February 7, 2012
Eberle on a tear
By DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency
Sam Gagner may have gotten all the attention last week, but it’s hard not to notice the run Jordan Eberle is putting together.
Another two-goal performance Monday against the Toronto Maple Leafs gave the sophomore sensation six goals in a span of just over a week.
He has team-leading 24 on the season heading into Wednesday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings and is on pace to break the 35-goal plateau.
“He’s just has a really good feel around the net, and he’s got such good timing, that whenever he’s around the net there’s never anyone really around him to try and get the puck off him,” said Oilers winger Taylor Hall. “I think we can all, as hockey players, learn something from that. He’s got really good timing and he knows how to get open, he knows how to snake around and find an opening and the puck always seems to find him.”
It’s one thing to get open, but it’s another altogether to finish around the net.
Eberle has an innate ability to bury his chances.
He doesn’t panic around the net, and if anything, has shown a calmness with the puck on his stick, which is difficult to teach.
“I think that’s something you’re made with,” Eberle said. “I’ve always been poised with the puck and never been a guy to panic under pressure.
“Having a knack around the net is something that you gain, you have to go to the tough areas to score and you have to try and squeeze in around defencemen, especially when you’re a small guy, and find a way to put the puck in the net.”
Scoring has always been part of Eberle’s repertoire.
He had over 150 goals in his four years of junior with the Regina Pats, 50 in his final season there and one memorable marker in a World Junior semifinal against Russia.
Apart from the ability to create his own chance, Eberle’s aptitude when it comes to accessing a situation, then finding the best way to get the puck past the goaltender is superior to anyone else on the squad.
He doesn’t just shoot it and hope it goes in, thinking at the time how he’s going to celebrate the goal. Eberle stands out from some of those who have a knack for denting chest protectors.
“In the NHL, everything happens so quickly that it’s tough to find time to even panic,” Eberle said. “You get into a situation, even like (Monday) night where I passed to (Jeff) Petry and I know it’s going to come back to me, and I know where I’m going to put it before I even do it.
“That’s something you definitely learn and you get better at as you get older and you definitely become a better player.”
A good example of Eberle’s prowess around the net was the tying goal last Saturday against the Red Wings, where he was able to find the puck in front. Instead of just firing it on goal, Eberle made a subtle move to his right and slid it into the net.
On Monday, he played a give-and-go with Petry. Everybody in the building knew the puck was going to end up in the back of the net. “It was just a hockey play,” Eberle said. “Hallsy turned back and even before he passed the puck across to me, I knew I was going to go down to Petey and once I gave it to him, you just know it’s coming back.
“I think I pride myself on being a good give-and-go player and if you watch some of the best players in the league, that’s one of their best aspects. They pass it and then they jump around a guy to get it back. I’ve always been a guy that plays that way and have always excelled when playing with players like that.”