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Eberle Excited to Play Vs Edmonton

The Islanders forward will play against his former team for the first time on Tuesday

by Cory Wright WrightsWay / New York Islanders

Jordan Eberle is going to see a lot of familiar faces when he looks across at the opposing bench Tuesday. 
 
He'll see the organization that drafted him, the only NHL sweater he'd ever known until this season and a lot of close friends opposite him as the Edmonton Oilers take on the Islanders at Barclays Center. 

"There's a lot of excitement. There's a little more incentive to win," Eberle said. "You're going to play a team that you played for for a long time, so it'll be a good game and I'm looking forward to it."
 
Eberle spent seven seasons in Edmonton after being drafted 22nd overall in 2008. Eberle left a mark during his time in Northern Alberta. He's 21st all-time on the franchise's games-played list (507), 12th in points (382) and his 165 goals are ninth all-time for the Oilers. 

"I enjoyed my time there. They gave me a chance to start and gave me an opportunity and I went from there," Eberle said.

Video: COL@NYI: Eberle buries one-timer from Barzal in 1st

The team success didn't always match Eberle's individual stats, as the Oilers missed the playoffs in his first six seasons. They returned to the playoffs and advanced to Game 7 of the second round last season, an experience Eberle relished, especially given his long tenure there. Eberle was the senior Oiler during his final season, a title that now belongs to good friend - and 2011 first-overall pick - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. 
 
"I think its part of the game nowadays, its very rare that you spend your whole time in one organization," Eberle said. "Even to be there that long, I think I was the last guy standing from my first year. I was just happy I got to experience the playoffs last year. That was awesome in that city, but I got traded and I was excited for the change and new opportunity here."

The Islanders acquired Eberle on June 22, sending Ryan Strome to Edmonton. That was Eberle's first trade in junior or the pros, so there was an adjustment period for the 27-year-old, who had six assists, but no goals in the first nine games of his Isles career. 

Tweet from @NYIslanders: .@jeberle_7 faces off against his former team tonight. #EDMvsNYI #Isles pic.twitter.com/XKEcloZnst

Since then, Eberle looks to be finding his stride. Head Coach Doug Weight split up Eberle and John Tavares, pairing Eberle with dynamic rookie Mathew Barzal and making him a focal point of the second power play. The results are on the scoresheet, with Eberle netting four goals in his last four games. The timing couldn't be better, who doesn't want to look and feel good when seeing an ex? 

"I don't think it should matter who you're playing, you want to be feeling good so any time you're coming off maybe a better game, the confidence is there," Eberle said. "But you always have to understand what got you there. You don't want to get too high, you don't want to get too low."

The Eberle-Barzal experiment appears to have created instant chemistry, as Barzal has the primary assist on three of Eberle's four goals this season, including one in their first game together. 

Video: NYI@NSH: Eberle pots his second goal of the game

"Ebs is a super smart player," Barzal said after the Islanders 6-4 win over Colorado. "He's always in the right spots, and he's got a knack for the net so he's easy to play with."

Weight sees a veteran player who is getting more comfortable in his new surroundings. 

"He's a guy that we watch a lot of movies with," Weight said. "We stay on him in a positive matter and support him. We try to get him out there in places to succeed. He's a heck of a player and it's always good to see him get on the board and contribute. He's going to get better and better for our team and be more comfortable and I learn more about him every game."
 
Weight, who played for six teams including the Islanders and Oilers, said he knows it will be a little strange for Eberle to see his former team at first. 
 
"He was there a long time," Weight said. "Of course it's not in Edmonton yet, but it's always special. You always feel something special."
 
Eberle said that won't be a problem, but seeing former teammates like Nugent-Hopkins and Connor McDavid across the ice will give him some extra juice. 
 
"When you know people on the other team you compete a little bit harder because you want to beat them a little bit more," Eberle said.

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