Laine got off to a strong start with four goals and six points in the first seven games of the season but has since quieted down as he searches for ways to get back on track.
“My confidence is not up again but I just try to work hard every shift,” Laine told reporters following his team’s practice Friday. “It doesn’t matter what your confidence level is. Just work hard and do those simple things on the ice and do those winning little things on the ice.”
The Tampere, Finland native is fourth on the Jets in scoring with 17 points in 25 contests and is on pace for 36 goals, which would equal his total from last season.
In the past six games he has just one goal, one assist and is averaging only 14:42 of ice time, down from the 16:54 he had averaged through the first 19 games of the season. Laine was stumped when asked what his coach, Paul Maurice, might want him to do to get out of his slump.
“That’s a good question,” he said. “I’m not deciding [how much ice time I get]. I’m just going on the ice every time they want me to go but I’m trying to work hard every shift and earn some more ice time.”
Maurice had a relaxed demeanour when addressing the 19-year-old sniper’s dry spell.
“There’s things in his game that I think he can get better at. One of them is relaxing a little bit, and then going as hard as he can shift after shift and not worrying about being the guy who scores every shift every night,” Maurice said. “It’s not all on him to do that. He’s gone three games without a point. When Mark [Scheifele] went three games without a point it didn’t bother him a whole lot. Just breathe deep, relax, play hard and have fun.”
Laine being hard on himself is not a new trend.
“I feel like I can’t do many positive things on the ice. The team is winning, that’s always good but it would be nice to help the team,” Laine said during a four-game pointless streak in late October. “It doesn’t matter to me if I’m not scoring or not. But just overall I can’t produce many good things on the ice, it doesn’t matter if it’s offensively or defensively.”
The good news for Laine and Jets fans is the last time the winger opened up about being down on himself he went on a five-game goal-scoring streak in early November.
The Jets host the Golden Knights Friday and the Senators Sunday before embarking on a three-game road trip next week against the Red Wings, Panthers and Lightning.