Fireworks for Oilers’ Paajarvi

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:35 PM ET

You can start referring to them as The Big Three again.

After several weeks of downsizing on the superlatives front, from Three to Two as Magnus Paajarvi’s 13-game scoring drought inched him out of the conversation, he’s back with a vengeance.

OK, maybe not a vengeance, but a goal and four assists in his last five games is pretty good. In fact, anything near the scoresheet seems like fireworks after 13 games without a sniff.

“I would say my play is getting better,” said the 19-year-old Swede, who scored his first goal in 19 games last night. “My last eight games have been way better and hopefully it can grow up even more.”

Rookies — the ones who last, anyway — always say the game slows down for them after a while and that’s what Paajarvi is noticing. It’s less of a blur now, and more like the stuff he’s been playing all his life.

“That’s kind of what happens,” he said. “You get more space, you realize you have more time than you thought you had. When you do realize that, you can make plays and your confidence grows — the circle goes on.”

The Oilers knew he’d come around eventually.

“He came in as possibly the more mature player because of what he’d experienced in Sweden, but it’s been a learning curve, there’s no question about that,” said head coach Tom Renney, adding it takes a little time to try and conquer the whole North American/NHL experience.

Everything from the size and strength and defensive abilities of NHL opponents to paying his bills and buying groceries in a foreign country.

“What’s really impressed me is he’s really kept his wits about him,” said Renney. “He’s never been a debilitating teammate because he was struggling, he was always a part of what we were trying to do and always had a great attitude and continues to be coachable and tries to do the things that we’re looking for in him.

“He also knows that it’s OK to try stuff, to be himself as a player and bring his own assets to the game and I think that’s helped him overcome an early hurdle in his NHL career. He’s a very, very focused individual, very much a pro and wants badly to be a good one.”

This is a player who’s always pushed himself against older players, so a lukewarm start in the NHL didn’t get him down at all.

“I haven’t always been successful at all, I’ve had bad times,” said Paajarvi, who left home to play in the Swedish Elite League when he was 16. “I wouldn’t say I was struggling. I wasn’t bad, I still made plays sometimes, but I wasn’t great either. I was just OK. That’s not what I want to be.

“But it’s getting better for every game now and I think that’s a good thing.”

Follow me at Twitter.com/TYCHKOWSKI

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca


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