Patrik Laine plays mind games with himself

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WINNIPEG — Perhaps it was all just an elaborate ruse.

Patrik Laine, the Winnipeg Jets’ superstar forward and the proud owner of a shot every NHLer (save for Alex Ovechkin) would kill for, recently declared hockey to be a “hard” game to play and admitted that he had lost the confidence he previously held in his game.

You see, Laine, a very good goal scorer already at 19 years of age, had only scored four times in 11 games and had gone four games without a tally.

Simply, it didn’t compute in the sniper’s head.

Stricken with a brief inability to score, Laine felt some self-inflicted ridicule would do the trick.

“I think he had that whole thing, I’m not saying scripted, but he puts pressure on himself because I think he enjoys it in some ways,” said Jets head coach Paul Maurice, adding that he believes Laine might just be smarter than us all. “He’s hard on himself. Kind of filleting himself in front of the world there, the hockey world, somehow gets him going, somehow drives him more.”

It’s all just a little macabre, no? Nevertheless, it worked.

Laine said Tuesday that to get out of his funk, he’d have to do one of his favorite things: shoot.

“That’s the key,” Laine said. “Because if you’re not shooting, you’re not scoring.”

It’s with this simple wisdom that Laine rattled off goals in five straight games after declaring hockey was harder than he appears to make it look.

His goal-scoring streak ended in a 4-1 win against the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday night, but Laine chipped in a helper to extend his point streak to six games.

“Maybe (my confidence is) not 100 percent but it’s getting higher all the time,” Laine said. “It feels like hockey – it isn’t getting easier, I mean, but it feels like a lot of fun.”

Meanwhile, Laine’s yet-to-be-written self-help book could revolutionize how athletes deal with low confidence.

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck.

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