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Like a comfy old sweater or a favourite pair of shoes, there’s something about the TLC line that has become such a good fit for the Winnipeg Jets.
When the going got tough Wednesday night against the Washington Capitals, Jets head coach Paul Maurice reunited the trio of Brandon Tanev, Adam Lowry and Andrew Copp. In addition to shutting down the Capitals’ potent top line, they contributed to the game-winning goal in the third period.
No surprise, then, that the band will remain together when the Jets (11-5-1) close out a four-game homestand tonight by welcoming the surging Buffalo Sabres (10-6-2) to Bell MTS Place.
“It’s kind of what we’re supposed to do. We’re supposed to play in the other team’s end, make their best players defend and kind of wear them down a little bit. I feel like we were successful in doing that,” Copp said Thursday.
Patrik Laine had been playing with Lowry and Tanev for the last several games, while Copp had moved off the wing to centre the fourth-line with Jack Roslovic and Nic Petan. But Maurice got the line blender out after a lacklustre first period in which the Jets trailed 1-0. TLC was back together, Laine played with Bryan Little and Kyle Connor, and Mathieu Perreault played with Petan and Roslovic.
Maurice said he plans to keep the lines intact, at least for now.
“It’s easier for those three (Tanev-Lowry-Copp) to play together, possibly than any other line combination that we have. They can read off each other very, very well. And it gives us just a different style of checking,” said Maurice.
Tanev fed defenceman Ben Chiarot for the winning goal Wednesday following some tenacious forechecking. The trio had numerous other chances to convert, often tilting the ice in their favour when they were out against Alexander Ovechkin and company.
“I thought we played well, we played in their end a lot. Didn’t give up too much defensively. I felt like we were kind of able to change the game a little bit,” said Copp.
They’ll face another tough test as Buffalo’s No. 1 line of Jeff Skinner, Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart have been taking the NHL by storm recently, leading the Sabres to three straight wins.
Backup goalie Laurent Brossoit (3-0-0) will make his fourth start for the Jets. It will be his first action in three weeks, as Connor Hellebuyck has made six straight starts.
“Of course you want to get in as much as possible but with our trip to Finland and our schedule and how it’s kind of laid out for us, I knew I wasn’t going to get a lot of action in this time frame,” said Brossoit.
Winnipeg’s schedule really gets busy next week as they hit the road for four games in six nights. Brossoit will likely get in one of those games as well.
The Jets are currently second in the NHL with a 2.53 goals-against average — a product of what Brossoit said is attention to detail from his teammates.
“It’s fun to watch, to be honest. Watching a D core like this, they’re so consistent and so structured and at the same time they provide offence and some unpredictability with guys like (Dustin Byfuglien). It’s nice, it gives you that extra vote of confidence that you’re not going to be expected to make 100 grade A stops because they’re so strong and they’re just a good D core,” said Brossoit.
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.