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GENE'S BLOG: The Oscar goes to...

In his latest blog, Gene Principe dives into defenceman Oscar Klefbom's impressive ice-time totals this season that rank second in the NHL

by Gene Principe / Special to

On Wednesday morning, the Edmonton Oilers had an optional skate. About a dozen players skated. One who didn't was Oscar Klefbom.

In fact, maybe the coach told him to stay off the ice and who could blame him? I'm referencing the coach, or the player, or both because Klefbom is not short on ice time. It's the one thing he gets lots of and has all season long. It was no different against the Stanley Cup champion Blues as #77 ended up playing 28 shifts for a total of 26:02 in ice time - 16:24 of it was spent 5-on-5, 6:33 while quarterbacking the power play, and another 3:05 shorthanded. 

Just another game night in the world of Oscar Klefbom. He's used to it and in fact he likes it. "I enjoy playing as much as I do" said Klefbom recently "and I feel good". He also looks good.

Oscar is like a Clydesdale. It is a breed of heavy draft horse developed in and deriving its name from the district in Scotland where it was founded. Before you ask where I'm going with this, the Clydesdale is a very active horse. While Klefbom is a very active defenceman, in fact one of the busiest blueliners in the NHL, he went into Wednesday night's game second in the NHL in average ice time. Klefbom, per game, has been on the ice 25:45 while Drew Doughty of the LA Kings is at 25:52.

Now the pièce de résistance, when it comes to straight ice time, has come on two separate occasions for the Edmonton defenceman. The most recent was the opening game of the road trip in Dallas. He played 30:32 and there was no overtime vs. the Stars. The other came on November 19 in San Jose. That night, Klefbom was almost super human. He spent 28:22 on the bench and he spent the other 31:38 on the ice. Not that the numbers alone aren't incredibly impressive, but throw in the fact neither of these games went into overtime and it's almost unimaginable to play so much.

It's not something easily done especially when you get into playing more than half the game. The two ice times listed above for Oscar were the fourth- and sixth-most time on the ice in a single game for any player this season.

The 2011 first-rounder is one of only three players this season to have multiple 30-plus-minute games. The other two are Ottawa's Thomas Chabot and Toronto's Morgan Rielly. Those are a lot of numbers to digest, but suffice to say the 26-year-old gets a lot of the time. The fewest minutes he's played this season was December 6 vs. LA. The final tally was 19:21. It must have almost felt like a night off and it's the only time this season he's played less than 20 minutes.

Just to clarify, this isn't a one season situation. In 2017-18, Klefbom led the Oilers in ice time averaging 22:50 per game. Since then, what he's done is add another three minutes per game to his final total. With the team in a push for a playoff spot and playing so many close and important games, it's not likely Klefbom will get many quiet nights for the remainder of the season.

If there is an award for ice time, the Oscar goes to...

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