4 things we learned in the NHL: Jets vying for crown as Canada’s best

Winnipeg Jets' Mathieu Perreault finishes off a nice passing play to give his team a 2-1 lead over Jacob Markstrom and the Vancouver Canucks.

It was the Cole Harbour Bowl in Pittsburgh, an offensive outburst in Winnipeg, and a night of nail-biting battles.

Here are a few things we learned in the NHL on Monday night.

Jets quietly vying for the crown of Canada’s best

While everyone’s been chatting about a certain Canadian club who should be scoring at will but isn’t, the Winnipeg Jets have been quietly rolling through the league on the back of their offensive dominance.

The Jets entered Monday night’s tilt against the Vancouver Canucks with the fourth-best offence in the league, rolling along at a steady clip of 3.36 goals per game. They upped that average just a little bit against their fellow Canadian squad, putting up a five-spot on Vancouver to take the win.

The fact that Winnipeg managed to score in bunches against a team allowing the sixth-most goals per game among all NHL clubs isn’t the impressive feat here. It’s how they did it.

On a night that saw the Jets put five goals on the board, the low-key contender saw two of their top three offensive talents—Blake Wheeler and Patrik Laine—held off the board. In fact, Wheeler, Laine, and Brandon Tanev were the only ones left with goose eggs on Monday, as the rest of Winnipeg’s 12 forwards all registered at least one point in the win.

With their depth shining, the Jets now sit with the third-best record in the Western Conference and, with 41 points to their name, tied with the Toronto Maple Leafs for the crown of Canada’s best.

Brock Boeser Monster going for history in Vancouver

Even in a thrashing like the one Vancouver endured on Monday, rookie sensation Brock Boeser continues to do work.

The 20-year-old tallied Vancouver’s only goal in their 5-1 loss, and in doing so moved himself a little bit higher up the league’s goal-scoring ladder. With 16 on the season, he now sits tied for sixth among all NHL skaters, still besting league elites like Sidney Crosby, Vladimir Tarasenko, Tyler Seguin, and on and on.

To put Boeser’s performance thus far into context, consider this: adding in the four goals he scored during 2016-17’s nine-game debut, the young American has now hit 20 career goals in just 37 career tilts.

His 16 through 28 games this season already rank as the most any rookie in Canucks history has scored in a similar span.

The most goals ever tallied by a Vancouver rookie? Pavel Bure. 1991-92. 34 snipes.

Boeser’s on pace for over 40.

Islanders housing one of the league’s most potent scoring duos

Between the once-unstoppable duo in Tampa Bay, seemingly everyone in St. Louis scoring in bunches, and a couple potent duos ripping it up in Winnipeg and Calgary, it’s easy for the New York Islanders‘ best to get lost in the shuffle.

But the club’s own star duo, John Tavares and Josh Bailey, proved once again why they’re among the best in the game on Monday, combining for this slick area pass score during the Isles’ 3-1 shellacking of the Washington Capitals.

Tavares putting up numbers is nothing new, but the captain’s dazzling chemistry with Bailey has been a game-changer for New York. Bailey’s certainly doing his part, sitting tied with Tarasenko, Alex Ovechkin and Nathan MacKinnon for the 12th-most points in the league at 33 (one more than Tavares).

With Bailey feeding him prime dishes (and amassing the fourth-most assists among all NHLers), Tavares is off to a career-best start in the goals department. Through this many games last season, the Mississauga, Ont. native had just nine goals to his name.

He’s sitting at double that total right now, and on pace for a 50-goal effort for the first time in his career.

Penguins getting a glimpse of their next breakout young gun?

Over the past two seasons, the hockey world has become accustomed to seeing a handful of givens: Connor McDavid skating circles around the rest of the league, Erik Karlsson piling up points like a winger in the 80’s, and the Pittsburgh Penguins watching a seemingly random rookie emerge as a dominant scorer down the stretch.

In 2015-16, it was Conor Sheary, who climbed up from the AHL to become a mainstay on the Penguins’ top line. Last season, it was Jake Guentzel‘s turn, as the minor league alum snagged a roster spot and wound up leading Pittsburgh in goals as they claimed their second straight Cup.

Who takes that oddly specific throne this season?

No one has looked the part just yet, but the Penguins faithful got a look at one hopeful on Monday night when Dominik Simon get a fair few tryout shifts alongside captain Crosby.

After registering two points in his season debut against the Leafs on Saturday—including an assist on Crosby’s late tally—the 5-foot-11, 176-pound Simon looked right at home during his top-line shifts on Monday. The AHL standout managed to flash a few dazzling exchanges with No. 87, nearly resulting in a gorgeous game-breaker early in the third period.

It’s very early, and it’ll take a few more spins on the top line before we know what Simon truly looks like at the NHL level, but if Monday night was any indication, Pittsburgh might just have another fresh-legged game-changer on their hands.

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