‘First of many:’ Oilers teammates think Connor Brown’s first goal of the season will lead to more

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
1 month ago
Confidence can be a fickle thing in life, let alone in sports.
And when you’re a hockey player whose scored 20 goals in the NHL, going 54 games is far from the norm: just ask Connor Brown.
“It’s a challenge, but I believe in myself,” Brown said Wednesday night, not long after scoring his first goal of the season that drew a minutes-long standing ovation at Rogers Place. “I know that I was just focused on feeling better, getting faster, stronger, playing better and I know that I’m around the net enough one is going to pop in.”
That mindset is exactly what led to him getting off the schneid late in Wednesday’s 7-2 win over the Washington Capitals. He and his linemates Evander Kane and Adam Henrique hopped over the boards for the faceoff right after Warren Foegele scored to make it 6-2, and all it took was 17 seconds for Brown to find the back of the net.
Henrique got the puck off the wall to Kane, who carried it up the left-wing on a two-on-one with Brown, who drove right for the net. Kane threw it there, and it careened off Brown and in.
That’s one.
His teammates, elated in their reaction on the ice and in the locker room, think it’s going to open the floodgates for him.
“It’s pretty special for him to get that goal,” said Zach Hyman. “The building was loud, one of the louder times I’ve seen the building, honestly. I think everybody was really happy for him, Oilers fans are really happy for him.
“It’s not easy coming to a new team, coming off injury, and there are so many looks that should’ve gone in for him. Hockey’s a funny game with bounces and things like that. It just took something like that for him to get one, and I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more from him.
“I’ve played with him a long time, and he’s a really good player who can score. First of many for him in this jersey.”
Hyman would know, because the pair came up together with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The 2016-17 season marked both of their rookie seasons in the NHL and both had strong seasons. Brown scored 20 goals and 36 points in 82 games that season, while Hyman had 10 goals and 28 points over the full season.
While Brown’s production would slip back a bit the following year, still scoring 14 goals and 28 points, Hyman’s took a step forward, with 15 goals and 40 points.
Nonetheless, Brown would remain in Toronto for one more year, before landing with the Ottawa Senators.
Despite underlying numbers indicating the value he provides the Oilers is among the worst in the league thanks to his bleak offensive contributions, his teammates don’t see it that way. Instead, they see somebody who has embraced a new role, doing whatever he can to help contribute.
“It hasn’t been an easy couple years for him, but I actually think he’s been playing some amazing hockey,” said Leon Draisaitl. “Sometimes, unfortunately, it just gets harder and harder as times go on, right? But very happy to see him score. I wouldn’t be surprised if he opens the floodgates a little bit.”

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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