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Copp shows versatility in Jets preseason win

23-year-old splits time at even strength, power play, and penalty kill

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton /

WINNIPEG - Andrew Copp's versatility was on full display in the Winnipeg Jets' 5-2 preseason win over the Calgary Flames.

The third-year pro finished with 18:21 of ice time, with 2:25 of it coming on the power play, and 4:43 on the penalty kill.

That suits the 23-year-old just fine.

"I feel like that's part of my game, being able to play in any situation," said Copp. "So it was nice to get that opportunity and take advantage of it with the goal late and being a good screen in front. The more I can play, the more I'm going to like it."

After Adam Lowry left the game with a lower-body injury (which Maurice said the team doesn't think is "significant") Copp was put into a net front role on the power play. He provided the screen for Dustin Byfuglien's goal with 2:43 remaining in regulation. It's not a spot he's used to playing much, even dating back to his days with the University of Michigan.

"I was on the half wall (there)," Copp said. "We were a rotational group, so I ended up at the net-front. My net front game has just gotten better just working on it in practice and what not. It's not really something I've tried out in a game, and it worked out okay for the first time."

Video: CGY@WPG: Byfuglien ropes PPG in from the point

While the Jets power play was red-hot - converting four times on five opportunities - the penalty kill was equally impressive, keeping the Flames off the scoreboard on five chances.

Copp was paired with Brandon Tanev in most penalty killing situations, and that's where Maurice feels an opportunity lies for the Michigan native.

"The penalty killing is the area of the first opportunity for him. I thought he and Tanev tonight, there was some real nice chemistry on the penalty kill together," said Maurice. "As good as our power play was tonight, we still are (trying to) develop penalty killers. A goal saved is as valuable as the ones we put in. Andrew is trying to get his teeth into the PK as much as he can."

Over his 142 NHL games, Copp has played on every line from the fourth to the first, and Maurice had him on the right wing tonight in an effort to further increase the forward's versatility. That would make the left-hander capable of playing every forward position, including centre, the position he originally came into the league playing.

"I feel like being able to play with any sort of player in any sort of game is going to help me increase my role on the team," Copp said. "I think it's going to help me get more ice time, whether it's defensive zone face-offs late in the game, or a shut down line against the other team's top line. If push comes to shove and I end up on the power play I feel comfortable doing that. I feel like it's an important piece for me to get more playing time."

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