Photo Credit: © Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Laine’s Back!

As the Winnipeg Jets head through the desert on a western road trip, Laine ended the longest scoring drought of his career. It was a fitting end to his scoring woes as his buddy Ehlers was back in the lineup for the first time since the beginning of January and Laine moved up to the top line with Scheifele and Wheeler in a look that we haven’t seen too often.

Obviously Laine’s trouble’s have been well documented over the past several weeks. If you tuned in to literally any Jets game you would have heard the commentators going on about how Laine’s in a slump and how his body language has been terrible. It was a bit over-bearing at times and part of me just wanted everyone to give Laine a break. He’s still a young kid playing in his third season in the NHL. Obviously he’s not going to score every game and chances are he’s going to have a few droughts now and then.

However, this slump was the worst of his career and even prompted some fans to call him a bust and propose the idea that trading him would be the best course of action.

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While everyone knew that Laine wasn’t actually going to get dealt, there were plenty of fans that were frustrated with the lack of production. Not only had Laine gone 15 games without a goal, but he only had 2 goals in his last 28 games.

Something had to be done, especially now that the Jets were struggling as a whole. Maurice decided to switch up his lines and put Laine on the top line with Scheifele and Wheeler. That seemed like a great first step. As the Jets got ready to face the Golden Knights on Friday, it seemed that Laine was going to have his best chance yet to finally score a goal.

Ironically, it wasn’t Laine who opened the scoring but rather his buddy Nikolaj Ehlers who was playing in his first game back since January 4th. In less than one minute of ice time, Ehlers matched Laine’s goal total for the past month. The internal competition between those two has been fun to watch over the past few seasons and Laine seemed determined to score, not necessarily to break his slump, but to catch Ehlers and not get left in the dust.

This was evident during the game, as Ehlers had a few words with Laine on the bench after Ehlers had already scored and Laine has just missed a chance. It was a playful little jab where Ehlers was surely letting Laine know they had the same amount of goals in the past month. Sometimes the internal competition is more valuable than the external as Laine was fired up after that.

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You could tell that Laine was engaged in the game, especially moments before scoring his first goal. He went into the corner and cross-checked Engelland, before circling back and calling for the puck. It was that intensity in the corner that helped power that shot into the back of the net for Laine’s goal to end the slump.

Of course as soon as Laine tasted the success of scoring, he was ready to get another one. He didn’t have to wait long as the Jets got a 5-3 later in the game and Laine blasted another right through Marc-Andre Fleury for his sixth multi-goal game of the season.

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How did his buddy Ehlers react after seeing Laine finally score?

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It appears that all is now well with Laine. All he needed was his little buddy back in the lineup and a little bit of nastiness sticking up for a teammate. Everyone better watch out because now that Patrik Laine’s back, the sky’s the limit. He’s coming for the scoring title.