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Scheifele's sharp skills starting to surface

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THE puck was only in transit for a second as it zipped from tape to tape, its trajectory sending it squarely between Detroit defender Kyle Quincey's legs.

Not that Michael Frolik was surprised Mark Scheifele found him on the other side of Quincey, exactly. Nah, the winger simply took the pass, and snapped it into the back of the net. As for Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, can't fault him on that one. He didn't have much of a chance.

"I always try to expect those passes, and I try always to be ready," Frolik said later of that delicious dish. "It was a great play."

It was a big one, when it came, tying the game at 2-2 with plenty of time left to play, and this line wasn't done. Their second marker, an early third-period one, was well-deserved too, as Scheifele and Frolik worked the puck around the Detroit net, drawing defenders while Matt Halischuk set up camp in the slot. When Frolik nipped it to him, Halischuk rifled a shot into the net.

That wasn't just the game-winner. It was also Halischuk's first goal as a Jet and reporters asked him about that. "It felt like I've had some chances the last couple weeks, so it's nice to bury one and contribute," he said, short and sweet.

If there is anything more to be read into here, it is this: Scheifele's line was rolling on Monday night, because the rookie centre was pushing it along. He looked like the player fans got to know as a junior, hunting pucks and passes like a shark. He also won 56 per cent of his draws and mostly, he just looked like he belonged. Halischuk said the rookie is "definitely" getting stronger every game, and Scheifele himself agreed -- not only on the scoresheet.

"I think obviously, goals went in, and I was able to get a few points, but I think the biggest thing, I thought I was playing really well defensively," he said after the game. "I was supporting the puck really well, I was in the right spots, I was reloading on the forecheck really well. I think that's something that helped me do so good today."

So now, for Scheifele, the question he can answer is about consistency. Maybe playing between Halischuk and Frolik will help, as the Czech winger plays a smart and steady game, and Halischuk will hustle to help create some space. Coach Claude Noel certainly liked what he saw in these last two games.

"I thought they were our best line (against Chicago)," the coach said. "They just seem to have some chemistry... they're just a good, dependable line that has played well."

That's sort of how Frolik saw it too, how some good chances by his line in Saturday's loss paved the way for Monday's fluid execution. "We try to talk before the game, and make sure we're on the same page," he said. "I think last few games it was working and we just didn't score. Tonight, it went in and it was a great two goals."

melissa.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 5, 2013 C2

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