A week ago, Patrik Laine sat on the bench, dejected.
He had just scored into his own net by accident, a costly mistake that was a defining moment in a team loss versus Edmonton. Even Wayne Gretzky weighed in on what happened to the talented rookie forward.
On Sunday, however, Laine was back to his usual, confident self. He recorded three points, including his 18th goal of the season, as the Winnipeg Jets rolled over the floundering Colorado Avalanche by a final score of 4-1.
That win pushes the Jets to within a point of the final Wild Card spot in the West.
It’s the middle of December, the holiday break is approaching.
The Jets are in a spot where they can challenge for a post-season berth. Perhaps the prospect of finishing in the top three in the Central Division is too daunting. Chicago and St. Louis occupy two of the top three spots in that division, and Minnesota — with seven straight wins — could certainly challenge for the Central by the time this season is over.
But a Wild Card spot? The Jets are middle of the pack when it comes to scoring, and in the bottom third of the league in goals against, but the notion at least seems possible, especially since teams ahead of them like Calgary and L.A. aren’t exactly lighting up the league right now.
“I think we’ve shown we can beat teams like Chicago, St. Louis in their home building. That tells something about our team,” said Laine.
“I think we have a really good team and we just have to play our own game every night, and I think we can and we will be a playoff team.”
There are other teams, like the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators, that might have something to say about it.