“Yeah,” he chuckled. “It’s fluffing off really nice.”
It’s refreshing to see that kind of humour between teammates, and Draisaitl knows it’s only a matter of time until McDavid masters the shot. Joke at your own peril when it comes to McDavid and feats of hockey strength.
“I worked hard this summer, worked on my game and just tried to think of different ways to create offence,” McDavid said, adding that he also worked to “round out the full 200-foot game, be better defensively and harder off faceoffs.”
But the work that continued right up to Wednesday’s season opener was on a one-timer that represents one of the scant few ways McDavid has not worked into his game. He’s been pounding away, hoping to give opposing penalty killers another one-time threat to worry about, opposite of Draisaitl.
“If I can find a way to score a couple of goals from that side, I think it would help a lot,” said McDavid. “If I’m willing to shoot over there, it will open up some other things. That way it doesn’t have to be Leo always being the trigger guy. We’ve got lots of threats out there and that’s just one of them I’ve been trying to work on.”
What’s weird is watching McDavid work on something that he’s not particularly good at. It just meets the eye in a strange way to see a virtuoso wailing away on one-timers, with some looking smooth, others clumsy.
But give him credit: Too many players only work at things they are good at. Now, here’s the best player in the world, finding a way to get better.
“It’s like anything, it’s just repetition,” he said. “For some guys, shooting the puck comes real easy. For others, it doesn’t. And I would fall into the category where it doesn’t, so I’ve really got to work at it. And I tried my best to do what I can and try to round out my game and score from a distance.
“So many teams are worried about my speed and they back in, where if I can find a way to shoot it by some guys, and score from outside, it might force them to come up and now I can beat them wide again. So it’s kind of the way I’ve been thinking.”
His Daddy’s Son
A nice pre-season on a professional tryout landed Colton Sceviour a one-year, two-way deal as a depth right winger for Edmonton. He gets $750,000 while playing in the NHL, $200,000 in Bakersfield, but is guaranteed to take home $450,000 this season no matter how many NHL games he gets — a pretty nice “minor-league” number.
He made the team by proving he could play all three positions in camp, with some nice work replacing Josh Archibald on the penalty kill. Now, with Zack Kassian (concussion) missing the opener, he gets a third-line spot next to Derek Ryan and Warren Foegele.
“My ability to penalty kill is one of the top assets I bring, and that’s what I wanted to show,” said Sceviour, a Red Deer kid who comes from a line of good hockey men from Central Alberta.
His uncle Todd played four seasons at the University of Calgary in the early ‘90s, and his dad Darrin was a Chicago draft pick who played one NHL game as a Blackhawk: On Feb. 1, 1987 at Edmonton.
“I have never seen the tape,” Sceviour Jr. said. “He never forced me into hockey, but once I decided I wanted to go into it he was my coach up until Bantam. I’m probably not here without him. His knowledge of pro hockey was huge for me to learning how to play, and what I needed to do to get to this level.”
Darrin played half a year for the Nova Scotia Oilers, Edmonton’s AHL farm team in the ‘80s, a roster stocked with such luminaries as Bruce Boudreau, Mike Rogers, Esa Tikkanen and Steve Smith — plus goalies Ron Low, Darryl Reaugh and Jim Ralph. He’s a building inspector in Red Deer now, and is likely planning to make the drive up the highway to see his boy Colton play NHL game No. 501 Wednesday vs. Vancouver.
“There’s an Oilers connection there for sure,” Colton said.
An Edmonton Oilers player for the past three seasons, Alex Chiasson opens his tenth NHL season in a Vancouver Canucks uniform tonight — his sixth team in a 564-game career. This, after his third training camp invite on a professional tryout, which has to be some kind of record.
Does it get any easier, on your third PTO?
“No, it gets worse,” the 31-year-old said. “As a player, it comes with a lot of doubts. Three PTOs… You know, I had 42 goals the last three years.”
He did indeed. But the Oilers did not re-sign Chiasson, bought out James Neal, and brought in Zach Hyman to work the net front on their league-leading power play. Jesse Puljujarvi will also serve in that role, while Chiasson had to find another gig.
“I always find a way,” he said. “My career has always kind of been that way. Perseverance. Resilience. This time around though, was probably a little bit harder than the two before.”
Drafted in round two by Dallas, Chiasson moved on to Ottawa in the deal that made Jason Spezza a Star. Then he was dealt to Calgary before signing free-agent deals in Washington, Edmonton, and now with the Canucks.
“I’ve been everywhere,” he said. “I’ve done the Battle of Alberta from both sides. I’ve always thought Vancouver was a great place to play. A great city.”
He’s on a line with J.T. Miller and Elias Pettersson tonight, and on the No. 1 powerplay unit. An injured Brock Boeser skated with the team for the first time Wednesday, and should soon reclaim his spot on that line from Chiasson.
For now though, that’s a soft landing after a hard try-out in Vancouver for Chiasson.
“I had the chance (at camp) to be on the first powerplay and play with the top players. Guys that go on a PTO, sometimes it doesn’t work that way,” he said. “It feels like the last few weeks have (flown) by, but here we are. Game 1 of my tenth year.”