Thursday, October 29, 2020

Traikos: Dallas’ Oleksiak showing he is more than just a stay-at-home defenceman

Traikos: Dallas' Oleksiak showing he is more than just a stay-at-home defenceman

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“I had a lot of time,” said Oleksiak. “I was just kind of moving in and seeing what the D-man was doing. He (Andrei Vasilevskiy) got a piece of the first one and I got one back. It’s just a matter of sticking with it.”

It was the fifth goal of the playoffs for a player who had just three goals in the regular season, and who had never scored more than five goals in a single season.

Of course, the regular season is the regular season. And the playoffs are the playoffs. And in these playoffs, Oleksiak is now tied for third amongst defencemen in goals.

“I think these playoffs, we’re getting the D involved more,” Oleksiak said of his offensive output. “I think the opportunities have come my way and I’ve been able to put them in … like I said, it’s definitely nice to contribute that way.”

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final definitely belonged to the grinders.

Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point, who entered the final ranked 1-2 in playoff scoring, were nowhere to be found. Neither were Jamie Benn and the snake-bitten Tyler Seguin.

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Instead, in a game that was filled with traffic, it was players like Oleksiak and minor-league journeyman Joel Hanley and rookie forward Joel Kiviranta who fought through the crowd and became unlikely heroes.

Hanley, who had never scored a regular-season goal in five seasons with Montreal, Arizona and Dallas, gave the Stars a 1-0 lead in the first period when he pinched down low and capitalized on a defensive breakdown.

“Obviously, it’s something you dream about when you’re young and stuff,” said Hanley. “It was pretty cool.”

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