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Season of growth for Laine and Ehlers

Laine: "That's probably some of the best hockey that I've played."

by Jamie Thomas @JamieThomasTV / Winnipeg Jets

WINNIPEG - Like the rest of the team, the season ended far too soon for young stars Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers.

Both suffered injuries in Game 5 of the opening round series against the St. Louis Blues - making their status questionable for what turned out to be Winnipeg's final game of the season.

Ehlers blocked a shot in the final minute of Game 5 and was visibly in distress and during the team's final media availability he provided clarity on his injury. The Danish forward had a micro fracture in his leg and said it was challenging to play on Saturday in St. Louis.

"It did not feel great. We tried a lot of things to make it feel better and it definitely did get a little better but for me it's part of it," said Ehlers who played just over nine minutes.

"Everyone has played with some injuries and I didn't want to sit out, I wanted to play and I wanted to help this team. I don't know what could have happened if we won that game (6) but I wanted to play and they told me I could."

Video: YEAR END | Ehlers, Little, Laine

Ehlers added he won't need surgery in the off-season.

As for Laine, he admitted that he has been dealing with back issues the last couple of seasons. On top of that, he sustained a groin pull in Game 5.

"Game 6 went for the warmup, didn't really know how it was going to react. It felt good enough so I decided to play - and like Nikolaj - tried to help our team to win," said Laine when asked about his availability had the Jets forced Game 7 and moved on.

"You never know how it goes, it can go in a worse direction after a game, it can be a little bit better. But if we would have moved on who knows what it would have felt like. But hopefully would have been able to play, I always want to play and help my team to win."

With his back, Laine said he doesn't view it as an excuse for any times during the season that he struggled. He will spend the summer trying to figure out how to stop this being a long standing issue for his career.

"I think I've worked on it a lot over the past couple of years but just seems like it always comes back, don't know why," said Laine.

"But just try and still take good care of it. It's a long summer and hopefully get a good recovery out of that too and hopefully it's not going to be painful next season."

During the playoffs Laine's all round game started to show the most improvement and even had Paul Maurice saying Game 4 was Laine's best game as a member of the Winnipeg Jets. The 21-year-old felt his game evolved in the postseason.

"That's probably some of the best hockey that I've played. I was obviously able to score in the first three games and overall I was able to help my team win not only with those goals but we were playing good me and my line mates," said Laine.

"We were able to create chances and we were physical on the puck, on the body and we played some good defence too. I was satisfied where my game was at as an individual but obviously as a team it wasn't the result we were looking for."

Now that the Jets season ended so much earlier than people hoped and with the roller coaster ride that the Finn has been on mentally and physically, Laine just wants to head back home and get away from the game.

"I want to forget about hockey because the season is over now. We are not going to play hockey until next year so that's the big reason. I don't want to after this kind of season I don't want to think about it, it ended way too early," said Laine.

"It was a big disappointment for all of us and probably these guys agree we don't want to think about it this past season anymore. I'm just going to go home relax, play some golf, hang out with my friends."

While Laine waits to see how his next contract will turn out, Ehlers played the first of his seven year, 42 million dollar extension. Injuries caused him to miss 20 games and record 37 points. It's safe to say the Danish forward will be more than happy to get back to training.

"Patty likes to go home and not think about hockey at all. I'm a little different. I think about hockey all the time and even now I'm going to go home and I'll think about what I need to do," said Ehlers.

"Take a couple of weeks off and start doing it. So there's a few things that I need to do better and that starts with working out in the summer."

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