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Laine gets All-Star nod, Jets prepare for Canadiens

Winnipeg wraps up two-game home stand tomorrow night

by Mitchell Clinton @MClinton007 / WinnipegJets.com

WINNIPEG, MB - The combination of Monday night's 2-0 win over Calgary, and WWE superstar Brock Lesnar visiting the dressing room postgame, provided plenty of excitement for the Winnipeg Jets.

The good vibes continued Tuesday, when the NHL announced Patrik Laine as an All-Star.

"What a great honour for such a young man. He's earned it. He's such an exciting player to watch," said head coach Paul Maurice. "Certainly a 3-on-3 format would be fun to have him in it. We're hopeful he can go. It very probably won't be his last."

Laine, who leads the Jets in goals (21) and is tied with Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers for the team lead in points (37), got the all-star nod despite being sidelined with a concussion sustained in Saturday's loss to Buffalo.

Prior to the injury, Maurice was impressed with the rookie's play of late. The trio of Laine, Ehlers, and Scheifele combined for 14 points on the team's recent three-game road trip.

"Maybe the most frustrating thing about the injury is the four or five games leading into it, that line, and he especially, his game had made such huge improvements from the start of the year in terms of learning the NHL game," said Maurice. "Hopefully he'll be back soon and he can continue on from there.

Video: PRACTICE | Paul Maurice

"I go back to that quote he had at the very start of the year, that his goal was to make the team. I believe he felt that. He certainly has also a confidence that he can be a great player. He's got some humility in this package of talent. Because of that he's driven to be a better player."

The 2017 NHL All-Star weekend takes place in Los Angeles over the weekend of Jan. 28-29.

But if Maurice had his way, Laine wouldn't be the only Jet heading to Los Angeles for the festivities. Along with Scheifele and Ehlers, the head coach believes Blake Wheeler is an all-star in terms of what he's meant to the Jets this season.

"We're in a block of games with seven guys out of our line-up, and he's playing with Nic Petan at centre and Kyle Connor on the left wing, and we're on the road and we're trying to win games," said Maurice. "Then we played him twice at centre ice in Chicago and St. Louis, and we win both games. In terms of value for us surviving that very difficult stretch, he may have been the most important forward that we had."

Video: PRACTICE | Mathieu Perreault

HOSTING THE HABS

Up next on Winnipeg's schedule is the Montreal Canadiens, who come into Manitoba's capital after a 4-1 loss to Washington at the Bell Centre.

At 20-20-3, the Jets sit on the .500 mark for the ninth time this season. Mathieu Perreault believes it's time for the team to take the next step, string a few wins together, and stay above that .500 line in their hunt for the postseason.

"It's huge this time of the year, we're fighting for playoff position and trying to get into the playoffs. From now on until the end of the year, every game is so important," he said. "It's three of the last four we've won, we're on a little bit of a streak here. We're playing well, so just keep building on that."

Video: PRACTICE | Josh Morrissey

The Jets sit one point back of the Los Angeles Kings for the final wildcard spot in the Western Conference, and closed the gap on the holders of the top wildcard spot, the Calgary Flames, thanks to the 2-0 win over Calgary last night.

Josh Morrissey, who played 18:04 in the victory, said the Jets have had only one period get away from them since the start of 2017.

"Other than that one period in Buffalo that kind of got away from us, it was a really good road trip," Morrissey said of the Tampa Bay, Florida, and Buffalo trip. "To come back here last night against a team that's been playing some good hockey and a team that we're going to be battling with for that playoff spot, it was a big win for us."

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