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Expectations, Perceptions, and Slumps

How can the Winnipeg Jets pull themselves out of their goal-scoring slump?

Winnipeg Jets v Vegas Golden Knights - Game Four Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Patrik Laine has played like this before and he has pulled out of it. He has looked like he cannot win a battle for the life of him and has gone on to score 44 goals and 70 points. This has happened to Laine before and it will happen to him again. These slumps and drops in play are normal for any player and it is only a matter of time before he gets himself out of it.

Laine has struggled to start this season, but he did last season as well and that turned out just fine. Elite players go through slumps all the time. The difference for Laine this season is the Jets have not looked good at all. The team has looked discombobulated for most of the year and it is biting them in the butt. Last year they goalied their way out of this, but this year that is not working.

A couple weeks ago, Murat Ates at The Athletic tweeted about how the Jets should want to see Kyle Connor away from Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler. Connor has been a lot more vital to that line this season, especially with Wheeler not looking like the Wheeler of old this year. How does this apply to Laine? Laine found success in his rookie year on a line with Scheifele. Maybe that duo can find success again.

Paul Maurice has hit the line blender hard. He has been tinkering with them for a couple games now to varying results. One of the upsides of the line blender is you sometimes can stumble upon a great line or duo. However, excessive tinkering does not allow for players to learn about how they read the game and start making reads that compliment their linemates.

Again, applying this to Laine and his struggles is hard. While Maurice rightfully changed up his lines, he has not moved Wheeler from Scheifele. Almost every other forward has moved around and yet Wheeler, who has looked discombobulated all year, from the first line. Many moons ago Wheeler and Bryan Little, who looks like a new man, had much success together on the Little/Ladd/Wheeler line. LLW was a staple for the Jets until Ladd was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks. Maybe Wheeler can benefit from reuniting with his old running mate.

Without touching the Adam Lowry line, which might find more offensive success with Mathieu Perreault, the Jets probably hold the solutions to their offensive struggles on their roster. They have Nic Petan in the press box and he might be the answer to the Jack Roslovic struggles at centre. You can then move Roslovic to wing and then have Brendan Lemieux stay on the other wing (or Brandon Tanev) and have Perreault on the Lowry line. That could very well help the bottom six.

The top six has a fascinating combination of players to work with and tinker with combinations for. I would recommend finding good duos and then swapping out wingers when needed. Maybe something like:

Laine/Scheifele/Connor

Ehlers/Little/Wheeler

Before you yell at me that Connor is not a right wing, forward is becoming a more fluid position and it would only be when lining up for a face-off. This would also be placing Laine in a position to succeed. The same goes for Nikolaj Ehlers, who has looked good with Little in the past. When you have skilled players, play them with skill and allow them to play through their struggles instead of punishing them and making them grind their way out of it.

The Jets do not look good this year. There are roughly a million things wrong with them and it is hard to pinpoint one way to fix the Jets. Patrik Laine has been pinned as the problem and yet he is one of many who look off. Without making a coaching change, the Jets have to look internally and make changes to their line up and how they use their players. They can pull out of this and they have to do it soon.