WINNIPEG - For nearly three years the Winnipeg Jets have been working on Patrik Laine's all round game - teaching him how he can be an effective player even when he doesn't score.
Tuesday night in St. Louis, all the hard work Laine and the Jets have been doing paid off. Laine didn't score- ending his playoff goal streak at three games - but the other parts of his game were excellent. Just ask head coach Paul Maurice
"Game 4 was the best game he has played as a Winnipeg Jet," saidMaurice ahead of Thursday's Game 5.
"You look at the coaching parts, the body positioning, the battles, the physicality, protecting the puck. Whether there are nights where it goes in or it doesn't. That can't be the only thing that you do. But the game that he played (Tuesday night) was the most developed game he played as a Winnipeg Jet."
Video: PREGAME | Paul Maurice
The Blues have been a fun opponent for Laine this season with his career high five-goal game against them back in November. In total, he has nine tallies against St. Louis in eight meetings including the postseason. With that in mind, Maurice hopes there will be more of the Finn from Game 3 and 4 than the other six games with the Blues in 2018-19.
"One of the things (about Laine) is that he has a very high hockey IQ. He gets frustrated when he doesn't score but that he understands how good he was the last two nights is the most important thing," said Maurice.
"Not that the coach is telling him or the video showing him that he was. I don't know what he's going to score, he's going to score between 30 and 80 maybe each year. But that game he played the other night is makes him a good player every single night."
80 goals? Maurice was being facetious. But when it comes to the 20-year-old, who really knows the ceiling.
Video: WPG@STL, Gm3: Trouba, Laine connect to put Jets ahead
As for Laine, he understands the Blues awareness of him and where he is on the ice as one part of their game plan. He also knows he's going to have to work harder to find space to score as the series continues.
"Yeah it's always a challenge especially in the playoffs because you are playing the same team and if you score a couple they are going to play you tighter," said Laine ahead of Game 4.
"But you have to just find new ways to score. I'll just try to get physical, lose my guy and try to be open for a pass."
As for the improvement in his all round game Laine can't think of one particular moment or game that he can pin down as the turning point.
"I feel like I'm a better player than I was last year and that was my expectation for myself before this season," said Laine.
"I obviously didn't score as many goals and points as last year but I'm still feel like I'm a better player this year when the season ended than I was last year. I reached my expectation for this year but the season is still not over so we'll see after the season is done."