When you have more than 40 per cent of your team’s goals in a five-game stretch, and your team has seven out of a possible 10 points, you know you’re on an absolute tear.
Scheifele Has Rediscovered Goal-Scoring Touch
The man on that tear is Mark Scheifele, who has seven goals in the five games since the Jets returned to action from the All-Star break. His most recent performance was his best, as he scored a natural hat trick in the span of only 10:47 in a 6-3 win over the Minnesota Wild.
In that five-game span, he also has four assists, for 11 points. No one in the NHL has more points than him since the All-Star break, and line-mate and Jets’ captain Blake Wheeler is in second place with 10 (two goals, eight assists.)
No One Needed of a Second-Half Reset Than Scheifele
The first half of Mark Scheifele’s 2021-22 campaign was, in two words, uncharacteristically bad. While his point totals were respectable, his overall game left a lot to be desired.
He got off to an exceedingly slow start, with just two goals in his first sixteen games. Through December and January, looked lazy and uninterested, with glaring turnovers his poor defensive-zone play hurting the team. Interim head coach Dave Lowry even stapled the alternate captain to the bench in dying minutes of a couple of close games, sending Scheifele a message that he needed to pick up his game.
There were even some suggestions — from this author included — that the Jets’ first-ever draft pick in 2011 and a core member of the team ever since could be traded while his value is still high and his contract is reasonable.
Scheifele acknowledged before the Jets’ frenetic February began that he needed to be better and has seems to have received Dave Lowry’s message in a big way. He has been dynamic, engaged, and hardworking, whereas before, he appeared to be gripping his stick hard enough to snap it. He looks loose, and more importantly, like he’s having fun again. The frown he wore frequently in the first half of the season has been replaced more often with a smile.
Southern Trip Did Scheifele World of Good
Whatever was getting him down — not being able to go to the Olympics, pressure to outperform Pierre-Luc Dubois and keep his number-one centre role, lingering malaise from his COVID-19 infection in October, or sometime else entirely — a trip out of frigid, snowy Winnipeg helped him reset and recalibrate.
“I just went down south and got some sun, played some golf, and spent some time with some buddies,” Scheifele said, after his three goal performance, on what he did during the seven days the Jets were off.
“It was a nice refresher. Obviously, the start of the year was a little funky, with COVID, all of the restrictions, that kind of stuff, and it’s been nice coming back,” he continued, going on to say that 100 per cent fan capacity allowed in Canada Life Centre again is also a big factor.
“You knew it was going to come for him,” Cole Perfetti said. “You see how many chances he creates, how many he gets each game. It’s only a matter of time and now it’s coming in waves. We need that for our team. We need a guy like Scheifele to score for us and do that every single night. We’ve been successful after that break and he’s a big reason for that.”
Cole Perfetti on Mark Scheifele
Scheifele’s Success Will Equal Team Success Going Forward
Perfetti is right. The Jets need Scheifele to play as he has for five games for the rest of the season if they want to capture the second Western Conference Wild Card spot and avoid a costly lost season. They are currently five points out of that spot.
Scheifele is not the only straw that stirs the Jets’ offensive drink, but when he’s scoring clutch goals, tuned into the action, and not being liability in the defensive zone, they stand a much better chance of leaving any given game two points. Scheifele has points in 25 games this season, and the Jets are 14-6-5 when he records a point, and have just seven wins combined in the 16 games he’s been held of the scoresheet and the six games he’s missed.
Declan Schroeder is a 26-year-old communications specialist and freelance journalist in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He holds a diploma in Creative Communications with a major in journalism from Red River College and a bachelors in Rhetoric and Communications from the University of Winnipeg.
Deeply rooted in the city’s hockey culture, the original Jets skipped town when he was two and the 2.0 version came onto the scene when he was 17.
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