So I am stuck in JFK airport in New York for another two hours so, while I don’t have time to do the full Prague post I want to do, I want to post something while it’s fresh in my mind.
Even if there were no Czech love involved in my trip (which OMG there totally was), it was worth the time and money for Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
It was sick to be able to see him play in his first ever regular season NHL game. His Dad, Uncle, and Grandparents were in the house from Sweden to see it too and how incredibly special it must have been for them to see all the hard work pay off and Oliver make his debut.
So let’s break down how the kid is doing.
Game 1: Time on ice: 23:47. THE FREAKING 19 YEAR OLD ROOKIE PLAYED ALMOST 24 MINUTES IN THE GAME AND THAT WAS HIGHEST ON THE WHOLE TEAM. He played 3:26 of time on the penalty kill, including the 5 on 3. He trailed only Aucoin in PK time. IN HIS FIRST GAME EVER! He also had 1 shot, 3 hits and 2 blocked shots.
The stats don’t really demonstrate how sick this kid is with the puck. He has great control, swoops around defenders into the zone and looks calm.
Game 2: A bit more rough. His time on ice was 18:38 and his time on penalty kill was 5:15, which was a minute more than anyone else. He had three shots in the game. It’s still a huge chunk of time for a rookie. He isn’t overly physical but he uses his body well and is strong enough to push people out of Bryz’s way.
Did he have some rough turnovers and passes? Yes. One lead to a goal. But, the rest of the team played like crap so we are not going to hang this loss on the kid. He hasn’t had any stupid penalties, he kills off penalties pretty much more than anyone else, and some veterans need to be showing up before we start talking crap about the kid.
Trust me, anyone that is concerned just has to see him play in person. His game away from the puck isn’t seen on TV. And he’s 19. And it was his first two games. And his family was there. And if you want to talk badly about him, I’ll fight you in the parking lot, ok?
There is a reason that GMDM told the fans in Prague that OEL was playing for sure and that Lepisto/Schlemko would be fighting for the 6th spot. This isn’t an experiment. This isn’t a test. This isn’t a trial run. Oliver is the real deal. He is our future, starting right now.
I am so completely excited for how great of a player he is going to become over the course of his rookie year. Any guesses on how long before I get my second OEL jersey? Anyone?
…… And a child shall lead them.