Oscar Klefbom overcame some early nerves in his NHL debut on Tuesday to finish with a strong performance. He had one assist in 15:19 of ice time along with an even rating.
“It was very fun out there. It was a special feeling. Huge night for me,” the 21-year-old defenceman said after the game.
Coach Dallas Eakins talked about Klefbom and said that he felt the rookie got better as the game went on.
“He struggled a little bit early. I think it was a case of nerves. By the third he looked like an NHL defencemen. That's encouraging,” Eakins stated.
Klefbom was paired with Oilers captain Andrew Ference. He said that Ference helped him along the way.
“Andrew is unbelievably good. He was talking to me between shifts,” said Klefbom.
In a series of coincidences, Klefbom ended up making his NHL debut in the same arena and city in which he was drafted. He also went head-to-head with his best friend, Jonas Brodin.
“I talked to him about it but didn't think about it too much. But it's always good to play against your best buddy. But it felt a little weird.”
It looked like it might be a long night for Oilers goaltender Viktor Fasth in his debut with the team. He allowed three goals late in the opening period to get behind the eight ball.
“That is a tough start. He hasn't played a whole lot this year. I talked to Viktor after the game and told him that he battled hard,” said Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins after the game.
Fasth recovered nicely, stopping every shot the rest of the way and making enough saves in the shootout to lead the Oilers to victory.
Eakins said that after the Oilers acquired Fasth, his phone lit up with text messages from people saying that he was going to love the Swedish goaltender’s compete and battle level.
Fasth talked after the game about that fighting attitude.
“Some days the pucks go in and some days you can't make the save,” he began. “I had three goals early in the game and it couldn't get worse than that. You've got to fight your way through the game.”
Hall-Gagner-Perron, Yakupov-RNH-Eberle, Hendricks-Gordon-Joensuu, Gazdic-Smyth-Jones, Fraser-Schultz, Marincin-Petry, Klefbom-Ference, Fasth— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) March 11, 2014
Klefbom will play with Ference...Ference on the right side— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) March 11, 2014
Is a chance Larsen plays instead of Fraser but based on line rushes he appears to be odd-man out on D— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) March 11, 2014
Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins announced this morning on Twitter that goaltender Viktor Fasth and defenceman Oscar Klefbom will make their Oilers debuts tonight. For Klefbom, it will also be his NHL debut.
Fasth hasn't played in the NHL since November 18 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He allowed three goals on 27 shots in that game. He played five games on a conditioning stint with the Norfolk Admirals, with a 3-2-0 record and 2.40 goals-against average along with a .922 save percentage.
Fasth and Klefbom will both make their @EdmontonOilers debuts tonight.— Dallas Eakins (@dallaseakins) March 11, 2014
Los Angeles Kings centre Jordan Nolan has been suspended one game for his conduct in last night's game against the Edmonton Oilers.
Jordan Nolan suspended for punching an unsuspecting opponent. Video: http://t.co/tOcCjxhxi2— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) March 10, 2014
Following a scrum, Nolan delivered a punch to the face of the unsuspecting Jesse Joensuu. The Oilers forward had his hands held behind his back by the officials when Nolan delivered the blow.
Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins said after practice on Monday that Viktor Fasth would get his first start in net, as an Edmonton Oiler, on the upcoming road trip.
“Both guys will play,” Eakins said. “Ben’s played extremely well, he keeps rolling along and has made a real good case for himself here and obviously, we’ve rewarded him with a contract. But Viktor has played a lot this year and it’s kind of the same as with Oscar (Klefbom). I thought it was best for the player to start his Oiler career on the road and that’s what we’ll do.”
Fasth has not played an NHL game since November 18, with the Anaheim Ducks. Fasth was dealing with injury issues for most of this season before returning to game action in the American Hockey League. The Oilers are eager to see what they got in their trade with Anaheim and hope Fasth returns to form quickly in his first start.
“I hope it’s like riding a bike but at that position it’s a little bit different than a player,”Eakins said. “It’s going to have to be one of those, let’s just wait and see. But his improvement in practice just over the short amount of time, from his first practice to today, has been a vast improvement so that’s encouraging and he’s telling me he’s ready to play when we’re ready to put him in.”
Fasth says that although he has been eager to get back into game action, having the extra few days of practice with his new teammates has been beneficial.
“You want to play, but it’s been a good start so far for me here,” Fasth said. “I think the guys are really nice to me and have welcomed me to the team. I’ve had a couple of good days practicing here so it feels good.”
Now that he has assimilated into the locker room, Fasth is ready to make his debut in the blue and orange.
“Yeah of course. It’s been a long season for me so far and I want to get back in there and play a game again. It’s just a matter of keeping focused and try to be ready when the coach tells you to play.”
Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins provided an update on Hall after practice and says he will play on Tuesday in Minnesota.
“He’s banged up a bit but nothing that’s going to keep him out,” Eakins said. “Just, Taylor plays a hard game. His minutes aren’t, soft is not the word but when he’s out there, he’s a workhorse and his body takes on a fair amount of wattage. So, we just thought it was better to take him off the ice and let a couple of his bumps and bruises heal up.”
The Oilers have taken to the ice at Leduc Recreation Centre for practice, prior to traveling to Minnesota later today.
Still early but #Oilers Taylor Hall not on the ice for start of practice. By jerseys, Philip Larsen filling in with Gagner & Perron— Chris Wescott (@TheChrisWescott) March 10, 2014
The Line combinations by jersey colour are as follows:
The Edmonton Oilers have assigned Anton Lander to the Oklahoma City Barons and have elected to keep Oscar Klefbom with the team. Both players were recalled to Edmonton on an emergency basis on Saturday.
Lander is the captain of the Barons in the American Hockey League. This season, Lander has played in 42 AHL games and has scored 45 points (17-28-45). Lander is the former 40th overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. He has played in 79 NHL games in his career.
20 year-old Klefbom is the former 19th overall pick in the 2011 draft and has yet to make his NHL debut. He could do so as soon as Tuesday night in Minnesota against the Wild.
The Oilers practice at 10 a.m. Monday before flying to Minnesota. Stay tuned for coverage from practice on edmontonoilers.com.