SUN Hockey Pool

Paajarvi driven by own expectations

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:47 PM ET

Magnus Paajarvi has watched Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall take their turns.

Now he figures it’s his turn.

“I haven’t really played an excellent game yet,” Paajarvi said Monday after preparing for tonight’s test against Daniel and Henrik Sedin and some other guys.

“I think it’s important to evaluate yourself after each game and so far I haven’t had an excellent game.

“I’ve been OK. But not more.

“I feel more comfortable. I feel like I’m playing better and better. I’ve managed to do some good things. But I haven’t done the good things for the whole game yet. I haven’t had my excellent game.”

It would be nice to have it against Vancouver’s Swedish superstars, he says. And it would be nice to have it at home. His first six points in the NHL have all been produced on the road. That’s a pretty positive thing when you think about it, but …

The kid, you can tell, has the same sort of expectations for himself as Eberle and Hall. It’s just that people aren’t putting the same sort of pressure on him as the two Canadian kids.

Eberle, with all his expectations from his World Junior heroics, has four goals and four assists to lead all

NHL rookies in scoring. Hall has all the pressure being the No. 1 pick in the draft and is coming off consecutive multiple-point games to sit with two goals and three assists.

Paajarvi hasn’t had as much of that to deal with, other than trying to look like he belongs in the same sentence as the other two rookies. And he’s done that. The Swede has two goals and four assists and leads all Oiler forwards in shots on goal, with 24.

“I would maybe get more pressure if I was alone,” said the 19-year old of not having 18-year-old Hall and 20-year-old Eberle running as an entry this year.

“I think it’s so good for me this way. It helps. Having them with all the pressure is a good thing for me, I think. They are both great with the media. I’m not used to this, yet,” he said.

A lot has been made of the adventures of Hall and Eberle living together.

But what about Paajarvi?

“I like to live by myself. I like to take care of myself and do things for myself. I think that’s part of growing up. I’ve been living by myself for three years playing hockey for Timra in the Swedish Elite League, so I’m used to it already. I’ve found out I like to be a regular person,” he said.

It’s hard to feel like a regular person when you are still a teenager in the NHL, much less one with teen-idol looks and suddenly living the life. But so far, so good.

Back from the first real road trip of the season, Paajarvi says it’s cool.

“Obviously the plane is really good. Extreme luxury. The new cities, new arenas and all of that is very exciting. My first game in Edmonton was kind of shocking. I was impressed with how loud the crowd was. I tell everybody back home that Edmonton is a great place to play and that I am living the dream.

“But it doesn’t affect me. All I have on my mind is hockey.”

Paajarvi says he has no goal when it comes to goals and assists.

“I just want to play good hockey. I want other guys on the team to see that they can count on me to play good hockey.”

He’s been a delight to deal with for head coach Tom Renney so far.

“It’s funny, because every week you watch one of them deal with something personally. I don’t mean that like they’re psychotic or anything. They’re just dealing with life in the NHL.

“For Magnus it’s interesting. When his mom was here and they were out shopping for furniture, that was great. I think that the furniture is probably now put together properly.

“It’s fun watching them dealing with that and at the same time being a National Hockey League player. As coaches we need to help a guy like Magnus assimilate the culture, the NHL, Edmonton, the fanfare and all of that.”

Right now, says Renney, talking about one is like talking about the others.

“They’re kids but, boy, are they ever handling this well.

“They’re easy to coach. They acknowledge what you want as a coach. They’re personable. I think they interview incredibly well. I think they’re genuine and sincere,” he said.

“In their own way, they’re each authentic. It’s a wonderful thing for the Oilers and Oiler fans to see this trio — and more to come — grow up in front of their eyes. It’s pretty exciting stuff.”

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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