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Oscar Klefbom set to play against Buffalo

Oilers fans everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief as it appears Oscar Klefbom will be playing tonight against Buffalo.

Klefbom took a shot off the leg late in the New Year’s Eve game against the New York Rangers, and gingerly left the game.

But reports from Oilers practice showed the Swede looking no worse for wear during the morning skate. In a video posted by Sportsnet’s Gene Principe, Klefbom could be seen breaking into the offensive zone on an empty net firing a shot on net.

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“I blocked a shot and took it in a bad spot,” Klefbom told media members in a pre-game scrum. “(My return) was a little quicker than I thought.

“When you block a shot you don’t really know what’s going on. We did an XRay. I got the shot in a really bad spot and we wanted to be smart and (not) do anything stupid like put me out there with a fracture or anything.”

On Klefbom, head coach Dave Tippett said: “he’s played a lot of minutes for us so he’s a key guy for us back there.”

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It’s evidently good news as him missing any time would be detrimental to the team. He’s become one of the Oilers’ most reliable rearguards in seasons past — this year included. Klefbom has totaled 25 points in 42 games for the Oilers this year skating a career-high average of 25:35 a night.

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Klefbom has seen a surge in his production this year and is on pace for 48 points, a number that would best his career-high of 38 points in the 2016-17 season. The powerplay has been a big part of that this season with 15 points coming while the Oilers have an extra skater on the ice. Those powerplay numbers alone are one off his previous career-high of 16, also notched in the 2016-17 season.

Something that jumped out to me is that Klefbom has been blocking a lot more shots this season than in years past. Through 42 games, he’s gotten down in front of 134 shots. His previous total season high? 146 blocks in 2016-17.

There’s an inherent risk with your top defenceman, or any player for that matter, getting down in front of shots. Let’s hope that he can stay healthy the rest of the way.

Tonight, it appears Klefbom will skate alongside rookie Ethan Bear on the team’s top pairing.

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GP G A P +/- PIM PPG PPP SHG SHP GWG OTG S S%
2019-2020 42 4 21 25 -22 12 2 15 111 3.6
NHL Career 358 33 114 147 -69 62 7 53 1 2 7 2 842 3.9

On Twitter: @zjlaing