ST. LOUIS, MI - Less than 24 hours after closing out their three-game road trip in Columbus, Mark Scheifele and Connor Hellebuyck arrived in St. Louis for the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend.
The duo's first order of business was media night. The Jets are sitting on the outside looking in on a playoff spot with 51 games finished on their schedule but Scheifele thinks they have accomplished a lot.
"Us included, we were unsure of how this year was going to go. Losing as many guys (as we did) you never know the chemistry," said Scheifele.
"I think we've done a great job of battling with each other and battling as a team. You know, bringing these new guys into our room and making them feel welcome. A lot of guys have stepped into a real key role and we're in a good spot right now. We're in the hunt and that's all you can ask for. You just have to keep battling."
Video: ALL-STAR | Mark Scheifele
For the time being, Scheifele wants to take in the experience much like he did last year in San Jose - including chatting with some of his fellow All-Stars.
"Some guys I know, some guys I don't know as much. There are so many smart hockey minds in this room," said Scheifele.
"I think that's the coolest thing. You get to pick their brain a little bit, you get to talk about their year, you get to hear about their experiences. I think that's my biggest take out of it and just enjoying the moment, enjoy it with your family and your friends and try and soak it all up."
Scheifele admitted that he likes to pick the brain of Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane the most, but with the busy schedule ahead on Friday and Saturday, he wishes there was more time.
"Sometimes you feel like you go from place to place to place and you'd like a little more time to talk shop or a little more time to connect with someone," said Scheifele.
"But there will be more time in the days coming. Just getting here today, you're going place to place but in the next few days there will be a little more time in the dressing room. It'll be awesome."
Earlier today, the Pro Hockey Writers Association released their Midseason Award winners and to no one's surprise Connor Hellebuyck is their choice as the Vezina Trophy winner. Hellebuyck has been the story for the Jets heading into All-Star Weekend, leading the NHL in shutouts (4) and sitting fourth in wins with 21.
He has also been the busiest goaltender in the league and because of that Paul Maurice gave him the night off in the Jets final game in Columbus last night. Even though Hellebuyck will have a full schedule this weekend in St. Louis, he still feels it's a break from the grind.
"I'm going to turn the brain off and put my mind on hold," said Hellebuyck.
"I like where my games at and I want to continue to get better and I want to continue with the energy that I'm playing with. I'm going to take a moment and relax and build up some energy and really force it on the ice."
Video: ALL-STAR | Connor Hellebuyck
Two years ago, Hellebuyck was outstanding. He was named a Vezina Trophy finalist and a second team All-Star but the Michigan product thinks he's playing even better this season.
"I just feel way more balanced and patient in my game. I just feel on top of my game a lot more and I feel way more consistent." said Hellebuyck.
NO CONCERN FOR HELLY
As good as Hellebuyck has been it wasn't enough for the Jets who have struggled since the start of 2020. TSN hockey analyst Jamie McLennan feels that while the numbers have dipped as of late, no one should be worried about Hellebuyck's play when the Jets get back on the ice at the end of the month.
"Less is more sometimes. I'm not worried about him one bit. I'm defending him right now in a sense where it's the Midseason Awards and he should be winning the Vezina right now," said McLennan.
"People are saying he's had a tough stretch. Guess what? Go back and take a look at any of these goalies that are ranked in the top ten and look at any stretch they've had during the season. At one point between November 1st and December 15th, he was unreal. We were talking about him potentially being up in the conversation for the Hart (Trophy), he was that good. You don't forget how to play. This is why the season is a marathon not a sprint. I'm not worried about him, it is a little bit of a rough road right now but he's so talented, he's so competitive."