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Hextall on Hockey: Ehlers the enforcer?

For the second time in three games, the Winnipeg Jets’ Nikolaj Ehlers has taken a five-minute major for fighting.

Yes, it seems that Nikolaj Ehlers – whose 13 goals has him tied for the team lead – has decided to expand his on-ice resume to enforcer.

First, let me just say, I appreciate Ehlers’ willingness to stand in against the likes of the Dallas Stars’ Jamie Benn or Anaheim Ducks’ Ryan Getzlaf.

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I also understand how endearing it must be to his teammates and fans to see the Dane punch well above his weight class with both foes he has faced. Ehlers’ actions are a showcase that he’s willing to “do it all” for his team. But is it smart?

READ MORE: Hextall on Hockey — Connected Jets

In Sunday’s tilt with Getzlaf, Ehlers, at six feet tall and 172 pounds, gave up size to the Ducks centre, who has three inches and 50 pounds on the Jets winger.

When Getzlaf took Ehlers down to the ice, the Ducks captain didn’t take advantage of having the upper hand over Ehlers. Instead, the fight was called.

Not every NHL player would be a gentleman the way Getzlaf was in that situation. I point this out because the last thing the Jets need is Ehlers to break his hand or orbital bone or be concussed… or suffer any of the multiple ailments that could occur in a fight that would sideline him for an extended period of time.

Already without their second-line centre Bryan Little, the Jets cannot afford another vacancy among the team’s top six, especially with the way Ehlers is playing this season — a consistent contributor on offence.

So while we can all appreciate and get a chuckle out of Ehlers’ willingness to “go”… it’s only funny until somebody gets hurt.

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