In the last couple of months, the Winnipeg Jets have become one of the best teams in the Scotia North Division, where they are second behind the Toronto Maple Leafs. All four of the Jets’ lines are rolling and you could argue that they have one of the best forward groups in the league.
The Checking Line
One of the most exciting lines to watch right now is the Jets’ 3rd line of Andrew Copp, Adam Lowry, and Mason Appleton, who have played consistently well. Lowry is big at 6-foot-5, 209 lbs, and having his solid frame at center can help create chances down low. Appleton is a speedy winger who spent a couple of seasons in the AHL with the Manitoba Moose, where he scored 66 points in 76 games in his first season and won the AHL Rookie of the Year award. He is now coming in his 3rd year as a Jet and has secured a solid position on the roster. Meanwhile, Copp is simply having the best season of his career.
It’s fair to say that Copp is one of the most improved players on the Jets’ roster this season. In his sixth season with the Jets, he has put up tremendous numbers this season compared to previous years. He has now tied his career-high of 11 goals set in 69 games in the 2018-19 season and is one point shy of tying his career-high 28 points set in 2017-18.
When Copp first broke out in the league during the 2015-16 season, he was a fourth-liner who still needed some time to make an impact. He had just finished up his final year with the University of Michigan Wolverines, where he was named to the NCAA (B1G) Second All-Star Team. He was known for having an extremely detail-orientated game and excellent positioning, which he used to his advantage to lock down a roster spot. He has seen a big increase in time on ice over the last couple of seasons and has even found himself on an exciting power-play unit that has been finding some success.
On March 24, the Jets beat the Vancouver Canucks 5-1, their second win in as many games. Copp, who had never scored an NHL hat trick, recorded the first 4-goal game of his career.
“I’m gonna have a hard time remembering my last four-goal game,” Copp said after the game. “I don’t know if that’s ever happened before, so pretty cool experience.”
Head coach Paul Maurice had high praise for the 26-year-old: “He’s really worked at his offensive game. He’s spent an awful lot of time on the ice handling pucks, taking passes. I think his relationship with Mark Scheifele has helped that. I think that they spend a lot of time working on those things.”
Copp, who in recent seasons, has been pushing the 30-point mark, is already closing in on that total with 27 points (11 goals, 16 assists) in 36 games. He is well on his way to finishing the season with career-high totals. When you watch that 3rd line play, they are not a normal checking line.
Instead, when they are out there against other checking lines, they are looking to create offensive chances and throw pucks at the net to get on the scoresheet. In the last 7 games, Copp has put up 8 points (6 goals, 2 assists) and continues to be on a hot streak. With just 20 games left in the 2020-21 regular season, it will be interesting to watch the season come to an end over the course of the next month and see how Copp and the Jets transition into the playoffs.