A quick glance at the game summary of yesterday’s game between Slovakia and the United States would reveal that Edmonton Oilers defenceman Martin Marincin
went -4 in 14:53 of ice time. Oilers President of Hockey Operations Kevin Lowe
doesn’t believe the numbers are indicative of what he saw. Lowe was in attendance for the first two periods of that game in Sochi, Russia.
“You’ve got to be careful because I don’t know if he was actually -4,” Lowe said. “I saw the first two periods. He was on the ice for a bunch of goals against but I was really happy with his game. I thought he played great, quite frankly. I think, on all of the goals he couldn’t do much about it. A couple of them were odd-man rushes, another one was some poor coverage by the forward on the play and I couldn’t fault him on any of his plays. When they got down, he jumped up in the play and added to the offence.”
Marincin played the third most time on ice by a Slovakian defencemen in the game.
“It’s something to look out for from time to time," Lowe continued. "The numbers, the stats can be a little bit deceiving and, in this case, it was that. He was on the ice for four goals against, but I thought he played a good game.”
The young defenceman is getting valuable experience for a young player while competing against the best players in the world. Facing USA in his Olympic debut was about as tough as it gets.
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“(Detroit Red Wings Executive Vice President and General Manager) Ken Holland hadn’t seen (Marincin) much and I was pointing him out and he was impressed with his poise, as a 21 year old, playing in the Olympics against a really tough opponent, in terms of the Americans who are considered to be one of the favourites here.”
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Marincin was generating buzz in Edmonton after continued solid play on the Oilers blue line. In the game against the Rangers in New York City on February 6, Marincin earned much praise from his head coach.
“Marty made some plays tonight,” Dallas Eakins said after the game. “He made some plays that high level defencemen in this league, sometimes can’t make. I thought he had settled in nicely too and started to turn into a go-to guy for us to break our puck out of our zone… Marty had the ice in his veins a few times where he was real settled, he didn’t panic, he took a breath and was able to escape and make a play. Those are the games that are encouraging when you’ve got a young, young defenceman like that. Especially in a building like (Madison Square Garden), playing a team like (the Rangers), for him to settle in and make those plays is very encouraging for our future and his.”
That play carried Marincin right up until the Olympics. Kevin Lowe was just one of many who was eager to see if that would continue.
“He’s got tons of confidence,” Lowe said in a phone interview from Sochi. “It’s very encouraging. I was on the road with the Oilers on the last road trip, in New York and in New Jersey. I was amazed at his poise and his confidence, the plays that he made and his ability to defend and I was curious to see if it would continue over here. He’s got a lot of confidence in his game. With all his players, particularly young ones, you never know where it’s going to go but he is tracking very well. I was really encouraged by it.”
The ability to keep an even head and to have the level of confidence Marincin has exhibited, through any situation is impressive. It is promising to the Oilers future on the blue line.
“Good players have the ability to do that,” Lowe said. “If he can think the game and move and make good decisions as Martin has done in his young career so far… We saw him a lot in the Western Hockey League and he carried it on to the American Hockey League and now he’s in the NHL. His stats have been very good since he’s been with the team. I don’t know if there’s any questions. We’re winning hockey games. I don’t want to put anymore pressure on him, but he’s got really good numbers.
“It looks like he has arrived and again, that’s something that we’ve been waiting for not from him singularly, but from the drafts we’ve had in recent years on the backend. We’ve been trying to improve our backend and it looks like he has a bright future with the hockey team.”
Marincin and his Olympic team take on Slovenia on Saturday.