Jets’ game plan to set up Patrik Laine’s shot is finally paying off

Caroline Cameron and Colby Armstrong go over all of Patrik Laine’s 11 goals in the last week.

As impressive as Patrik Laine’s five-goal game was this past Saturday against the St. Louis Blues, it was just as timely.

Having suffered back-to-back losses for the first time this season, the Jets entered the second period of that game tied 2-2 with a plucky Blues team coming off an impressive victory over the Nashville Predators. Whatever momentum St. Louis had, however, was quashed by Laine’s three-goal outburst in the second period. It’s why we’ve been talking about his heroics ever since, rather than a Jets team with multiple losses in a row.

Celebrity via osmosis
It was interesting to experience first-hand the power of Laine’s five-goal game and not in the way you would think. Let me explain.

If you were watching that broadcast you likely noticed the iconic baby blue jackets worn by the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast personalities, which was an absolute honour. Those jackets are up for auction ending Wednesday with proceeds going towards Hockey Fights Cancer.

Following the game the broadcast crew retired to the hotel where we took a look at the auction website, which gives a breakdown of each bid and the time it was placed. Mine was outperforming expectations and it was clear why.

I had interviewed Laine three times throughout the game and you could literally see the bids going up every time he appeared on camera with me. If all you fine folks out there in the hockey charity world aren’t trying to get Laine involved, I suggest you give him a call. The young man has a stick that sizzles and a smile that sells.

Trigger man
What’s left to be said about Laine’s week after putting up an astounding 11 goals over a four-game span? Believe it or not there are still those who will lament Laine’s lack of assists. With 19 goals on the year and just three assists, no doubt the ratio is stark. But this really shouldn’t matter.

When you have a player as good at something as Laine is at scoring you build a game plan around it. The Jets do that in a lot of ways.

The power play is designed to feed his one-timer, not for him to set up his teammates. The second line is working because Bryan Little is playing perfectly off Kyle Connor’s speed and puck retrieval, which frees Laine to find the quiet spots where he does his best work. Much of the Jets game plan is built to provide him shooting opportunities and it’s working. Good enough. No one is ripping on Blake Wheeler for his stat line of four goals and 23 assists.

Senior Writer Ryan Dixon and NHL Editor Rory Boylen always give it 110%, but never rely on clichés when it comes to podcasting. Instead, they use a mix of facts, fun and a varied group of hockey voices to cover Canada’s most beloved game.

Top end troubles
I’ve talked about this before and keep bringing it up because the issue continues. Performing against the league’s best remains a problem for the Jets who have gone just 2-6-1 against teams in a playoff spot as of Wednesday morning. Luckily for the team, it’s had one of the easier schedules in the NHL and has made hay with it.

No doubt the ability to stay sharp against lesser opponents is key to a successful season, but the frequency with which Winnipeg is being outdone by quality teams has been a little too consistent and needs to be shored up.

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