8.6 C
New York
Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Home Sport Jets sniper Patrik Laine 'still kind of far away' from being ready...

Jets sniper Patrik Laine ‘still kind of far away’ from being ready for game action

Patrik Laine said back in May there was a good chance he’d look “terrible” if the NHL resumed its season this summer.

Like most players locked down during the COVID-19 pandemic, the always-blunt Winnipeg Jets sniper hadn’t been on skates in more than two months. He also scoffed at the idea of strapping on rollerblades.

With training camps now in full swing eight weeks later, and the league’s restart fast-approaching, that feeling of not being ready hasn’t really changed.

“Still kind of far away,” Laine said Wednesday when asked about the current state of his game. “It’s kind of hard to see myself playing playoff hockey in two weeks.

“But just trying to make the most out of it and trying to be as well-prepared as I and as we can… just try to work hard these next couple of weeks so we’ll be ready when the puck drops.”

Those games are coming quick for the 24 teams involved in the resumption of play, including the Jets, who are set to meet the Calgary Flames in the only all-Canadian matchup of the best-of-five qualifying round beginning Aug. 1 in the Edmonton hub for spot in the traditional post-season bracket.

In truth, the entire league is scrambling to get back up to speed. Certain players had access to home gyms and ice sooner than others. It’s simply a reality of the times.

And all things considered, Winnipeg head coach Paul Maurice said Laine, who eventually got skating back home in Finland, isn’t as far away as the winger made it sound.

“Kind of looks exactly like everybody else,” Maurice said. “I don’t think anybody looks the way they’re going to in about two weeks. We all expect that. It’s part of building.”

Building out full game

Building is also what Laine did with his own game this season before the NHL was shuttered in mid-March by the novel coronavirus.

Coming off a disappointing 50-point campaign in 2018-19 — he’d scored 80 goals and added 54 assists in his first two seasons after being picked second overall behind Auston Matthews at the 2016 draft — Laine focused on becoming a more complete player.

“You always want to get better at everything you’re doing, but I think just try to add some consistency,” said the 22-year-old. “The difference between a bad night and a good night — that gap — just try to get that a little bit smaller and try to get the better overall game in better shape.”

WATCH | Edmonton, Toronto prepare to welcome NHL:

As Toronto and Edmonton prepare to host the rest of the NHL season, questions are being raised about player safety and the accuracy of the financial benefits for the bubble cities. 2:01

Laine missed training camp back in September while working on a two-year, $13.5-million US contract extension, but shot out of the starting blocks after rejoining the team, having put up 28 goals and 63 points in 68 games when the season was suspended.

“Development and growth,” Maurice said of what Laine showed from October through March compared to his three previous campaigns. “It’s hard to explain when you get a young man that has such success in something specific like scoring goals. But in so many ways, he wouldn’t be any different than any other 18-year-old, especially coming from Europe. [The NHL is] a different style of hockey.

“It’s a far different level of the game. It happens so much faster.”

Hoping for top-line duties

Maurice said Laine’s biggest jump came at 5-on-5 and understanding the need to work as part of a unit.

“There’s a big chunk of the game of hockey where nothing actually happens unless you don’t do your job,” said the coach. “He’s gotten to be quite a bit better at just doing the job, plays without the puck more.

“If he’s the first guy on the forecheck, he needs to do something so the four players can move. Most skilled players or uniquely-skilled players that you get into the NHL, they’ve never really had an awareness of that — that what they do changes what everybody else around them does.”

Laine made waves during his contract impasse when he told a Finnish reporter he deserved to play with the Jets’ best players, namely Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler.

“I think I’ve been able to show everybody that I’m capable of playing top minutes and against top players,” Laine said Wednesday. “Hopefully I’m going to get more responsibilities in the future.”

Maurice, meanwhile, made it clear at no time did he have a problem with Laine’s comments.

“Had I taken offence to that, I would’ve been greatly offended 20 years ago and every year since,” said the veteran of exactly 1,600 regular-season NHL games. “I wonder a lot of times if it’s not requisite to greatness. These guys want more. They want to play more. They want to play more minutes.

“The great players have to have that belief in themselves that they deserve to be on the ice all the time.”

That belief is surely still there for Laine, even though it might be a little shaky at the moment.

Source link

Today news
Today News 1 runs four of the western GTA’s most influential media websites, offering news, food, lifestyle and entertainment coverage for millions to the Golden Horseshoe and GTA regions. The independently-run, online news source was founded in 2019 and specializes in everything from breaking news to food and restaurant, arts and entertainment and lifestyle coverage.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -

Most Popular

Global economy will suffer as long as rich countries don’t help vaccinate poor ones, OECD warns

A leading international economic watchdog urged developed countries to put more effort into providing low-income countries with coronavirus vaccines in order to ensure...

Winnipeg designer helps customers keep their heads up during pandemic

A Winnipeg headband designer is turning the pandemic blues into beautiful, hand-made headpieces that are spreading across social media and taking off worldwide....

Prairie ranchers take stock of summer drought as decisions about culling cattle loom

Pounded by drought and cattle feed shortages, the last few months have been gruelling for many Prairie ranchers.  Now, as fall approaches and...

Philanthropist, media magnate Allan Slaight dead at 90

Canadian broadcasting mogul Allan Slaight, whose support of the country's arts scene made him an ubiquitous name at venues and events — including...

Recent Comments