April 26, 2018

Winnipeg
7° C, A few clouds

Full Forecast

Record: 52 – 20 – 10

Winnipeg Jets Logo

Winnipeg Jets (52 – 20 – 10)

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Playing decoy role no problem for Jets' Laine

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>Winnipeg Jets' Adam Lowry was a key contributor in game one, especially at the face-off dot late in the game.</p>

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Winnipeg Jets' Adam Lowry was a key contributor in game one, especially at the face-off dot late in the game.

Patrik Laine is certainly no dummy. But he’s more than happy to play the role of decoy if it helps his team get results.

Winnipeg’s first goal of the 2018 playoffs was a classic case of the Laine factor coming into play. While short-handed late in the second period, Minnesota was clearly paying much attention to Laine and his potentially lethal shot on the left side.

With the puck on captain Blake Wheeler’s stick, a cross-seam pass to Laine was a very real possibility. It’s worked plenty of times this season.

Laine was well-covered, but that simply created a spot in the slot for Mark Scheifele, who was wide open for Wheeler’s pass and one-timed it past Devan Dubnyk for his first career playoff goal.

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 60 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

Patrik Laine is certainly no dummy. But he’s more than happy to play the role of decoy if it helps his team get results.

Winnipeg’s first goal of the 2018 playoffs was a classic case of the Laine factor coming into play. While short-handed late in the second period, Minnesota was clearly paying much attention to Laine and his potentially lethal shot on the left side.

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Winnipeg Jets' Nikolaj Ehlers narrowly avoids a hit by Minnesota Wild's Jonas Brodin and Matt Dumba during second period, Wednesday.</p>

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Winnipeg Jets' Nikolaj Ehlers narrowly avoids a hit by Minnesota Wild's Jonas Brodin and Matt Dumba during second period, Wednesday.

With the puck on captain Blake Wheeler’s stick, a cross-seam pass to Laine was a very real possibility. It’s worked plenty of times this season.

Laine was well-covered, but that simply created a spot in the slot for Mark Scheifele, who was wide open for Wheeler’s pass and one-timed it past Devan Dubnyk for his first career playoff goal.

"If they’re cheating on me, then Mark is going to be open and they have to pay for it. Those guys, it’s not just a one-guy power play. We have all five guys who can score. We are going to make them pay if they’re going to cheat, so much," Laine said following the game.

Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau said Thursday the play was the subject of much video review for his squad.

"We made a mistake that we won’t make again," he said.

● ● ●

Nikolaj Ehlers induced a roar inside Bell MTS Place on Wednesday night when he nearly went end to end with one of his trademark rushes.

He also might have found himself planted in the front row of the seats if Minnesota defenceman Matt Dumba didn’t just miss on what would have been a violent open-ice hit.

Ehlers said Thursday he saw him coming.

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Patrik Laine, Paul Stastny, Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele celebrate Sheifele's power play goal against the Minnesota Wild in the second period of game one, Wednesday. Scheifele's goal was the result of a gap in coverage caused when the Wild were cheating over towards Laine leaving Scheifele wide open in the slot giving him time to bury a Blake Wheeler pass.</p>

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Patrik Laine, Paul Stastny, Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele celebrate Sheifele's power play goal against the Minnesota Wild in the second period of game one, Wednesday. Scheifele's goal was the result of a gap in coverage caused when the Wild were cheating over towards Laine leaving Scheifele wide open in the slot giving him time to bury a Blake Wheeler pass.

"I was just trying to skate up as fast as I can and try and create something. I remember about three years ago, in pre-season, he stepped up on me and got me. So, I figured he was going to try and do that again. I had my head up. I knew he was coming. I was just trying to get around him," Ehlers said.

"A rush like that, it’s exciting hearing the crowd going, ‘Ooooh,’ and then it always ends up with, ‘Ahhhh.’ Hopefully, one day, it can end up with everybody standing up and celebrating."

● ● ●

Adam Lowry has improved many aspects of his game. But the fifth-year pro said getting better in the faceoff dot is one of the skills he takes great pride in.

