Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Late Slump in Standout Rookie Season Frustrates Jets Star Sniper Laine

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Late Slump in Standout Rookie Season Frustrates Jets Star Sniper Laine

Article excerpt

Busy season catching up to Laine

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WINNIPEG - Patrik Laine skated to the bench at Monday's Winnipeg Jets practice and angrily banged his hockey stick on the boards.

The team's rookie sniper is in a scoring slump as the Jets, missing the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons, wind down to their final three games.

"Of course it's frustrating, you just can't score," Laine said. "It's hard right now, to be honest.

"But you just have to work hard to get those chances and hopefully score maybe a couple of points during these last couple games."

It was only a month ago that the 18-year-old Finnish forward was a front-runner in the NHL rookie-scoring race.

But in his last 11 games dating back to March 8, he has three points off two goals and one assist. In the previous 11 outings, he notched 16 points, including nine goals.

Heading into Monday's league action, Laine is second in rookie scoring with 34 goals and 62 points in 70 games. He missed eight games with a concussion and one from illness.

He's surrounded on the stats sheet by players from the Maple Leafs, who take on the Sabres in Buffalo Monday night.

Toronto centre Auston Matthews entered the game atop rookie scoring with 38 goals and 66 points in 77 games. William Nylander is third with 22 goals and 59 points in 76 games and Mitchell Marner has 18 goals and 59 points in 72 outings.

"They're playing well so it's good for them," Laine said. "I'm just focusing on this team and what are we doing here as a team and how can we improve our game still and just how can I be better every night."

Trying to finish in the Top 3 isn't on his agenda as the Jets head out for games Tuesday in St. Louis, Thursday in Columbus and Saturday at home against Nashville.

"After the three games and after the season, I'm going to see where we are at and that's it, that's the result," Laine said. …

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