It’s no surprise, then, that Laine has got off to a good start this season, scoring eight goals in his first 11 games, and following him with one goal in his last 17 games.
What is surprising, however, is that not only are the goals gone, but also the scoring chances. It is one thing if the results are not there – quite another if the process is interrupted.
“I’ve always told everyone, I’m not worried as long as I have a chance,” Laine said recently. “So I feel like it’s a bit new. I don’t even have a chance. This is something that I have never had before. ”
It looked like Laine would be able to inject a much needed offense into a Columbus side struggling to score goals. However, if you look at Laine’s expected goal tally (a reflection of the quality and quantity of shots) in his first 11 games, you’ll notice that he has far surpassed him. Lots of goals, but also signs that, depending on the types of chances he was producing, he probably wouldn’t score at this rate for a long time.
In all fairness, players like Laine, Alex Ovechkin, Auston Matthews, etc. who consistently score from distance, consistently exceed their expected goal tally. However, surpassing it as much as Laine was is not normal and more often than not not durable. In the 17 games that followed, Laine put in about the same number of shots at the net, but not as many shots from high-risk areas. He is now underperforming his expected goal tally. Although Laine did not offer much comment he can start scoring again, there are some red flags in his attacking game recently.
Create an offense quickly
We know Laine can take the puck out of the left face-off circle. Five of his nine goals this season have come from his office. The other four all got out of the race.
If you’ve noticed in the graph above, Laine has gone from an average scoring chance per game to less than one every other game in this cold spell. Creating an offense in transition is one area where Laine probably hasn’t received enough credit in his career. Once he picks up speed, Laine struggles to stop through the neutral zone and into the offensive end. He scored twice in the race in his first and only game with the Winnipeg Jets this season.
Over the course of his career, nearly a third of Laine’s evenly-matched goals came out of the race, 32% to be exact. His shot is unpredictable and difficult to read as is. Take into account the threat of a rush chance and the extra readings that goalkeepers must take and it is all the more deadly. The Blue Jackets, however, are not a team that generates a lot of offense outside of the race standings, 26th for race scoring chances and 27th for race goals. Playing mainly with Kevin Stenlund and Max Domi / Oliver Bjorkstrand recently, Laine hasn’t been much more offensive in transition.
Laine was recently asked if John Tortorella’s attempts to change his game could play a role in his offensive struggles. Laine said he wasn’t sure and was “usually the top guy looking for openings where I could maybe get the puck and try to shoot it.” This is what I’m good at. Yes, he certainly is.
Everyone knows how hard he can shoot the puck, but the fact remains that over half of the goals scored in the NHL come from the net, the inside zone of the slot machine, and even the best shooters in the game. still have to travel to this area for Goal. In Laine’s career, a third of his evenly matched goals have come from the inside lunge.
In his last 17 games, Laine has managed a shot on goal from there.
This is partly because Laine creates less run, but partly because he too often relies on shots from areas where it is difficult, even for a player with sniping, to to mark. The proof is in Laine’s expected goal rate this season compared to last year. At the pace of 20 minutes, Laine is having by far his worst season in terms of quality and quantity of shots.
It reflects what Laine said about having no chances.
Even as a high forward in the offensive zone, Laine has to find a way to create more from closer to the net. That’s not to say he should park in front of the net in the offensive zone, but even a high attacker can find ways to turn into the offensive end and create lanes to open up in scoring areas. better quality.
Laine played the same role in F3 in Winnipeg and was still able to produce shots and goals from more dangerous areas more often.
While puck retrieval has never been a feature of Laine’s game, he grabs loose pucks and wins puck battles in the offensive zone at the lowest pace of his career. This coincides with the main point of emphasis here: Laine’s best bet to start producing chances and ultimately goals is to move her feet more often.
Laine hasn’t forgotten how to score and he still has a respectable nine goals in 28 games. Once the odds start to come, the goals will certainly follow.
Creating an attack out of the run, getting closer to the net and grabbing the puck when you don’t have it are all areas of Laine’s game that have fallen this season. Everyone can be helped by being more active in the room.