WINNIPEG – Mark Scheifele is familiar with this unwritten rule and he was more than happy to oblige.
That first rule of being a goal scorer riding a full-on heater is to deflect praise and pass the credit to your linemates.
The Winnipeg Jets centre tossed in a few comments about changing to a tinted visor and how soaking in some sun and spending some time on the golf course have helped put him in a better head space, but Scheifele wasn’t about to offer up any trade secrets after racking up three goals and four points in a 6-3 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday night.
When you’ve nearly doubled your goal production during a five-game block, it’s best to not run the risk of putting an unintentional hex on yourself by lapping up the praise.
It wasn’t long ago that the talk around Scheifele centred around a slow start and a rather disjointed first half of the season, but that narrative has changed quickly -- and for good reason.
When this space was used to describe the importance of Scheifele coming out of the NHL All-Star break looking refreshed and being the best version of himself, this is precisely why the spotlight was on him.
When he’s at his best, Scheifele has an innate ability to impact the game and to drive the Jets’ offence.
Wednesday was one of those nights, as Scheifele supplied the fifth hat trick of his career against a Central Division rival.
Scheifele has scored in each of the past five games, producing seven goals and adding four assists for 11 points.
That offensive eruption has Scheifele right where he’s expected to be: back on track to be a point-per-game player for a sixth consecutive season.
Of course, there is more to the game than scoring goals and piling up points, but Scheifele has proven to be an elite offensive weapon throughout the course of his career.
For a variety of reasons, Scheifele wasn’t performing up to his high standard during the first 42 games.
Going six games without a goal and having only 10 markers through 42 games led some to wonder what was wrong with Scheifele.
Where was the engagement, especially when playing without the puck in the defensive zone?
What would it take to get things turned around?
Well, Scheifele has answered those questions with his on-ice performance.
Suddenly, he’s third in goal scoring behind Kyle Connor, who scored his team-leading 27th on Wednesday, and Pierre-Luc Dubois (who has 20) and second in points, reaching 40 points in 41 games.
Scheifele’s longtime running mate, Jets captain Blake Wheeler, has also played a role in this dramatic turnaround.
Wheeler had four assists on Wednesday and has 10 points in the past five games.
Despite being sidelined with a knee injury that kept him out of the lineup for a longer stretch than at any point in his 14-year career, Wheeler has undergone an offensive awakening that has him nearing point-per-game production (30 in 33 games).
“Well, Blake looks like he’s back to his old self. He’s comfortable with the puck, he’s making plays,” said Jets interim head coach Dave Lowry. “They’ve played a lot of games together. They know where each other is going to be.”
Scheifele and Wheeler also know what is required of them in terms of level of play in order for the Jets to get where they ultimately want to be.
For the record, that’s not being a team sitting below the playoff line with three teams to leapfrog.
Scheifele’s line (with Paul Stastny) scored four times against the Wild, with the Dubois trio with Cole Perfetti and Connor adding a pair.
Count Perfetti among those impressed by what Scheifele has been doing lately.
Listening to him talk on Wednesday, you get the sense Perfetti thought Scheifele was due for this breakout before it actually took place.
“He’s hot. The first 10 games I was here before the break, he was getting all of the chances, they just kind of weren’t going in the net,” said Perfetti. “Now, he’s picking corners and getting a little bit of puck luck. That’s what everyone needs, a little bit of puck luck, for the bounces to go your way. You knew it was going to come for him.
“You see how many chances he creates, how many he gets each game. It’s only a matter of time and now it’s coming in waves. We need that for our team. We need a guy like Scheifele to score for us and do that every single night. We’ve been successful after that break and he’s a big reason for that.”
For the record, nobody was encouraging Perfetti to drop the gloves to secure his first Gordie Howe hat trick.
“No. That’s not really my game,” Perfetti said with a smile. “No one is saying that.”
Sure, this was another night when the Jets were a bit top heavy, but when the stars lead the way, sometimes a team can survive without much secondary scoring.
The Jets wrapped up a stretch of five consecutive games against Central Division opponents with a record of 3-1-1.
For all of the talk about the Jets needing to win at least three of five games over eight consecutive blocks -- and chip in some bonus points by getting the game to extra time -- this first stretch will be regarded as a success, despite Monday’s 3-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Never mind the rose-coloured glasses talk, the Wild have lost just twice in regulation over the past 14 games (11-2-1) and both of those losses came to the Jets during the past eight days.
Winnipeg also won the four-game season series, finishing 2-1-1 -- an impressive turnaround when you consider the Jets allowed 13 goals during the first two meetings, including a 7-1 drubbing back on Nov. 26.
But as the Jets get set to continue a four-game homestand and face the Seattle Kraken on Thursday night, there is at least one question mark regarding the lineup as forward Andrew Copp left the game after taking a shot to the head from Wild forward Jordan Greenway late in the third period.
Lowry didn’t have an immediate update, but it would not be a surprise if Copp -- who left the ice under his own power but went immediately down the tunnel with just under four minutes remaining and didn’t return -- missed some time in concussion protocol.
After watching Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck start six consecutive games, the expectation is that backup Eric Comrie will be called upon to make his eighth start and ninth appearance of the season between the pipes.
Comrie was excellent in his most recent meeting against the St. Louis Blues on Jan. 29, making 28 saves, and this is one of those times when he needs to give Hellebuyck a breather and provide his team with a chance to win.
The Jets enter Thursday's action just five points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference standings, but the only way they’ll improve that position is if they find a way to win consecutive games for the first time since early January.