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Central Intelligence: Oct. 28, 2016

Rookie forward Patrik Laine off to a hot start for Winnipeg

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com

Wild.com's Dan Myers takes a look around the Central Division two weeks into the 2016-17 season.

While much of the early attention around the NHL has been on Toronto Maple Leafs rookie Auston Matthews, there is another first-year player making waves. 

Winnipeg Jets forward Patrik Laine has as many goals as Matthews but has maintained a more consistent pace through the first two weeks of the season.

Laine, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft (after Matthews), has already made a big impression with his home fans. All six of Laine's goals have come on home ice as Winnipeg has gotten off to a 3-4-0 start overall. He scored twice in a big 4-1 victory over defending Central Division champion Dallas.

"He's just used to scoring goals," Jets coach Paul Maurice said, according to the Winnipeg Sun. "He does it so often. He's a spectacular shooter for sure."

With Laine, along with fellow youngsters Kyle Connor, Connor Hellebuyck and Nikolaj Ehlers -- among others -- the future is bright in Manitoba. The future is also now.

"Our young guys are really good," Jets captain Blake Wheeler told the Sun. "Calling [the win over Dallas on Thursday] a statement game is overshooting it a little bit. They've been really good this entire time. It's just building confidence for these guys and the faster they get their confidence up, the better team we're going to be."
 

An early 'Wake-up Call'?

The Nashville Predators were a trendy pick to represent the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup Finals this season. 

And while there is still plenty of time to turn things around, the Predators were dealt an embarrassing 6-1 loss at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night. At 2-4-1, the Predators entered play on Friday in last place in the Central Division.

"We have to find a way to do those key things to winning and having success in this league consistently," Predators defenseman P.K. Subban told The Tennessean. "I think right now we're having moments where we're doing it, but we're not doing it consistently enough. It's showing right now, and I think this game's a huge wakeup call for us."
 

Early season layoff for Colorado

While the Wild is already eight games into the season, the Colorado Avalanche have played just five entering the day Friday. After a 5-2 loss to the Florida Panthers on Oct. 22, the Avalanche have had six days to stew on it while watching other teams in the Central pass them by in the standings.

While the (almost) week off might have come better served later in the season, the time away did allow the Avs and first-year head coach Jared Bednar a chance to continue working on the basics.

"Hopefully we got rested," Bednar told the Denver Post. "We were able to continue with all of our system work and spent some time on special teams - power play and penalty kill -- and we actually went through almost everything in our systems."

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