Two's the charm for Oilers’ Eberle
DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency
|Centre Jordan Eberle speaks with the media at a news conference during Edmonton Oilers training camp, held at Rexall Place, in Edmonton, Alberta on Sept. 16, 2011. (IAN KUCERAK/QMI Agency)
Jordan Eberle doesn’t believe in the sophomore jinx.
Heading into this NHL season, the Edmonton Oilers forward has not put much thought into the notion that sometimes things are tougher the second time around.
For him, it’s the opposite.
“For me personally, I know that I’m going to be better,” Eberle said following his physical Friday at Rexall Place. “It’s just realistic that when you come in the second time around, you’re more confident, you know what to expect and you’re going to do things better the second time around, that’s how life works, I haven’t thought of that at all.
“Coming in as a second-year player, you’ve learned the ropes in your first year and that’s just expected, you know how things go around here and you don’t have any excuses anymore. It’s good, obviously when you have a little pressure, you play better.”
Eberle, 21, has plenty to live up to following an impressive rookie season with the Oilers.
He finished as the team’s leading scorer with 18 goals and 25 assists for 43 points, one up on Taylor Hall, Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky, who all had their campaigns come to a premature end.
As one of the few left standing last season, Eberle was forced to play in situations he may not have otherwise, if those ahead of him in the lineup stayed healthy.
He believes that experience will help him heading into this year.
“Last year we had so many injuries, I was lining up against some of the top defencemen in the league, whose role it was to shut down opponents,” Eberle said. “I think that will help me going into this season.”
Eberle started last year in style, scoring possibly the goal of the season in his first contest with the Oilers.
He went on to be arguably the team’s most consistent player.
“I think coming into the second year, I know what to expect,” Eberle said. “I’m a little more confident. On the ice, you know the rinks, you know the atmosphere and you know the speed. I’m definitely looking to be a key contributor to this team this year.”
If the Oilers want to climb out of the basement, Eberle will have to be.
The rebuilding program is centered on he, Hall, Magnus Paajarvi and eventually Ryan-Nugent Hopkins.
How the team fares this season depends largely on the performance of the Oilers young talent.
“There is no doubt in my mind that we can make the playoffs,” Eberle said. “With the additions we’ve made and the fact everyone is a year older. We’re familiar with each other and that’s going to be our goal, and that’s what we’d liked to achieve.”