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This article was published 19/4/2018 (952 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Nobody gave Patrik Laine the bumps. And there was no rousing rendition of Happy Birthday sung in the locker room.
But Matt Hendricks did give Laine a shaving cream pie to the face, while Nikolaj Ehlers offered up a barb about the gift he was planning to give his buddy.
"My company. It’s pretty priceless," Ehlers deadpanned.
Laine said goodbye to his teens on Thursday by turning 20. He had no big plans to mark the occasion, save for spending some time with family in town and playing some video games, of course.
"We gave him a couple hugs and high-fives. He's not a teenager anymore, so that's positive," said forward Bryan Little.
So does Laine feel any wiser now that he's one year older?
"I don’t think so. I’ve always been wise. It’s not going to just change for the day. I’m still wise. I like it this way," said Laine, who sits third all-time for regular-season goals scored by a teenager with 80.
"I’m happy with my numbers as a teenager. Now I’m disappointed that it’s over but I’m happy what I was able to do before my 20th birthday. It’s nice to be here," Laine said Thursday.
He's got two goals already in this playoff series and said he's looking forward to lighting the lamp for a first time as a 20-year-old.
"I think it feels the same, hopefully," he said.
Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice said he thinks the best is yet to come for his Finnish star.
"I don’t want to put a ceiling on the guy, so I don’t want to tell you how important he is to us just yet. I think he’s got a lot of room to get better," said Maurice.
Maurice didn't hide his frustration with the fact the NHL suspended defenceman Josh Morrissey for one game following his unpenalized cross-check to the neck of Minnesota Wild forward Eric Staal in Game 4.
Maurice believed it was an accidental play worthy of a fine, at most.
"I’m disappointed, and then you just move on. I’m not holding anything back from you, biting my tongue. I’m not. I was disappointed with the way it went. And there wouldn’t be a coach in the NHL who had a guy taken out of his lineup that wouldn’t be. So you just, nothing more. Move on," he said Thursday.
"The NHL’s got a job to do, and it’s an important one. I do think they weigh it heavily. They don’t want take players out of the lineup. They’re trying to sometimes be real consistent with a moving target and it’s not always easy. Like I said, we’re disappointed that he’s out. Josh has played two years in the league and he’s had two cross-checking penalties, one of them was coincidental. So it’s not his game. But it’s dealt with and over."
Morrissey skated with the Jets on Thursday but was not made available to speak after practice about missing Game 5.
Don't give the Wild any life.
That was the universal message coming out of the Jets dressing room following Thursday's practice.
"You know what, you say it all the time, but it’s just another game for us. We’re pretty excited, we love playing in front of our own fans. It’s a pretty tough place for opposing teams to play. A chance to close out the series here is pretty exciting. We’re going to be hungry (Friday)," said defenceman Ben Chiarot.
Little said Minnesota will likely come with their strongest effort as they try to keep their season alive.
"We're going to expect their best. Those last games to close out a series are the hardest. It's another part of the learning process. We've got to figure out a way to beat these guys and move on," he said.
Ehlers said nobody is getting ahead of themselves at this stage.
"You want to win the series. You don’t want to give them anything. You want to win Game 5 and move on. Everybody wants to do that. But it’s not going to be as easy as it sounds," said Ehlers, who is looking for his first playoff goal but has potted a pair of assists and looked dangerous at times.
He isn't fretting about not lighting the lamp yet.
"We're up 3-1 in games right now. I honestly couldn't care less. It'd be nice to score. It'd be nice to help this team even more, but we're up 3-1. I'm just going out there and playing the best game I can to help this team win," said Ehlers. "I felt really good in my last game. I felt really confident and comfortable, and thought it was the best game I've played in these four games. Even without getting points you can play a good game and be happy with the way you played."
While the status of defencemen Tyler Myers, Toby Enstrom and Dmitry Kulikov and forward Mathieu Perreault remains somewhat of a mystery, Maurice did offer up some information on another wounded player Thursday.
Hendricks, who shed his non-contact jersey earlier in the week, is good to go. However, he is likely to be a healthy scratch, joining forwards Marko Dano and Shawn Matthias.
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.