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Sunday 24th Sep 2017

The 2016 NHL Entry Draft was a deep one, one in which the first ten picks could start out as impact players in their rookie season. Second overall pick Patrik Laine (pronounced Line-Nay) has excelled early on, performing way beyond expectations, and now home in Winnipeg, Laine has hit pay dirt. He is tied for the league lead in goals with Sidney Crosby at 17. The Right Wing has scored 14 of those apples at home, and has been one of the better stories this young season.

Winnipeg is currently barely hanging onto the second Wild Card spot in the West, and sure it’s early, but the way nobody else on the Jets is scoring goals, Laine’s shooting prowess is carrying the team. Laine is currently sitting on a 21.8% shooting percentage, which won’t last, while Captain Blake Wheeler is shooting at 9.8%, which will not last either. Things will begin to balance themselves out as the season rolls on, and this young Jets team is going to be fun to watch over the next five to seven years as the youngsters mature and really learn to play 200 feet of hockey. Some secondary scoring would be a very nice treat as well for Head Coach Paul Maurice’s squad.

Patrik, as mentioned, is tied for first place in goals with Crosby, tied for 12th in points with 25, third in goals created with an 11.4%. He only trails Crosby's 11.7% and league leader Connor McDavid's 13.7%, and is tied for second in power play goals with Ryan Kesler and Shea Weber at seven each. It’s so refreshing to see Laine score as he does with his stick flexing 78 shots, and many other rookies are stepping up already like seasoned veterans instead of 18-year-old kids. This kid also leads the NHL in hat tricks thus far with two, and if the rest of the Jets squad can step up, Laine may have a few more before the All-Star break. Fantasy hockey doesn’t always include all statistical factors into its scoring methodology, but real hockey does, and even with all those goals for the young Finn, his Corsi Rating is at 46.7%, which is not all that special. But I’ll give him a hall pass since he is only 18 years old and probably still has one left from high school, which he graduated a few months ago.

Home cooking is always nice, but winning on the road is what builds character, and there are a few teams with horrid home/road splits. As for home records, nobody tops the New Jersey Devils, who are 8-0-2 at home thus far, and Montreal is a close second at 12-1-1. But now with Alex Galchenyuk and David Desharnias going down for 6-8 weeks, the Habs are going to really need to tighten things up around Carey Price. The New York Rangers haven’t played too shabby either when they lace the skates up at Madison Square Garden with a 10-4-1 record, while Washington is 10-4-0.

The Western Conference has a handful of teams representing the home ice quite well too. Chicago and St. Louis have 12 wins each with the San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators at nine wins each. But as I said above, the road records of many teams are scary. The same 12-1-3 home St. Louis squad is 3-7-1 on the road, and with a team running four good defensemen, a handful of stud forwards and all-world scoring machine Vlad Tarasenko, this is not acceptable.

Nashville should be equally shamed by their home/road splits, 9-2-2 at home with a paltry 3-7-2 road record, which is downright embarrassing for professionals.

For the young Edmonton Oilers team, it’s just the opposite, 8-5-3 on the road and only 6-6-1 at home. Go figure. At least they’re .500 at home. Regardless of that record now, the Oilers will right the ship at home, and hopefully make the playoffs for the first time since the last Haley’s Comet.

You can always contact me @PolkaPat.

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