Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Two Points And Another Solid Night From Oscar Klefbom

After coming out with what was less than a flattering performance against a struggling Toronto Maple Leafs squad on Saturday night and an upcoming schedule that will be far from easy, the Edmonton Oilers were in dire need of a solid showing against the New Jersey Devils. 

Despite falling behind early on, the Oilers essentially dominated from start to finish and were able to eke out a 2-1 victory against a Devils side that appeared to have little to no interest in trying to win a hockey game. Jordan Eberle continued to lead the way on the scoresheet with yet another two-point night, giving the talented winger fifteen points in his last seventeen games and multi-point efforts in three of his last five outings. 

Heck even Nail Yakupov scored, bringing his most recent scoreless streak to an end at eleven straight with a second period power play marker. In what has been yet another difficult campaign for the former first overall pick, the talented Russian continued on with his Jekyll and Hyde routine on Monday night in New Jersey. After looking completely lost against the Maple Leafs on Hockey Night in Canada, Yakupov managed to use his sometimes lethal one-timer to a his advantage in scoring the eventual game-winner on a second period power play. 

With that said, after being a complete non-factor against Toronto, the top line of Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Teddy Purcell were dynamite against Cory Schneider and company. If not for a stellar performance from the Devils starting netminder, this one could have been as one-sided as the beat down the Oilers received forty-eight hours earlier against the Leafs. 

While the response was likely exactly what Todd Nelson was hoping for, the one player who continues to impressive above all the rest is defenceman Oscar Klefbom. In a season which has featured almost nothing positive, the development of the young Swedish rearguard is truly the lone bright spot of what has been another wasted season in the Alberta capital. 

On top of playing his usual stellar all-around game, the former nineteenth overall pick chipped in on the scoresheet on Monday night, potting his second of the season to get his team back on even terms mere seconds before heading into the first intermission. It was a goal that certainly could not have come at a better time and it seemed rather fitting that it came off the stick of the guy who has been their most consistent player for quite some time now. 

As good as the kid has looked on the ice, his greatest impact has arguably come in from helping Justin Schultz settle down his usually chaotic game. After showing glimpses of being a fairly useful pairing to close out the 2013-14 campaign, for reasons known only to Dallas Eakins’ and his coaching staff, the two barely even saw a shift with one another for much of the opening three months of the current season. 

Considering the former second round pick of the Anaheim Ducks was arguably in the midst of his toughest stretch since pulling on an Oilers jersey, the unwillingness to reunite the two remains a bit of a head scratcher. To his credit, Todd Nelson was smart enough to recognize it and in the process, has found himself a fairly useful National Hockey League pairing. 

With every game Klefbom gets under his belt, the twenty-one year old appears to be gaining confidence and has become Edmonton’s most consistent basis. Outside of Jeff Petry, who by far and away has been the Oilers best blueliner for three years running, the native of Karlstad, Sweden has become this coaching staff’s got-to-guy on the backend. Not too shabby for player many felt didn’t even deserve to make the team out of training camp. 

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