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The drought goes on

Scheifele says his goal-less string is nothing to worry about

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Winnipeg Jets coach Claude Noel suspects rookie centre Mark Scheifele's confidence might be waning, but the 20-year-old 2011 first-round draft pick isn't letting on.

 

Scheifele hasn't scored since the season opener, now 22 straight games without a goal.

"Nothing," said Scheifele when asked what's been happening to his offensive confidence. "I still have faith in myself that I can score goals and make plays.

"I don't think that confidence can ever go away. You just have to keep on doing the simple things and know that it will come when it comes.

'I'm happy with Mark. I don't measure Mark in goals, assists, points. I measure things in how he's progressing along. Is he learning? Is there growth in his game? That's what I measure by'

-- Jets head coach Claude Noel

"If the NHL was easy and everyone could score, then everyone would be in the NHL. It's not that easy and you have to focus on what you need to do to help the team."

The Kitchener, Ont., native said he's not losing any sleep about his one-goal total through 23 games.

"The league isn't about scoring goals," he said. "It's about playing your best to help the team win."

Noel and the Jets are no doubt hoping for more from the youngster who knew how to pile up the points when he played junior. In three OHL seasons, he piled up 84 goals and 217 points in 158 games.

And when it was really crunch time, he had 41 points in 21 OHL playoff games last spring.

This season, though, Scheifele has just a goal and four assists. And he's minus-four, with minus-three in two less-than-perfect games this week.

"Well I would assume it (his confidence) is a little bit below the bar because he's a passionate young player that expects a lot from himself," Noel said Wednesday.

"He'll be no different than anybody else. With Mark, this is probably a little bit of an adjustment, being here longer than nine, 10 games. Now he understands the league, sees the league. That's good experience for him."

Scheifele stayed with the Jets for seven, then four games after his first two pro training camps in 2011 and 2013 after the lockout.

"I'm happy with Mark," Noel said. "I don't measure Mark in goals, assists, points. I measure things in how he's progressing along. Is he learning? Is there growth in his game? That's what I measure by.

"Having said growth you have to understand there are times when there are ups and downs in that growth. They all have them."

Noel made another organizational plea for patience, something that comes frequently from GM Kevin Cheveldayoff when asked about younger players.

"The problem in today's world is that we don't have patience in players," the coach said.

"We want them now and we want them right away. How come he's really good at 18? How come he's great at 19? How come he's not (today)? That's the way it goes.

"I'm happy with Mark. He's growing, he's adjusting, he's going through some adversity and that's just part of growth and it's not a bad thing. He cares about his game and his teammates."

Scheifele said his focus on improving will not decline.

"I think I've been getting better every game," the rookie said. "There are a lot of things I've focused on the last little bit. I think I just have to continue to have that attitude. It's a process. It's not going to come in a day. I think I just have to continue to focus on the things I need to focus on and go from there."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 21, 2013 0

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Updated on Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 6:55 AM CST: adds photo

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