Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/1/2019 (1214 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
PHILADELPHIA — He’s not exactly clicking on "Start Over" but Patrik Laine has definitely adopted a fresh outlook as he prepares for Game 49 of the NHL season.
The Winnipeg winger and self-proclaimed video-game junkie is hoping to get back into goal-scoring mode — without cheating defensively — as the Jets come off an eight-day league-imposed respite.
Laine has 25 goals, tied for the team lead with centre Mark Scheifele. Only 15 NHLers have fired more pucks in more nets than the 20-year-old Finnish product during the 2018-19 campaign. But he has just one goal in his past 10 games and two over the past 16 contests dating back to Dec. 14.
Does he feel recharged after a relaxing week in Florida, hanging out with his buddy, Panthers star centre Alex Barkov?
"I hope so. Just not thinking about hockey and just doing something else. Just trying to get the batteries full. We’re going to be ready for the last stretch and the last games before the playoffs," Laine said.
"I think there’s been good stretches and bad stretches, but still, 25 goals is more than I’ve had before an all-star break. That’s good enough for me."
It’s true. During his tremendous 36-goal rookie campaign during the 2016-17 season, he had 19 goals in his first 44 games at the break. And last year, he pumped in 20 goals in 47 games prior to the break.
But with that shot and the ice time and power-play opportunities he’s afforded, onlookers continue to expect more.
"He’s a 20 year old, a young man, who’s only scored 25 this year," Jets coach Paul Maurice offered, facetiously. "We have an awful lot of patience with it. He’s going to have 40-goal years, he may have a 60-goal year or more, who knows what he gets to? It doesn’t really matter. But his game’s getting better, for sure."
After his ridiculous 18-goal output during the month of November, Laine was off his game in December and the first half of January. Playing on the second line with centre Bryan Little and a mix of either Nikolaj Ehlers, Kyle Connor or Jack Roslovic on the opposite side, his marksmanship has been off and his defensive deficiencies then become more apparent.
For a big man — 6-5, 206 pounds — he’s still figuring out how to manage the puck in all areas of the ice, and has tried to limit his turnovers with some success. Shoring up that part of his game appears to be his main objective.
"Always trying to improve and always trying to be better, and that’s kind of my focus — to help my team to win and just get ready for the playoffs," he said.
Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).