Vancouver Sun

JETS’ WHEELER, SCHEIFELE TO SUIT UP AS ALL-STARS

- PAUL FRIESEN pfriesen@postmedia.com Twitter: @friesensun­media

Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele will be the Winnipeg Jets’ representa­tives at this year’s NHL all-star game in San Jose.

Wheeler is Winnipeg ’s top point getter with six goals and 44 assists in 39 games. He ranked third in the NHL for assists going into the new year and his 50 points had him tied for eighth in league scoring.

The Jets’ captain is headed to his second straight all-star game.

It’s the first all-star nod for Scheifele, who has 49 points, including 22 goals.

Passed over was Winnipeg ’s top goal scorer, Patrik Laine, who burned through November with 18 goals in 12 games, but has cooled off since.

Laine’s 24 goals has him tied for fourth in the league.

The Jets are one of eight teams with multiple players selected for the Jan. 26 game, the others being the host Sharks (three players), Washington, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Colorado, Nashville and Columbus (two each).

OLD MAN WHEELER

After scoring his first goal in 10 games in Edmonton, Wheeler in a between-periods TV interview joked about how even the “old man” can find the net once in a while.

With just six goals in 39 games, Wheeler is scoring at the lowest rate of his 11-year career.

His previous low through his first 39 games is seven goals. He did it twice: in his first year in Winnipeg in 2011-12 and way back with Boston in 2009-10.

No. 26 is on pace for around 13 goals, which would be the lowest goal total of his career, his previous low being 17 in 2011-12.

Of course, when you’re dishing it off to players like Scheifele and Laine and are on pace for a career-high 92 assists, it flies under the radar.

As opponents continue trying to nullify Scheifele and Laine on the power play, Wheeler will likely start shooting more and we’ll see if the “old man” (he’s 32) still has his range.

EXTRA WORK PAYS OFF

There was nothing surprising about how Brendan Lemieux scored his second goal of the game — on a mid-air deflection of a point shot — in the Jets’ 4-3 win in Edmonton on New Year’s Eve.

Lemieux spends an unusual amount of time on tip drills and has developed an uncanny knack for it.

While down on the farm with the Manitoba Moose, he’d stay on the ice long after practice, trying to get his stick on shot after shot, connecting on a high percentage of them.

“He’s got a really good stick for tips,” Wheeler said post-game in Edmonton.

Lemieux’s winning goal, redirectin­g Joe Morrow’s shot in mid-air with the shaft of his stick, marked the first time he’s pulled the trick in the NHL.

It was also the first game winner of Lemieux’s young career, coming in his first two-goal game, which were also his first goals that meant something.

Players value them all, but not all goals are created equal.

Lemieux’s first NHL tally, which came early last season, was the seventh Jets goal in a 7-1 romp over Pittsburgh. His second, in late November this season, was his team’s last goal in an 8-4 win in St. Louis.

In Edmonton, Lemieux first scored an ugly one making it 2-1 Jets midway through the second.

LIKE FATHER ...

We’ve already seen how Lemieux has adopted his dad Claude’s ability to get under the opponent’s skin. It seems he’s even inherited the knack for getting under a teammate’s skin.

At a practice a couple weeks ago, Lemieux so annoyed Scheifele, bumping into him on one play, getting his stick up into Scheifele’s jersey on another, that Scheifele yanked the stick from his hand and whirled it up over the glass and into the seats.

We’ve also seen Lemieux cross the line and hurt his team, a penalty leading to an Oilers goal on New Year’s Eve being the most recent example.

But if he can duplicate his dad’s ability to come through in the clutch, driven by a willingnes­s to do whatever it takes to win, then we’ll look back at that blockbuste­r Evander Kane trade through yet another lens.

It will be interestin­g to see how Lemieux reacts to his first NHL post-season experience in the spring.

TRASH AND TALENT

Getting a lot of traction is a story in the Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald about scout/garbage collector Dan Shrader.

Shrader works a garbage truck in the Minneapoli­s suburb of Edina by day, and by night scouts up-and-coming hockey players in his area for the Jets.

A self-made scout who never played organized hockey, Shrader, 38, has turned his passion for watching young players into a part-time gig for a team whose lifeblood is the amateur draft. A blog he started in 2011 led to this.

“There’s a thrill in finding a player you like,” Shrader told the Herald. “There’s the thrill of the chase.”

 ?? JOHN WOODS/THE CANADIAN PRESS ?? Winnipeg centre Mark Scheifele was chosen for his first NHL all-star game, which he will play in alongside teammate and Jets captain Blake Wheeler.
JOHN WOODS/THE CANADIAN PRESS Winnipeg centre Mark Scheifele was chosen for his first NHL all-star game, which he will play in alongside teammate and Jets captain Blake Wheeler.
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