It has been an incredible playoff run thus far for Winnipeg's star centerman, Mark Scheifele.
Originally an 'off the board' selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft - the first pick made on behalf of the Winnipeg Jets 2.0 - Scheifele saw ample opportunity for development in Barrie, Ontario, with Dale Hawerchuk's Colts of the OHL following his first two NHL training camps.
The extra time spent 'developing' in Junior - while others picked after Scheifele in 2011 saw regular NHL action - originally may have been looked upon as poor drafting, or a failed pick by the Jets.
Fast forward seven years, and a 25-year-old Mark Scheifele is leading not only the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoff goal scoring race, but is also in the process of leading his Winnipeg Jets to their first Stanley Cup Finals in franchise history. And he is doing it in style.
With 12 goals in just 13 postseason contests so far, Scheifele has been a force to reckon with. Although still trailing Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, David Pastrnak, Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov by a slight margin in the points department, it is his goal scoring that has the city of Winnipeg abuzz.
The Jets have just played their first game of the Western Conference Finals, meaning there is a potential for 13 more Winnipeg Jets playoff games. With 12 goals in Winnipeg's first 13 games, Scheifele could be on the cusp of something very special, if he continues this torrid pace.
The NHL record for goals in a single postseason is 19 - set by Reggie Leach, 42 seasons ago. The most goals scored in the entire 21st century in a single playoff is 15, by Sidney Crosby in 2009. Last season's playoff goal scorer leader, Jake Guentzel, put up a total of 13 goals in 25 games.
After already scoring seven road goals in Nashville - an NHL single playoff series record - Scheifele is ready to add to his success. But that success, as he says, comes from the full team, not himself individually.
"It takes a full team effort," Scheifele said. "It takes all 20 players on the ice to win these big games, and that’s what we’re going to be looking for, for every guy to do what they can to help this team win. Whether it’s blocking a shot, taking a hit or making a hit, you’ve got to do it all in these big games.”
With history in his sights, Mark Scheifele will certainly have a bead on the net in game two of the Western Conference Finals from Winnipeg, Monday evening. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:18 P.M., while the Winnipeg Whiteout street party will get underway at roughly 5:00 P.M. central time.
Winnipeg Harvest will once again have non-perishable food item donation bins set up inside all arena entrances and throughout the street party. For those not attending the game in Winnipeg Monday, it can be viewed live on Sportsnet and CBC.
By Carter Brooks
Photos by James Carey Lauder and Jeff Miller