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Mark Scheifele has high expectations for himself, Jets

Center wants to improve on breakout season, get Winnipeg back in playoffs

by Aaron Vickers / NHL.com Correspondent

COLOGNE -- Center Mark Scheifele has high expectations for himself, and for the Winnipeg Jets.

Scheifele, who led the Jets and finished seventh in NHL scoring with 82 points (32 goals, 50 assists) in 79 games this season, expects improvement out of each in 2017-18.

"We've just got to not be satisfied," said Scheifele, who had a goal and an assist, and was named Canada's player of the game in a 2-1 win against Germany on Thursday in the quarterfinals at the 2017 IIHF World Championship. "We have to always push for more, always push to become a better player and a better team, and that's the biggest thing."

 

[RELATED: Morriseey hopes to build off breakout year for Jets]

 

It was a year of growth for Scheifele, and a year of growing pains for the Jets.

Winnipeg finished 40-35-7 and failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a second straight season and the fifth time in six years, but Scheifele, 24, grew into one of the League's most dangerous offensive threats.

He'll continue to be an important fixture in turning the Jets into a perennial playoff team.

"He's the type of guy that's always trying to get better, so I think for him, his ceiling, he probably doesn't see one," said defenseman Josh Morrissey, who is a teammate of Scheifele's on the Jets and Canada. "He works so hard. He loves the game and loves to work on his game, so obviously being a teammate of his is a lot of fun. It's fun to play with him, watch his development and growth, but for him, I mean he just keeps getting better.

"I don't really think there's a ceiling for him. When a guy cares about the game and works that hard, you want to see him succeed. It's fun to watch how well he's doing."

Video: WPG@CBJ: Scheifele kicks puck to stick and scores

Scheifele has shown that for Canada. He is fourth in team scoring with seven points (two goals, five assists) in eight games.

It's a continuation, suggested Canada coach Jon Cooper, of what he saw from the young forward when they worked together as members of Team North America at the World Cup of Hockey 2016.

"For me, you don't get to appreciate a lot of these players who play in the [Western Conference] because I don't get to see them," said Cooper, who also is coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning. "I really got to appreciate him at the World Cup. You don't know where guys slot in and he ended up sliding in, on one of the most talented teams you'll ever see, into the top line. He can play all situations. I was really excited when I saw he committed to play with us."

Scheifele, counted on as part of a young core with Morrissey, right wing Patrik Laine, who is a Calder Trophy finalist, and forward Nikolaj Ehlers, feels there's still plenty of room to progress.

For himself and for the Jets.

Video: WPG@STL: Scheifele beats Allen on rebound attempt

"Tons. This is a sport where innovation is a must," said Scheifele, who won gold with Canada at the tournament in Russia last year. "You have to get better and better each and every year. You see the best players in the world, [Sidney] Crosby, [Connor] McDavid, [Jonathan] Toews, they all try to get better and better every year, because with young guys coming in, it only gets faster and more skilled.

"You've got to continue to grow as a team and as a player as well."

Russia 3, Czech Republic 0: Andrei Vasilevskiy (Lightning) made 23 saves and Russia advanced to the semifinals against Canada on Saturday with a victory at AccorHotels Arena in Paris.

Defenseman Dmitry Orlov (Washington Capitals) scored 8:45 into the game to give Russia a 1-0 lead. Nikita Kucherov (Lightning) scored a power-play goal at 13:36 to make it 2-0, and Artemi Panarin (Chicago Blackhawks) gave Russia a 3-0 lead when he scored at 13:55 of the third period.

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