Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/2/2019 (950 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
It has been 37 days, and counting, since Patrik Laine scored an NHL goal. And it had been nearly three weeks since he met with the media to discuss the longest slump of his career.
But the 20-year-old finally held court on Tuesday morning after the Winnipeg Jets practised at Bell MTS Iceplex. To be clear, it wasn't Laine's decision to stay silent, but rather a team approach to try and shake things up by keeping him out of the spotlight.
"I think it's getting better. Obviously I'm not scoring, but overall it's OK. Creating chances, playing OK defence. Not allowing that many goals anymore, as a line. So that's obviously good. There's always room to improve. But I think it's decent right now," Laine said about the state of his game.
Of course, the entire Jets team is in need of a bit of a wake-up, having gone 2-3-2 over the past seven games. They still sit on top of the Central Division as they begin a three-game road trip Wednesday night in Denver against the Colorado Avalanche.
"I'm not worrying about that too much. It's just hockey. It's not the end of the world. Just try to do my best this year as well as I can, and always leave it here and just be like a normal person off the ice," said Laine, who is stuck on 25 goals for the season.
"Just work hard every day, try to improve myself as a player during practice. Always try to play hard every night. That's the way to handle it."
Winnipeg just enjoyed two straight days away from the rink in an attempt to recharge the batteries. Laine said he used the time wisely.
"Not doing anything, including hockey. Just hang out at home, doing something with my dad. Just try to get away from hockey for a bit, and just try to get some rest," he said.
Laine was certainly noticeable during Tuesday's skate, ripping three hard shots for goals during drills that seemed to catch goalies Connor Hellebuyck and Laurent Brossoit by surprise.
"You know what, Patrik hasn’t shot the puck in practice since probably the second week he was here, the way he can. Out of kindness for his teammates. By Week 2, the guys were moving, it goes to him and everybody’s on the other side of the ice. That could stop a guy’s career pretty short. So he doesn’t. So he shot the puck today like Patty can. And nobody’s stopping those. So it was good," said coach Paul Maurice.
The bench boss said he's liked what he's seen from Laine as he attempts to get his game back on track.
"So this is all new for all of us. It’s new for Patty, he’s never gone through this before, I’ve never coached a player this extreme before, that can shoot the way he does and then it doesn’t go for him. But we’re learning together. I know that he’s done the things we’ve asked him to do after practice. He’s worked at it. He’s 20. This is not an easy situation," said Maurice.
"Patty’s worked hard, he worked hard today in practice, he scored a couple Patty Laine type goals and everybody had a smile on his face while he was doing it, even the goalies."
Laine was demoted off the top power play unit for several games but was moved back on it late last week. It didn't produce instant results, as Winnipeg is now in an 0-for-19 stretch over the past seven games.
"It's always different to play with different guys on different units. I think they were just trying something new. Now I'm back, and just try to play good and hopefully score a couple from that spot," said Laine.
He'll get his first chance against an Avalanche team that beat the Jets 4-1 last Thursday at Bell MTS Place. Winnipeg them moves on to play games in Las Vegas and Arizona later this week.
"It's going to be a good roadie, for sure. We lost a couple of games now. So it's going to be a good road trip for us. We've got to play better than we've played. Obviously Colorado first. It's always hard to play in Denver, and now especially when they're fighting for their playoff lives. Vegas is always hard, and then Arizona. So it's going to be good roadie, and hopefully get a couple of wins," said Laine.
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.