SUN Hockey Pool

Nilsson refreshed after Olympic break

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:03 AM ET

NASHVILLE — Robert Nilsson decided go home to Sweden during the Olympic break in order to refresh, regroup and prepare for the final quarter of the NHL season.

With nothing left to play for, the Edmonton Oilers can approach the final 21 games in one of two ways. They can either continue the long, slow death march and be content with having the worst record in the NHL, or they can show some life and try to end the season on a positive note.

“It’s nice to be able to get your mind off things, just go home, relax and be with the family,” Nilsson said.

“It was hard to take your mind off hockey because you’re pretty much watching three (Olympic) games a day. But it was nice. Now coming back makes it a little more exciting.

“When you’re losing, sometimes it just seems like everything is just going around in circles and the days get the same. So it was nice to get away.”

Nilsson has been teasing Oiler fans all season with his play, showing flashes of brilliance between stretches of seeming indifference.

He has six goals and 14 assists in 43 games, and is still struggling to prove he can be effective on the power play.

“I still want to prove myself and show everyone that I can be here to stay and that I can play the game at this level,” Nilsson said.

“We can’t make the playoffs, but we can still play as a team and help each other out.

“Ever since I got back from my concussion, I feel I’ve been playing the way I’m supposed to be playing. I’ve been more consistent.”

As arguably one of the most offensively gifted players on the squad, Nilsson’s point totals have been disappointing.

With the loss of Ales Hemsky to a shoulder injury, Nilsson has been used extensively on the top line, but is not producing as much as he or the Oilers would like.

“I’m not happy with my point total,” he said. “Everyone says you shouldn’t judge everything by your points, but you have to.

“If I were getting a lot more points we’d probably win more games.

“I’ve had a lot of chances, but I haven’t been able to score. That’s one thing I’m not happy about this year.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca


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