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BLOG: Bouchard gets a feel for the left side

Defenceman Evan Bouchard saw time on the left side of the blueline during Monday's game against the Winnipeg Jets

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

EDMONTON, AB - Head Coach Dave Tippett's experiment with Evan Bouchard on the left side of the blueline entered its trial phase on Monday.

An in-game injury to William Lagesson against the Winnipeg Jets created an opening on Adam Larsson's left. Tippett plugged the hole with the right-shooting Bouchard.

"If he's comfortable there, I'm a little more comfortable with it," Tippett said on Tuesday. "If you got a player that's not comfortable with it, chances are you're not going to get the job done very well. He's very comfortable with it over there and willing to give it a shot."

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 The 10th-overall selection in the 2018 NHL Draft appeared poised in the position. He logged a career-high 20:23 time on ice in 22 shifts and achieved his first career multi-point game with a pair of assists.

"For a right-hander to play on the left side and the way he did it was quite impressive, to be honest," Larsson said. "I know how hard it is to play on the left side. I thought he looked composed and played really well."

The rearguard also displayed his ability to get pucks to the net from the blueline with eight shots on goal - another career-high. 

"That's certainly one of his strengths," Tippett said. "A guy looks like he's right in front of him and he'll just change the position enough to get it past him. There are certain defencemen that have that knack and he has it."

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Bouchard did not get into the Oilers lineup until the club was faced with injuries on the back end. It's evident that the rearguard's calmness has increased in each outing. In six games this year, Bouchard has one goal and four points.

"It's part of the process, this whole thing," Bouchard said. "The more you have the puck and the more you're feeling the puck, the more confident you get throughout the game. As games go on, you get more confident, no matter what."

Bouchard's patience to get into game action hasn't gone unnoticed and his versatility is being regarded as a positive for the squad.

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"Bouch has paid his dues. He played in the minors, went over to Europe and now he's getting his look," Oilers Captain Connor McDavid said. 

"His passing is unbelievable. The way he shoots the puck speaks for itself. He's a pretty even-keeled kid and seems to take everything in stride. He's definitely been a real bonus for us."

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