Winnipeg hot in December? Even with global warming, not really. However, Winnipeg Jet Mark Scheifele certainly is having a hot December. Furthermore, for a player who’s been a point-a-game player for the past three seasons (since 2016-17), is it possible to have a career season? Obviously, for Scheifele the answer seems to be yes.
As Scheifele sits waiting to play the Nashville Predators in a Sunday afternoon game, he’s sitting just south of the NHL’s top 10 in scoring with 22 goals, 29 assists, and 51 points. Just ahead of him are the Washington Capitals sterling defenseman John Carlson and Toronto Maple Leafs sniper Auston Matthews – both with 54 points. Of course, the amazing Connor McDavid leads all NHL scorers with 71 points.
Scheifele’s pace puts him on track for a career season. And, if the Jets 26-year-old center continues on the pace he’s set since the beginning of December, he might even score close to triple digits.
Scheifele’s Monster Months of January and December
Scheifele has been especially hot recently. In his team’s last game, a 5-4 loss to the Boston Bruins on Thursday, he scored both a goal and an assist. In his team’s overtime shootout victory over the Maple Leafs the night before, he only shot two times but one found the net. In addition, he also scored a shootout goal to keep his team alive so that teammate Blake Wheeler’s next-round goal could take home the win.
On January 4, Scheifele scored a power-play goal and an assist in the team’s 3-2 overtime loss to Minnesota. At that point, he was on a streak of eight points in three games. His December had been hot, and he wasn’t cooling off in January.
The 26-year-old is enjoying yet another consistently productive season, including having five game-winning goals and a faceoff average over 50 percent. In short, it was a monster month of December for the Jet’s center. He had nine goals and 11 assists in 13 December games and, as I noted, he seldom misses the score sheet. He also had six multiple-point games in the month.
Scheifele’s Numbers Since Early December
Since early December, Scheifele’s 27 points are the third-most in the NHL. Since December 8, his 12 power-play points are also the most in the NHL, and his success has helped the Jets power-play score on exactly one-third (33.3 percent) of all the team’s attempts.
Head coach Paul Maurice believes there’s a difference in Scheifele’s success since teammate Blake Wheeler moved to center. He noted, “There are things that he’s doing now with the puck that you’re not sure you’re seeing it. He seems to be shooting at slightly different angles.”
Maurice also notes that Scheifele has taken on more of the fore-checking responsibility that Wheeler had taken care of on that line. Of course, none of this success surprises his head coach who notes, “Like with most things that Mark puts his mind to, he’s excelling at it.”
Few teams have been able to stop Scheifele since December. In that time, his 27 points in 18 games rank him third behind Artemi Panarin and Jonathan Huberdeau, both who’ve scored 28. His 13 goals are second to Auston Matthews’ 15. And his 12 power-play points are a league-high. (from “GAME DAY: Nashville Predators at Winnipeg Jets, by Scott Billeck, The National Post, 01/11/20)
What’s the Season’s Potential for Scheifele?
In fact, during all of his 18 games from the first of December, Scheifele’s been held off the score sheet only three times, scoring 13 goals and 14 assists in those 18 games. That’s an amazing statistic.
With the team having 37 games remaining, should he continue to score 27 points in the two sets of 18 games left plus a game, he’ll end up with 106 points. His best season’s total so far is 84 points, which he scored last season. Good luck to Scheifele, it will be interesting to see where this prolific Jets veteran ends up on the season.