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Training Camp

Laine: Only reaching playoffs will make me happy

Jets forward, entering second NHL season, says individual success 'doesn't matter'

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / Staff Writer

WINNIPEG -- Patrik Laine will only be happy this season if the Winnipeg Jets qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"It doesn't matter if I'm going to score 50 goals, if the team is not going to make the playoffs and I score 50 goals, I'm not happy," the right wing said at the opening of training camp Friday. "If I'm going to score 10 goals and the team makes the playoffs, of course I will be excited. I'll be thrilled. That's what I think."

Laine had 64 points (36 goals, 28 assists) in 73 games as a rookie last season. He finished second to Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews in scoring among rookies and in voting for the Calder Trophy, given to the NHL rookie of the year.

However, the Jets missed the playoffs, finishing seven points behind the Nashville Predators for the second wild card from the Western Conference.

The 19-year-old said his second NHL season undoubtedly will bring more attention from opponents.

"I guess everybody knows me and what I can do," Laine said. "I just need to be better. The opponents will be next to me always and during the power play they will kind of be standing next to me kind of like they do with Ovi (Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin). So I will need to find more space and try to do some new tricks on the ice so I can get that space and maybe a couple of goals."

Center Mark Scheifele does not believe such attention will deter Laine.

"It's just what you have to deal with when you're as good as he is," Scheifele said. "I think he's a guy who's handled it really well. He handled it last year and he's a legend over in Finland so he dealt with it playing [professionally] over there.

"I think we have a good support system around him to help him through those times, but he's got a good head on his shoulders, and I think that extra attention and extra pressure is just going to help him thrive and be extra motivated to do as well as he can."

Video: Patrik Laine ranked as No. 8 on list of Top 20 Wings

Laine did not fade offensively when opponents focused on him more as last season went on. He scored 21 goals in 41 games in the first half, and 15 goals in 32 games in the second half, when he missed nine games (eight because of a concussion, one with an illness).

"How he sees guys on the ice, that's great vision," forward Mathieu Perreault said. "He's not just a shooter. He's got the whole package.

"You just have to be a special player to do that. It's a gift. It's not something you really work on, that you show up at 18 and do that. He's a really smart guy and that helps him a lot, and being a big guy … his size helps him. Being 6-foot-5 is always an advantage in most sports. He's an overall great player."

Laine, the No. 2 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, wasn't on the ice much during training this offseason, most of which was spent at home in Tampere, Finland. He said he skated six or seven times before returning to Winnipeg for training camp.

"From May to June, I didn't go on the ice," Laine said. "I wanted to get a break and be excited to go on the ice again after the summer. I did work out a lot and played a lot of golf, tried to get relaxed."

He said the goal for his daily gym time was improving his strength and his quickness.

"I spent a lot of time in the gym trying to be stronger and a lot of sprints and not a lot of cardio running, just the sprints," he said. "I'm trying to get faster. I think that was my main focus for the summer."

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