about it the other day and he had something like 70 something points and I don’t know how many goals in college hockey. Those are freak show numbers. I played college hockey and it’s not easy to go out there and get two points a game almost in that league," said Wheeler, who registered two assists in Tuesday’s win.
"I think offensively you saw that Kyle was a really gifted player around the net. What’s transformed him into one of the more elite players in the league is his compete in and out of every shift. There aren’t any lulls in Kyle’s game anymore. I think when he got sent down that first year, he had to learn that real quick. In this league, if you want to get around that net and get those opportunities, it’s going to take a certain pace. He’s gotten to that pace. He’s one of our hardest working guys day in and day out. That’s why he’s so consistent and that’s why he’s creating so much offence."
Connor’s two-goal night puts him in a tie with Buffalo’s Jack Eichel for the sixth-most goals in the league at 35. Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak sits at the top of the scoring list with 47 tallies. Connor has also now reached a career-high as his previous best was last season with 34 goals to sit 25th in scoring.
Clearly, Connor has found success playing on the top line with both Mark Scheifele and Wheeler. Jets head coach Paul Maurice put the three together midway through last Tuesday’s 4-3 shootout loss on the road against the Washington Capitals. The trio has played together ever since. Wheeler is riding a three-game assist streak and Scheifele has two goals and two assists since the loss to the Capitals.
Playing with a dynamic duo such as Scheifele and Wheeler surely doesn’t hurt, but Connor has quickly evolved into one of the league’s top scoring threats.
"To compete, I think that’s been the foundation for me as a player throughout my entire career and growing up," Connor, who also has 35 assists, said.
"I’ve always stressed that wherever I’ve played. I think it’s just more of a consistency factor where I realized it’s a grind the NHL game. It’s an 82-game season plus playoffs. The best players bring it every single night and that’s what makes good players great."
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.
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