‘I won’t waste it’: Desharnais making the most of NHL shot helping Oilers win 6 straight
Whether it’s due to a shift in team attitude or sheer coincidence, the Edmonton Oilers have not lost a game since towering defenceman Vincent Desharnais joined the team.
The 6’6″ seventh-round draft pick has chipped in three assists and has a plus/minus of five while his team is 6-0 after his Jan. 9 recall from the Oilers AHL farm team in Bakersfield, Calif.
“Hey, I waited 10 years to get my chance. I won’t waste it,” the 26-year-old told reporters Monday.
“I try not to think about [the winning streak]. But yeah, it’s awesome. The team has been playing great, goalies have been great. I think we really came together. We just gotta keep going, get better everyday.”
Desharnais is quick to give his teammates credit but said he believes he has played a role in the Oilers playing a more rugged defensive game since he arrived
Edmonton is averaging 3.23 goals against this season, but just 2.16 in their last six games with Desharnais in the lineup.
“I don’t think I’m playing my best hockey. I think I’m still adjusting, getting better everyday. But yeah, I think I’m helping the team. I think I’m bringing something that the team doesn’t have as much, in terms of grit and intensity,” he said.
“It’s part of my game. I don’t look to injure any players, I don’t look to play dirty, but I play hard, I play intense and in front of my net, is in front of my net. And I’ll make room for our goalies, I’ll protect my teammates if needed.”
Head Coach Jay Woodcroft corrected a question about Desharnais being undefeated in the NHL. Instead he pointed out that the Oilers, as a whole, are with him on the team.
Still he acknowledged Desharnais has done what he was asked to do.
“I think the message to Vincent when he got the call – and he was emotional at that time, he was excited about his first opportunity – was, ‘OK, getting to the NHL is one thing, staying in the NHL is another. You’re not just here to be here, you’re here to make the team better,'” Woodcroft recalled.
“He’s playing to what his strengths are. We’re happy for him and he’s helping the team win.”
The Oilers hot streak has also been fuelled by the resurgence of goalie Jack Campbell, who won five straight games, and the return of emotional leader Evander Kane from injury.
Connor McDavid, Zach Hyman and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are all on pace to set career highs in goals and Leon Draisaitl had the second-most points in the NHL Monday, behind only McDavid.
The Oilers (27-18-3) have just two more games before the NHL All-Star Game on Feb. 4: Wednesday against Columbus and Saturday against Chicago.
McDavid, Draisaitl and goalie Stuart Skinner made the all-star team.
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