Big Stanmaking his mark

Logan Stanley doesn’t really have a nickname preference. Stanzilla. Big Stan. Stanimal. Take your pick.

“I like the Spanish version, Stanimalé,” defence partner and team jokester Nate Schmidt cracked following Friday’s morning skate.

<p>Fred Greenslade / THE CANADIAN PRESS files</p>
<p>After missing several games as a healthy scratch, Jets defenceman Logan Stanley has been playing some of the best hockey of his career.</p>
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Fred Greenslade / THE CANADIAN PRESS files

After missing several games as a healthy scratch, Jets defenceman Logan Stanley has been playing some of the best hockey of his career.

“I can’t keep track of them all, but they all make me laugh,” admitted Stanley.

Point is, feel free to refer to the towering defenceman however you want these days. He’s just happy coach Dave Lowry is calling his number every game, following a recent stretch in which he found himself in the press box as a healthy scratch.

“Obviously as a competitor you never want to get taken out of any lineup regardless of the league or where you’re playing,” Stanley, 23, said prior to suiting up for a seventh straight outing, this time against the Boston Bruins

“You’re definitely frustrated but I was happy for Beau (Nathan Beaulieu) that he came in and played well. He deserved it. He was hurt and scratched and just how hard he worked every day and how positive he was, that was great for him and then I think older guys like (Schmidt) and Dilly (Brenden Dillon) and Scheif (Mark Scheifele), those guys really helped me out, just staying positive and working on stuff in practice. That’s the biggest thing, just to stay ready because you never know when you’re going to get that chance.”

Opportunity came knocking when Beaulieu suffered his latest in a long list of injuries on March 4 against Dallas, and Stanley was back in the lineup. And he’s made the most of it recently, coming off perhaps his best game as a pro on Tuesday night against Vegas when he had a beautiful goal, a nifty assist, and a big scrap for his first Gordie Howe hat-trick in the NHL.

“I think it’s a huge game personally for me, for confidence and knowing that I can have games like that that help our team win,” said Stanley, who was named first star for his efforts. “Fortunately enough, it was a big game and we needed those two points and I was able to help. It was definitely a good feeling for me.”

The 6-7 Stanley is at his best when he’s moving his feet, something his coach has noticed him doing more of lately since coming off a bout with COVID and a nagging minor injury that has fully healed.

“That’s the key for Stan, is when he’s moving his feet he usually makes that first play. And he’s usually quick to close. And usually when he’s quick to close he’s physical,” said Lowry, who credited the 2016 first-round draft pick for facing adversity like a seasoned pro.

“I thought he was outstanding in the way that he handled it. He was disappointed that he wasn’t playing. But he got himself back up to speed, and he worked. He did a lot of extra work. I don’t think you realize for big guys coming back into the lineup and missing time in the year, and the speed of the game, sometimes it takes them a little bit of time. And he’s back up to speed.”

As Lowry put it, Stanley wasn’t “on the radar” to make the Jets prior to the abbreviated 2021 season, but opened plenty of eyes in a strong rookie season (one goal, three assists, plus-13 in 37 regular-season games, then two goals, one assist in eight playoff games). Stanley, who had one goal and 12 helpers in 46 games this season prior to facing Boston, follows a simple motto.

“It’s just control what you control,” he said.

“You can control how hard you work in practice every day, you can control how hard you work in the games. Everything else is out of your control. There’s going to be guys coming up trying to take your job every year, just like I did when I was coming up. Definitely just control what you can control and you’ve got to work has hard as you can every day.”

Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

Mike McIntyre

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