Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Scheifele helps chances

Doesn't look out of place in decent first game, has great scoring opportunity

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Of all the individual matters examined in detail with the Winnipeg Jets, you'll find Mark Scheifele's name coming up time and time again.

In Game 1 of his second crack at becoming a full-time NHLer, the 19-year-old natural centre from Kitchener, Ont., certainly did not lower his chances while playing on the right wing.

"I thought he took advantage of the situation that he was in," said Jets coach Claude Noel. "I thought he created some chances and I thought he had a good game. He played pretty well for the amount of minutes that he played."

The team's 2011 No. 1 draft pick had 16 shifts for 11 minutes 49 seconds of icetime.

He played mostly on a line with veterans Jim Slater and Chris Thorburn but did find himself mixed into a few other places as well.

At one point in the third period, the star with the OHL's Barrie Colts found himself on the 9-10-11 Line -- three consecutive Atlanta/Winnipeg first-round draft picks -- with Evander Kane and Alex Burmistrov.

"Obviously it's tough playing with different linemates but for the most part everyone's willing to help you," Scheifele said after his eighth NHL game. He played seven to start last season before being sent back to junior.

"Playing with Burmistrov, he was talking to me a lot. Whoever I was out against, they were helping me out, talking, and that was just a huge thing to learn from those guys. It helps a lot."

Scheifele had two of Winnipeg's 28 shots on goal and one of them might have been a game-changer.

About midway through the second and before Chris Neil put the Sens into the lead for good, Scheifele found himself alone in front of Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson.

With a pass from behind the net from Slater, Scheifele took a split second to position the puck before his shot. Anderson made the glove save.

"It was on my backhand," Scheifele said. "I kind of had to turn my body a little bit so I didn't get the greatest shot off... and the (defender) closed down on me.

"I thought I had something but he closed it up. It was a great pass by Slater for sure."

Scheifele admitted to nerves in the early going Saturday.

"I felt a little nervous at the start and the legs were a little jittery, but as the game went on, I think I felt a little bit better each and every shift," he said. "I think that I just have to continue build off that."

He has participated in several different paces in recent weeks, including at the world junior.

"Obviously it's a different game than junior so it's a huge stepping stone to get up to," he said of his Saturday adjustment. "But I definitely felt good. I thought my legs felt good after the first few shifts.

"It's a tough game. You have to learn quick.

"I thought as the game went on I got better and better."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 20, 2013 B2

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