Kris Russell talks European road trip

As you all know, the Oilers are beginning their season with a four-game road trip that begins in Europe over the span of approximately 15 days. There’s been a lot of discussion on the October schedule and whether it will have a positive or negative outcome for the Oilers. Kris Russell was interviewed by Jessica Kent this past week and had some very good perspective of the long road trip.

I think it’s good for our team. We get to go and be with each other for a few weeks. Hopefully we’ll get closer and grow and start things off right. I think it will benefit our team and I’m obviously excited to play in Leon’s hometown.

Obviously the Oilers didn’t have the start they wanted in the 2017-18 season and it appeared the team chemistry wasn’t even close to what they had going in the previous year. I was on the fence initially after hearing about the Oilers Europe trip. It’s definitely exciting, but you can’t help to think of what all that travel may do to a team’s energy levels right at the beginning of the season. After Kris Russell spoke however, I have a different opinion on things.

We’re not going back home to families, we’ll be together right off the plane, staying in hotels together, and eating meals together. Especially at the start of the season to be forced to be with each other, it forces us to be together and get bonding with new line mates. There are a few new guys added to the mix and it will give us a good chance to get to know them quicker and easier. Hopefully that will translate to our on-ice performance.

This reminds me of the thought process of a team performing best during road games in the playoffs. You’re not distracted by the kids at home, you’re in a hotel with your boys creating team morale and making memories. This good very well could be what the team needs to kick off their new season, especially after finishing sixth in the Pacific Division last year.

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To refresh your memory, the Oilers play their standard, seven-game preseason between September 17-29th. After that, they will fly to Germany to take on the Cologne Sharks (coached by Leon Draisaitl’s dad) for their final preseason game. The New Jersey Devils will also be playing their final exhibition game in Germany. The Devils and Oilers will then debut both their seasons on October 6th against each other in Gothenburg, Sweden. The Oilers will then have five days of resting and friendship time until their second regular season game back in Boston.

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The rest of the Kris Russell interview was about how his off-season is going. He’s currently working on putting on some more muscle and is spending his downtime working on the family farm and golfing.

Russell legitimately seemed stoked to get the season started and I couldn’t agree more with him. I have so many questions about how the team will play and I need them answered now. I think I’m feeling more impatient for the season to start now then I was last summer. Let’s do this already.

  • Bond 0097

    Kris is a good player that nobody ever accuses of taking nights off. If he feels that this brutal opening schedule might be good for the team, let’s hope he’s right. I’m really hoping that the new coaches quickly leave their mark on the team so maybe this trip will help make that happen.

  • Glencontrolurstik

    Chris, I concur… “Let’s do this already”
    I have to go on record to say that I really like Kris Russell. Sure he makes mistakes. However he also takes chances on an above average level. Because of that, be makes defensive plays and blocks shots at an above average level. He really plays for the team every night & is not selfish. These are good attributes to have in a “D-man”, a valuable asset.

  • Grabner Tatas

    I know this is super minor compared to this, but in grade 12 my football team went to California for a week at the beginning of the season and played in a tournament. We got a head start with chemistry and bonding, and we went on to win our first Provincial Championship.

    I’m not saying plan the parade… but plan the parade.

  • Big Nuggets

    It’s tough not to like Russell. As much as I felt his contract was an overpay considering the teams foreseeable cap crunch. And the NMC was almost agregious. But you still have to appreciate the character he shows.

    He is an interesting player because he seems to be an expert at preventing goals by any means necessary except for actually clearing the puck or passing the puck into the neutral zone. This results in boatloads of blocked shots as well as always being on the bad side of the fancy stats. The thing is, Russell can do his scramble dance against good competition. If you have a defensive faceoff and you know your about to get shelled by the Pavelski line, or the Getzlaf line, then Russell is a good bet to get you to the next whistle. Then you get to put the best player in the world back on the ice. Thay’s why I think Tmac likes him. The puck-moving defenders that are soft in their own zone need to be kept away from the top lines, particularily in the playoffs. This is where Russell earns his stripes. It’s his very ability to lose the shot metrics battle by such vast margins that makes him valueable. At least that’s my take on Russell.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      Yeah, what you say is bang on, but he seems to have morphed into that?
      When he became an Oiler & up until then, one of his strengths, seemingly, was clearing the zone effectively. I think that the style of play you mentioned above has been learned & developed by Russell over that last few years.

  • Moneyball

    Russell gets a lot of knocks from the Analytics crowd but I have a lot of time for a guy who gives 100% every night. I wish there were more players with his heart on the team.

  • OriginalPouzar

    I was originally not in favor of the European trip to start the season thinking it puts the team at a disadvantage with a messed up training camp, travel, jet lag, etc., however, I was then inofrmed that teams that have started the season off over-seas over the last few years have generally got off to good starts.

    The Oilers have a hellacious schedule to start the year – tough team after tough team after tough team but I’m going to take the view of that being a positive with the potential to “catch these teams napping” – for example the Caps on an SC hangover before they get their legs under them.

    Here is hoping at least.

  • Oilerfan1000

    Agree with Russel. Team needs a bonding experience like this to start the season. All hockey no hometown distractions. Have some fun playing hockey away from the fishbowl of local fans and media. A good swing out East could set them up for success