Drilling in real time on a podium in an interview with Zoom probably wasn’t how the all-round Winnipeg Jets forward envisioned celebrating the first four-goal game of his NHL career.
But when it comes to hitting rare milestones like this, a four-goal performance in a 5-1 triumph over the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday, you take them as you can get them.
“I’m going to have a hard time remembering my last four-goal game,” said Copp, who became the first NHL player to score four goals in one game this season. “I don’t know, I don’t know if it’s ever happened. ”
That hadn’t happened since Copp broke into the NHL on the final day of the regular season in 2015, preparing for the Jets after securing a playoff berth.
That didn’t happen for three seasons with the University of Michigan Wolverines, where Copp rose from team captain within three years.
Copp’s origin story is multi-layered, dating back to his days as a two-sport athlete who was a star quarterback and set the state record in a single game for passing yards ( 557) for Skyline High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
After choosing to pursue his puck dream instead of chasing a dream on the grid, Copp had to come out and win all he had.
When you’re not the star recruit, you are forced to use your strengths and rely on your leadership ability and intangibles to get noticed.
For a guy who often started on the outskirts of the roster, Copp always found a way to rise through the ranks and make a valuable contribution.
You can count on him when the chips have fallen.
This rise in trajectory followed him to the NHL, where Copp barged in as a fourth row who was known for his great hockey intelligence, impeccable positioning and detail-oriented play.
The opening was all he needed to establish himself as a regular, but Copp was always hungry for more.
Creating chances for himself and his linemen has never been a problem for Copp since joining the Jets, but the enormous effort he has put into improving his finish around the net is finally wearing his fruits.
“I worked very hard on it. Like I said, it doesn’t happen overnight, ”said Copp, who has 10 goals and 25 points in 33 games this season. “Some nights are much better than others. There are still how many more games to play, and there is still more to prove. ”
That’s the problem with Copp: Even on one night when he had a big breakthrough, he wasn’t about to let an ounce of complacency enter the equation.
There are still 23 games left in the regular season and Copp has other things to do.
Earlier today, Copp was telling reporters about the game from his line with Adam Lowry and Mason Appleton – a unit that scored two goals in Monday’s 4-0 win and is known for their ability to lead the game.
“I don’t really see us as a line of control anymore,” Copp said. “Before, we were very defensive oriented. But now you look at the guys we’ve got on the line and the production we’ve had, we don’t look at ourselves that way. We are going to be responsible, we are not going to change our game in any way. We are certainly going to play the right way in zone D. As soon as we get to where we are looking to attack, our attacking game is very different from maybe our second line with its speed, dynamics and gameplay.
“Our attack is going to be a little different for sure. When we’re in the attacking zone, we’re looking to score, we’re looking to bring the pucks to the net. We don’t try, especially when we have the puck, to be too sure of the plays just because it’s coming the other way. Especially on the road, the teams try to avoid putting some guys against us. If we have third row games, we don’t go there to close their third row, we go there to score.
Mission accomplished – and not well taken.
The Lowry line can take the burden of playing offensive players, but they do more than just hold water; they win these confrontations and create big problems for the opposition.
“He really worked on it, the simple answer would be,” Jets head coach Paul Maurice said when asked to explain how Copp got to the last leg of his hockey journey. “He spends a lot of time trying to develop that part of his game. I think his talent and his gift is the defensive part of the game, and it comes naturally to him. He spent a lot of time developing his hands, picking pucks off the boards. I just worked there and worked there.
As for the Jets, not only did they think of consecutive regulatory losses for the first time this season in the rearview mirror as they swept the Canucks, but they did so with authority, beating their opponent 9-1 in the two-game series.
Instead of seeing things turn in a spiral after losing three of four, the Jets found themselves tied at three for first place in the North Division with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers.
Connor Hellebuyck’s brilliant play was at the heart of the matter, although the score from both games might suggest it was a lopsided business.
“He’s definitely a big or big stage goalie,” Jets rookie defenseman Logan Stanley said. “He’s been great all year and especially the last two games. We are happy to have him on our team. ”
That could be the last understatement.
When Hellebuyck is as stuck as he was in the last two games, it can create doubt in the opponent’s psyche, almost as if it takes a perfect shot or deflection to beat him.
It’s a scary proposition.
“I’m just continuing, I’m getting better every day with the details I’ve started to build since the start of the season,” said Hellebuyck.
On the bridge, there are three games against a Calgary Flames team who appear to be in despair after losing back-to-back games to the Ottawa Senators.
The Jets can see the light at the end of that tunnel, with 13 of 17 games already played in this eventful March, and they sit well with a 20-11-2 record.
Instead of falling back into the pack, the Jets have improved their game and continue to strengthen their collective belief.
“We are a confident group. I would say that our confidence is not very fragile, it is real. We believe in ourselves and in each other and in our process, ”Copp said. “Obviously, if we lose a few, that confidence will drop a bit. But when you get started, I don’t think you get too confident.
“When we’re doing well, I feel like we think this is the way it should be, which is a sign of a winning team. In my book, you expect these results, you expect to win. I don’t know if there is a season of confidence, but I think we feel really good about ourselves, as we should. But we can’t go too high either.
Wise advice from a guy who knows a thing or two on how to keep things in perspective and push for bigger heights.