The Winnipeg Jets have been a different team as of late, and that doesn’t come without improved play of some of the teams’ players.
One of those is Mark Scheifele. Although still a rookie, he has become a nightly contributor for the squad, putting his name back in Calder Trophy conversation.
Scheifele currently centers the Jets’ second line with Blake Wheeler and the injured Evander Kane (substituted by Chris Thorburn). He has four points in his last five games, as the Jets have won four out of five, and eight out of their last 10 games. In that span, Scheifele has nine points.
The 2011 first-round draft pick is now third in rookie scoring with 32 points, eight behind Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon, who holds the lead in that category. Scheifele might not have the highest scoring totals, but the 16:20 of average TOI Scheifele puts up each game is hard-fought and often game-changing.
Scheifele has great puck protection, and can wheel around the offensive zone before unloading a quick shot or a good pass. He is strong on his feet, making him a great body to be in front of the net at 6 feet 2 inches. In the neutral zone, he always gets the puck in deep, and uses his quick feet to unleash a ferocious forecheck on the opposing defencemen.
Before Paul Maurice took over the Jets, and they had their subsequent success, Scheifele was a staple on the team’s third line. He says that it helped build him as a player and is a key part of where he is today. Scheifele is a great 200-foot players, and can come up big in the defensive end with a key faceoff win or takeaway just as easily as creating offense.
Scheifele knows there is a long way to go ahead, and the Olympic break will be instrumental in giving the youngster the rest he needs as he heads in to the final stretch of his first full 82-game season. Jets fans hope that he can rise to the top of the rookie scoring race by the end of the season, as it means their team has a good shot at making the post-season.
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