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Ladd employee of the month

Jet burns through February with 10 goals, on pace for career high

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Andrew LADD has never been on a better scoring pace in his eight NHL seasons.

The Winnipeg Jets captain had 10 goals in February, the best production the franchise has seen in one month in four years.

Ilya Kovalchuk, who holds the Winnipeg/Atlanta one-month record with 14 goals (2007), reached 10 in February, 2009.

"I think our line (with Bryan Little, Blake Wheeler) definitely took the next step and was playing a lot better," Ladd said, asked to identify reasons for his excellent February. "We kind of had that chemistry we had last year and that's a big reason, my linemates

"And just maybe finding my spots, being a little more patient around the net, maybe not jumping all the way in, hanging back a little bit and trying to find those soft spots. Litts and Wheels are really good at finding me in those areas.

"Then there's probably a little luck thrown in there, too."

Ladd delivered the mail on Thursday night at the MTS Centre, scoring early in the game and then with less than nine minutes to go to give the Jets their fifth win in six starts.

The 27-year-old from Maple Ridge, B.C., now has a team-leading 12 goals in 20 games. While he's had no problems being productive in recent seasons -- 28 goals last season, and 29 in the final year in Atlanta -- his 2013 pace would appear to be another level.

In February, Ladd and his dangerous-and-quick release scored on 37 per cent of his shots. He had only one game in the month's 13 where he didn't have at least one shot on goal.

In the NHL picture, his shooting percentage on the season is 26.1. Among players who have at least one shot on goal per game and played full-time, only Boston's Brad Marchand (30.3) and Calgary's Alex Tanguay (27.3) are doing better.

On his own chart, Ladd has been a 10.6 per cent and a 14.9 per cent shooter in his previous two seasons, again illustrating that the February just completed was a cut above.

"I think what's come through is that he's hit the net," Jets coach Claude Noel said Friday, a rare full-practice day as the team prepared for today's home matinee against the Washington Capitals (2 p.m., CBC, TSN1290). "That's one of the things that has helped him.

"Over and above that for me, I don't think it's anything new for me with him. It's just his work. He works and he gets rewarded for the work. He puts in an honest day's work and he does a lot of the right things and he gets rewarded for it.

"Sometimes confidence is a really good thing. Most times it is."

If you sample the Jets dressing room about the captain, you'd be almost bored by the consistency of responses.

"Every time he touches the puck, it seems like something's going to happen," said Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec

Defenceman Zach Bogosian described the leadership package.

"He's been great for us," Bogisian said. "He's leading by example, exactly what you want out of a captain. If you look at his game, he's been doing a lot of things that don't show up on the stats sheet, in the dirty areas. He's been playing great for us. He's driving this team right now."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

LADD THE SHOOTER

LAST 5 GAMES:

4 goals12 shots33%

FEBRUARY:

10 goals 27 shots 37%

2013:

12 goals 46 shots 26.1%

2011-12:

28 goals 265 shots 10.6%

2010-11:

29 goals 195 shots 14.9%

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 2, 2013 C3

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