ST. PAUL, MINN. - It was another feather in Ryan Keller’s cap.
Having already made a good impression at training camp, the Edmonton Oilers forward added to his resume by moving back to play defence after three blue-liners went down with injuries.
“I’ve played defence a bit on the power play before, and coincidently enough, the same situation occurred when I was playing with Team Canada at the Under-18 tournament,” Keller said. “We lost a few defencemen and I played defence for a game there.
“I’m comfortable in our end as a forward and I feel like I know the responsibilities for defencemen also. I’m not going to take anyone’s job back there, but they needed someone to go and eat up some minutes and I felt like I could do that.”
Keller volunteered to play defence after Taylor Chorney, Taylor Fedun and Ladislav Smid went down with injures.
Chorney tweaked his knee, Smid hurt his shoulder and Fedun suffered a complex fracture of the femur in his right leg after being tripped up by Eric Nystrom on an icing play.
“I feel awful, he was really hurt, I had no intention of ever, ever doing anything like that,” Nystrom said. “I was just racing for the icing, it was one of those freak things, I thought I had a legit chance at the puck, I reached and my stick rolled up into the holder of his skate blade.”
Keller ended up logging 24:33 of ice time, having to play on defence for half the contest.
“It was a finger in the dike,” said Oilers head coach Tom Renney. “He did fine. They went after him a few times, you could see the attack go all the way from the left side to the right side and he hung right in there.
“He actually made some great plays, some subtle, great plays that a guy who has that experience and ability can do.”