After the dust settled on Sunday night and the Winnipeg Jets knocked off the Dallas Stars by a final score of 4-2, one thing was clear: Patrik Laine belongs among the league’s best scorers.
The Jets are pretty much entrenched in second place in the Central Division, with a 43-19-10 record to show for their efforts. They’ve been playing good hockey, but Laine is another matter altogether.
On Sunday, the 19-year-old sniped two goals and positioned himself atop the NHL’s leaderboard in a tie with Alex Ovechkin.
Both have 43 goals.
It’s not enough for Laine, who’ll try to outdo his boyhood idol when the Jets take on the Los Angeles Kings Tuesday.
“Like I’ve said before, maybe a week ago, I don’t want to be tied [with Ovechkin],” he said Sunday. “I want to take the solo lead and I’ll try to do that next game.”
Laine’s point streak now sits at 15 games, which is the longest active run in the league and the longest point streak by a teenager.
Laine is the real deal and that goes without saying, but this new Finnish flash belongs in the conversation along with the East’s Sidney Crosby and Ovechkin and the West’s Connor McDavid.
Laine has a total of 68 points this season in 72 games. 19 of his 43 goals are power play goals.
Last season, he had 64 points in 73 games. He managed 36 goals and 28 assists.
That’s 132 points in 145 games. He’s one goal shy of 80 on his career. Already.
Granted, McDavid is already rolling at above a point-per-game average. He had 48 points in his rookie season, which was shortened due to injury. His sophomore season sat him at 100 points. He’s sitting at 80 goals in 199 games as of press time.
Ovechkin, too, was well at a point-per-game when he began his career. He scored 52 goals in his rookie season and followed up with 46 goals in his sophomore season. In his first 163 games, Ovechkin had 198 points.
Crosby was also a point-per-game or higher to begin his career. In his 2005-2006 rookie season, he put up 102 points in 81 games. In his first two seasons, Crosby had 75 goals.
Looking at Laine compared to the greats, it’s clear that he belongs in the big picture. He is among the purest goal-scorers playing the modern game and he’ll be a blast to watch when the barn opens in April. With his Jets playing energetic hockey and Laine making the most of his chances, look for a career-defining performance in the post-season.