Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Oliver Kylington doesn’t look like he missed a beat in his first two games back
25 days ago
It was unfortunate when Sportsnet cut away from the feed at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Thursday night to go to commercial as the lineups were being announced. Oliver Kylington returned to the Calgary Flames lineup for the first time in 20 months, and the fans gave him a well-deserved standing ovation, but those of us who were watching from home didn’t have the opportunity to see or hear it.
Nonetheless, it was good to see number 58 out there on the backend again after a long time away from the game. And since his return to the lineup, he hasn’t looked like a player who has been out for well over a year at all. In fact, he looks like the complete opposite.
Unfortunately, Kylington has yet to register a point in his return, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been as impactful as anyone on the roster. In his two games back, he has averaged 13:28 of time on ice, and within that time, he has been fantastic. He was sixth on the team and second among defencemen in expected goals for percentage (xGF%) at 61.24 in his first game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, and then against the Chicago Blackhawks in a game where not many of the forwards were as good as they should have been, he was above the 60% mark again in xGF%, sitting sixth and third among defencemen.
Unfortunately, due to the lack of offence in the game against the Blackhawks, there aren’t many clips I could find of Kylington, but there were a couple from the game against the Blue Jackets where he really took charge of the play like we know he can.
Here’s his first extended touch of the puck that he had in the game, where he received a nice cheer from the crowd after a nifty heel-to-heel move through the neutral zone around a defender.
And here’s some more fantastic skating that leads to a shot on goal. Kylington showcases the kind of speed that we don’t see much up and down the the Flames’ lineup.
Not only is this a total feel-good story, but it also helps the defence core in a major way. Bringing in anyone with the kind of speed that Kylington has, along with the offensive acumen, is bound to help the roster in plenty of ways. It opens up plenty of options for head coach Ryan Huska on the backend and gives him some more flexibility with his system for the top four in the defence.
The fact that Kylington has come back and posted some truly fantastic numbers this early is impressive. Whether it’s due to the feeling he gets because of the support from the Flames faithful, a reinvigorating feeling because he’s playing at the highest level again, or both, the results have been awesome, and seeing that smile around the rink is a major mood boost for those at home or those at the ‘Dome. Now, the hope is that he can continue to post these kinds of results.
Recent articles from Jeff Middleton
- Seravalli talks Noah Hanifin’s ‘preferred destination’ and what it might take to get him there
- ‘It’s nothing on him, and who knows what it will look like the next game’: Flames head coach Ryan Huska on Kuzmenko’s demotion against Winnipeg Jets
- ‘I had a smile on my face for sure:’ Flames head coach Ryan Huska talks Oliver Kylington’s first goal in ninth game back