Two weeks ago, prior to a Nov. 2 game against the Dallas Stars, Patrik Laine was struggling through a four-game goalless drought and a period in which he had just two goals in seven games.
“I feel like I can’t do many positive things on the ice,” Laine said. “The team is winning, that’s always good, but it would be nice to help the team.”
He scored that night and has in each game since, now enjoying a five-game goal streak over which time he has six points.
Laine talked about busting out of his slump with a streak using a quote reminiscent of the one Michael Scott took from Wayne Gretzky about missing 100 per cent of the shots you don’t take.
“Just try to shoot a lot,” Laine said. “That’s the key, because if you’re not shooting you’re not scoring.”
Indeed, the sniping Finn has been shooting much more lately. In the last goalless game before this run, Laine failed to register a shot for the first time this season, something he did just four times as a rookie. In his first 11 games of this season, Laine was averaging 2.72 shots per game, but is averaging 4.2 per game over his last five.
When Paul Maurice was asked about Laine’s comments a couple of weeks ago, the Jets coach said he wasn’t concerned at all and that it was a matter of time before the player who scored 36 goals as a rookie would show up.
The head coach looks like a soothsayer today, but he said there was a reason for his optimism aside from the fact that Laine’s skill would, naturally, break through at some point.
“I think my answer was he’s smarter than all of us so I think he had that whole thing, I’m not saying scripted, but he puts pressure on himself because I think he enjoys it in some ways,” Maurice said. “He’s hard on himself. Kind of filleting himself in front of the world there, the hockey world, somehow gets him going, somehow drives him a little bit. So when he’s not playing well he’s angry and grumpy and then he played a little bit harder right, so he gets a little bit snarly out in that game and things start to go for him and now he’s just kinda in that mood.”
Last season, Laine went four or more games without a goal on five different occasions, with the longest drought running six games long. But he never followed any of those droughts with a streak like this one. In fact, his current goal streak is the longest of his young NHL career so far.
The scary thing about it for the rest of the league, according to Maurice, is that Laine’s line with Nik Ehlers and Bryan Little still has room to improve. Little hasn’t scored since Oct. 14, while Ehlers has just one goal in his past five games.
“There’s a place for improvement for that line and (Laine’s) part of that so it’s not all roses yet,” the coach said. “But he can score every night if he’d like.”