The importance was on display in Game 1 on Wednesday as Lowry won three defensive-zone draws in the final minute of the game with his team protecting a one-goal lead. All came against Minnesota captain Mikko Koivu after the Jets had iced the puck trying to hit the empty net.

"You want to be out there in those key situations and you want to be taking those key draws. Obviously, you don’t expect to win every faceoff, you’re looking to come in and win six out of 10," Lowry said. He won nine of 14 in the game, for a 69 per cent efficiency rate. Only Jets centre Paul Stastny (10-4) was more effective on either team. Winnipeg improved immensely on faceoffs this season and went from being one of the worst teams in the league to one of the best.

(AP Photo/Hannah Foslien)</p><p>Minnesota Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau said the Winnipeg Jets power play goal Wednesday was the subject of much of the Wild's video work today.</p>

(AP Photo/Hannah Foslien)

Minnesota Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau said the Winnipeg Jets power play goal Wednesday was the subject of much of the Wild's video work today.

● ● ●

Dustin Byfuglien had what hockey analysts would call a "high-event" Game 1. The hulking Jets defenceman blew up Minnesota’s Joel Eriksson Ek with a huge hit, but also made a costly pinch early in the third period that led to a Wild two-on-one and a goal.

"He was all over the place. You have to just be aware of where he is, quite frankly. He can be behind the net. He can stay out for two minutes. He’s so physically imposing that we have to know where he is. He’s a great player," Boudreau said Wednesday of a player he’s been coaching against for more than a decade, beginning in the AHL.

Jets coach Paul Maurice told a story Thursday about coaching Team Europe at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

"We’re playing Team USA for the first game. And Dustin Byfuglien’s not in the lineup. And I got about seven stories, it’s ‘Thank God.’ And then they tell you the story, Tomas Tatar, of how Dustin at some point blew them up. And they were so pleased he wasn’t in the lineup. So, one of those hits, and he’s been doing that selectively in the second half of the season, very, very well. Very clean hits," Maurice said.

"I think you need to know he pulls off on just about every single hit. Because he’s had a couple where he hit somebody, it might have been (Jay) Bouwmeester in St. Louis a couple years ago, where the feedback was it’s a clean hit, but there’s gotta be a penalty there, it was so violent. He’s such a big, powerful guy. He pulls on almost every one of his hits. But it is, it’s not a pun, impactful on the game. He can change the way you think. There are certain defencemen in the league that you play differently as a forward, you’re going to give them a bit more room and maybe move the puck a bit more quicker. That just makes you smart."

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Winnipeg Jets' Dustin Byfuglien takes out Minnesota Wild's Jared Spurgeon Wednesday.</p>

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Winnipeg Jets' Dustin Byfuglien takes out Minnesota Wild's Jared Spurgeon Wednesday.

As for managing risk on some of the pinches, Maurice said it’s a delicate balancing act.

"On every single pinch that we have there’s a forward component to it, so that’s a base to it. There’s a certain amount of offensive-zone time that we generate by an active blue line. That one got away off a blocked shot, puck was lost, thought he could get to it. We give our defencemen room to make that decision," Maurice said.

"I believe, the stat is still true, we give up the fewest odd-man rushes in the National Hockey League in the past season. Our defencemen normally make very very good decisions there and forwards do a great job of covering up."

● ● ●

Maurice made no bones about the fact he loves to watch playoff hockey — even on nights when his own team wasn’t playing.

He was planning on a puck buffet Thursday night as five other NHL series got underway, including two in the Western Conference and three in the Eastern Conference.

"The Eastern Conference is like candy, and the Western Conference would be like meat and potatoes. Gotta get the main meal in," Maurice said. "They start earlier. Six o’clock, right, we’re all going to be doing the same things. Five and a half straight hours of playoff hockey is a pretty good night."

Maurice had a parting message for the packed media gallery as he finished his 16-minute availability Thursday.

"All right, not too much candy for you people tonight. Meat and potatoes," he said.

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

Read more by Mike McIntyre.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

History

Updated on Thursday, April 12, 2018 at 7:49 PM CDT: Adds video

April 13, 2018 at 6:13 AM: Final

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective January 2015.