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BLOG: Kassian balancing personal and professional excitement

Oilers forward is holding his own on the top line while also becoming a father off the ice

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - It's no surprise that there's been an uptick in Zack Kassian's performance.

For one, the Oilers forward is playing on the first line alongside Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid, posting four goals and five points in his past six games. Kassian is three lit lamps away from eclipsing his career high of 14 goals in a season and is nine points from establishing a new benchmark in points.

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But there's also the family factor, which can also provide a boost to a player. On Sunday at 7:21 AM, Kassian became a father to his baby girl, Ellery.

"Having a baby girl is the best feeling in the world," the winger, up to 12 goals and 21 points, said. "Hockey-wise, we're playing well and giving ourselves a chance to get into the playoffs. That's what you play for, so that's very important. 

"But nothing compares to family and to have a little girl part of my family now, it's pretty amazing."

Following Edmonton's 3-2 overtime win against the New York Rangers on Monday, Oilers Head Coach Ken Hitchcock offered praise to Kassian.

"This is the best I've ever seen him play and he's got great composure with his game going right now," said Hitchcock. "He's augmented that line in a real positive way and I think everybody feels really good for him because he's such a sincere guy in that locker room."

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Kassian, though, remained humble when asked about Hitchcock's comments. The on-ice energizer wants to remain persistent in his individual effort as well as the team's overall performance.

"Best hockey? I don't know if I can say that," said the 28-year-old. "I can definitely say I feel good out there and feel comfortable. I need to continue to play well and the team needs to continue to play well if we're going to be successful and try to get into the playoffs."

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