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It’s Matthews vs. Laine in Winnipeg, where the Jets have started slow

2016 NHL Draft - Round One

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24: Patrik Laine celebrates after being selected second overall by the Winnipeg Jets during round one of the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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The pre-game hype has been all about the first meeting between Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine, the first and second overall picks in the 2016 draft, respectively.

But for the Winnipeg Jets, tonight’s home game against the Toronto Maple Leafs should be about figuring things out, before the season starts veering off the rails.

The Jets have not been very good out of the gate. They’re 1-2-0 after three games, and their only win required a third-period comeback from 4-1 down to Carolina. At five on five, they have not controlled the puck enough in the attacking zone, and their possession stats reflect as much.

On Monday, the Jets dropped a 4-1 decision to Boston. They outshot the Bruins, 35-25, but failed to score on the 13 shots they tallied on five power plays.

“I still think we have another level of work to get to, with our work ethic,” said defenseman Tyler Myers, per the Winnipeg Sun. “It was better (against Boston) and we spent more time in the offensive zone, but there’s another level we can get to, (one) that’s more consistent.”

The Jets entered the season with a good deal of optimism, buoyed by the drafting of Laine and the arrival of top prospect Kyle Connor. There was also reason to think the goaltending might improve after Ondrej Pavelec was sent to the AHL, but young Connor Hellebuyck has an .863 save percentage in two starts, and oh by the way, the “long term” injury to center Bryan Little hasn’t helped either.

Meanwhile, the Jacob Trouba situation hangs over the club. He has to sign an NHL contract by Dec. 1, otherwise he can’t play the rest of the season. It remains to be seen if the club will grant his trade request. And if he does get dealt, what will the Jets get for him?

The Jets host the Leafs tonight, then play outdoors Sunday against Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers.

Related: Babies get in free: NHL changes ticket policy after outcry in Winnipeg