After 20 months away from hockey, Oliver Kylington doesn’t seem to have missed a step

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
4 months ago
Folks, when Oliver Kylington suited up for the Calgary Wranglers way back on Jan. 11, playing his first pro game in nearly 20 months, many around the game applauded. We may never know the full extent of what that man endured – and to be frank, it’s none of our business – but being able to play a regular pro shift after being away from the game from that long was a huge accomplishment.
In a lot of ways, Kylington’s return to the Calgary Flames’ lineup before the All-Star break was a bonus – a sign that he could potentially get himself and his game back to where he was before his absence.
Just 10 games into Kylington’s return to hockey’s highest level, he looks like the player that wowed onlookers during his breakout 2021-22 campaign.
Paired with Brayden Pachal on the third pairing, Kylington’s game and confidence on the ice has gradually (and visibly) grown since his NHL return. He hasn’t missed any games, but he’s been eased into more and more challenging situations as his ice time has slowly increased.
On Monday afternoon against the Winnipeg Jets, Kylington scored his first goal of the season and did so in typical Kylington fashion: with a good amount of speed, poise and swagger. He walked up the middle of the Jets’ zone and beat Vezina Trophy favourite Connor Hellebuyck with a slick backhand finish.
On Thursday night against the powerhouse Boston Bruins, Kylington opened the scoring again. This time, he began the scoring sequence by disrupting a scoring chance beside the Flames net, then joined the rush and beat Linus Ullmark with a wrister from the point.
Between the smart plays at both ends of the ice, Kylington looked like we’re used to seeing him look.
Speaking to the assembled media following the game, Flames head coach Ryan Huska reflected on Kylington’s growth and his ability to contribute offensively.
“When he’s skating and joining the rush like that, you know he’s where he should be,” said Huska. He’s an elite skater and I think we have confidence that if there were a mistake to be made, he’d probably be the first guy back, which is important. But he doesn’t take unnecessary risks when he jumps, and that’s something he’s learned over time. When we talked when he was younger in Stockton, he was basically a forward. But now he’s learned how to play the right way, I would say, where he tries to join at the right times, not at times when it might put our team in a bad situation.”
Kylington played 15:20 against Boston, including 45 seconds of penalty kill time while MacKenzie Weegar served a second period minor. Asked about his goal, Kylington discussed the various ways he wants to help the team.
“I wanna do whatever I can to try to help the team,” said Kylington. “If that’s goals, that’s blocking shots, that’s taking down guys, I’m going to do it. I’m just happy that I chipped in with a goal today and, yeah, it felt good.”
The Flames are back in action on Saturday night when they face the Edmonton Oilers.
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