Coach not concerned about Laine’s slump

Sniper's game improving in other areas

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While Patrik Laine has gone eight games without a goal and has only four in his past 29 outings, there has been no public hand-wringing from Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice over the 20-year-old Finn’s plight.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 06/02/2019 (1389 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

While Patrik Laine has gone eight games without a goal and has only four in his past 29 outings, there has been no public hand-wringing from Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice over the 20-year-old Finn’s plight.

So what is Maurice’s next step with Laine?

“Some of it’s just personnel changes,” Maurice said following Wednesday’s practice. “Players coming in and out of lineup affect who he plays with. He likes playing over on the left side, we like some of the things that have come with him playing on the left side. So, we’ll leave him there for now and then let him work through it.

Trevor Hagan / The Canadian Press files Jets sniper Patrik Laine has been improving other parts of his game during his current goal funk.

“These are good things that come out of a player going through what Patty goes through. You’re going to experience it, especially a player that has big-number expectations. The 25 goals isn’t a career year, it’s a sign that you’re struggling, so learning how to handle it, focus on other parts of the game, make those parts better and be patient on one hand and wait for that confidence and good feeling to come back.”

Curiously, Laine’s 25 goals in 53 games are one ahead of his total after 53 games in 2017-18 and two ahead of his 53-game total during his rookie season.

Teammate Dustin Byfuglien isn’t worried about Laine.

“He’ll get through it,” Byfuglien said. “Everyone goes through it in their career sometime. He’s playing fine. I’ve been watching him closely, and there isn’t much that… there’s things that happen that you’ve just got to let it go.”

Did Byfuglien offer any advice?

“He’s doing fine,” Byfuglien said. “He doesn’t need anything. It just needs finally to bounce off his head or something.”

Aside from the goal drought, Maurice has been satisfied with other parts of Laine’s game.

“I’ve got a different view of his five-on-five game. To me, it’s quite a bit better than it was two months ago, this past year or the year prior. We’ve got two really young guys on the wings there, learning their craft, so he’s made a lot of improvements in his game and he’ll keep getting better,” Maurice said.

BACKUP PLAN

No. 2 goaltender Laurent Brossoit, who could be the NHL’s most-improved player, hasn’t been pestering the coaching staff for more playing time.

“I don’t want to be that guy that is kind of a pain and always asking for games,” said Brossoit, who is slated to start either Saturday or Sunday during Winnipeg’s three-game road trip. “I’ll just let my actions speak louder than my words in practice, day to day and how I play in games. Hopefully, that’s enough to get me some earned starting time.”

Brossoit’s stat line is ridiculously good: a 10-2-1 record with a .940 save percentage and a 2.09 goals-against average. His confidence is sky-high.

“To be honest, nowadays I’ll go in the net and I’ll expect a good result and know I’ll perform just by the way I’ve been feeling in practices even leading up to the start, and even the mornings on game days that I’m starting I always feel good, so I don’t get as nervous on the way in, which is really, really nice,” Brossoit said.

mike.sawatzky@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @sawa14

Mike Sawatzky

Mike Sawatzky
Reporter

Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.

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