Patrik Laine has never lacked confidence.
The second overall pick in this year’s NHL Draft has compared himself to Alex Ovechkin, saying he could be like the Capitals’ prolific scorer in five years. And while it was predicted — accurately in the end — that Auston Matthews would go No. 1 overall, Laine still had his sights set on being the top selection because of how he felt about his own game.
At the age of 18, after being named World Hockey Championship MVP in the spring, he was named to Finland’s World Cup team. After scoring seven goals and 13 points in the 2016 world juniors for Finland, going No. 2 overall to the Winnipeg Jets and the excitement about what he can do for that franchise, with its up-and-coming talent, Laine has garnered some big expectations heading into the 2016-17 NHL season.
But he was also brutally honest about his performance in Finland’s World Cup pre-tournament game with Sweden on Thursday.
Finland scored a 3-2 win in overtime. But, at least based on the numbers from the NHL’s website, Laine failed to register a shot on goal in almost 15 minutes of ice time. He also played 6:15 on the power play.
He didn’t hold back when asked his assessment of his play.
“I’m not satisfied with my game,” he told Joe McDonald of ESPN. “Saturday, we have a new game and (I) have to be better.
“I was too slow on the ice and I couldn’t find my linemates and I was not so good on the power play. I was just bad today.”
It’s worth noting, too, that Laine had minor knee surgery in the offseason.
Jets coach Paul Maurice said toward the end of August that Laine has been training in full for some time now.
But it’s possible that there may be some rust in his overall game right now.
The good news for Laine and Team Finland: The tournament doesn’t officially begin until Sept. 17. So he has more than a week to figure his game out.