Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Jets Centre Mark Scheifele Soaring to New Playoff Heights for Winnipeg

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Jets Centre Mark Scheifele Soaring to New Playoff Heights for Winnipeg

Article excerpt

Jets' Scheifele soaring to new heights

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WINNIPEG - Mark Scheifele experienced last season's NHL playoffs from his couch.

Some 12 months later, the Jets centre is one of the star attractions.

Scheifele leads the post-season goal race with a gaudy 12 in 13 games, setting a new NHL record with seven on the road in a single series in Winnipeg's hard-fought victory against the Nashville Predators in the second round.

He then added another at home on Saturday in a 4-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights to open the Western Conference final.

"It's fun watching big-time players play in big games," Scheifele said of sitting at home last spring.

Now he's the one that has people turning their heads.

The 25-year-old Scheifele and linemate Blake Wheeler entered Sunday tied with 18 points to top the list of players still active in the post-season, while his other winger -- rookie Kyle Connor -- has two goals and six assists.

"It's just unreal," Jets centre Bryan Little said of Scheifele's contribution. "He's done everything you could ask of him."

That includes going up against the opposition's No. 1 line, producing on the power plays and killing penalties.

"Honestly with Mark, you're never really surprised with what he's able to do," said Winnipeg defenceman Josh Morrissey, who's also having an outstanding playoffs. "He works so hard on his game. He has such high aspirations for where he wants to get to. He's never satisfied.

"He's just been able to constantly go to another level. The bigger the game, the better he plays."

But that ascension didn't happen overnight.

Like his team, it was a slow process that required patience.

Selected seventh overall in the 2011 draft -- Winnipeg's first pick after moving from Atlanta -- Scheifele was twice sent back to junior before finally sticking in 2013-14.

His offensive numbers increased steadily year after year, culminating with 32 goals and 50 assists in 79 games last season, but the Jets missed the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons.

"You always expect a lot out of yourself, you want strive for the best," Scheifele said. "That's what I try to do every day, do whatever it takes to get better at this game, do better for my team. …

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