ANALYSIS: Jets’ second-line wingers need to find chemistry with new centre ASAP

It’s no secret that forwards Nikolaj Ehlers and Cole Perfetti have recently found their way into Rick Bowness’ doghouse.

The head coach of the Winnipeg Jets has been quite honest in expecting more from those two players in particular, in large part since the acquisition of centre Sean Monahan, and their plumb assignment to play alongside him.

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The way Bowness sees it is simple: Monahan is an elite player with a special set of tools, and one that needs to be complemented, especially at five-on-five play. He’s offensive, defensively responsible, wins battles and faceoffs, and is a key piece to Winnipeg’s top-six forward group.

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“Reliable” is the word Bowness used the other day to describe him.

But in the seven games since joining the team, Monahan’s chemistry with Ehlers and Perfetti has been slow to develop and Bowness isn’t blaming the newcomer, who has scored in three straight games and is winning draws at a nearly 60 per cent rate since his arrival.

In fact, Bowness went on to mention that one of his biggest challenges right now — if Ehlers and Perfetti can’t provide the support needed with Monahan to create a dangerous second line for Winnipeg — is to find a couple of wingers that can.

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Ehlers hasn’t scored a goal in 10 straight games, and Perfetti is without a goal in 14 and doesn’t have a point in 11. It’s understandable why the coach is running thin on patience, and explains the reduced ice time of late for the two wingers in question.

With two months remaining in the regular season and the Jets pursuing top spot in their division, Bowness won’t wait too much longer to switch things up to find an appropriate fit with Monahan.

For Ehlers and Perfetti, you could say the leash will be a short one when it comes to any further delays in creating some second-line symmetry, and with it, the tether to getting out of the coach’s doghouse as well.

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