It took Jordan Eberle 507 regular season games to finally play his first NHL playoff game. However, he’s still looking for his first playoff goal.
The right winger went without a goal in 13 post-season games as his Edmonton Oilers were eliminated in the second round by the Anaheim Ducks.
“That’s a confidence thing really. The post-season didn’t go the way I wanted it to go,” said Eberle. “That’s the one that really stings. You take this long to get to the playoffs, and you don’t perform and play to your standards, that’s what hurts.”
“We didn’t get to the playoffs without him,” added head coach Todd McLellan. “You can’t completely evaluate him and pin his whole season on the playoffs. Of course, that’s a time where you want guys to rise to the occasion. He didn’t get quite get it done, but he’s a very important asset for our team. Confidence is huge moving forward. He’ll get it back. He’ll be just fine.”
Eberle, who turns 27 on May 15, has been one of the Oilers top offensive threats for the duration of his seven-year career. Despite a career-low 9.6 shooting percentage, he scored 20 goals and was third on the team with 51 points.
“He’s a tremendous player. He scores 20-25 goals every season. You can count on it from him. That’s not going away,” said head coach Todd McLellan. “When you get into a playoff scenario and it doesn’t start well for you, it can snowball quickly.”
However, it’s not just a lack of goal scoring that has Eberle under fire. His checking ability was often criticized. In game seven against the Ducks, he played only 12:10.
“When I talk about determination, I didn’t think Jordan had much in his game,” said Sportsnet analyst Drew Remenda. “In the Old West, they talk sand. ‘The boy has sand.’ I didn’t think Jordan had much sand in his game.”
With Eberle making $6-million a year for two more seasons, there is speculation that he’ll be traded over the summer. Leon Draisaitl will be getting a big contract this summer while Connor McDavid’s next deal will kick in for the 2018/19 season. Eberle was asked if he thinks he’ll be an Oiler in the fall.
“I can’t answer that question. It’s not in my hands as to where it goes. Obviously, the team took a huge jump this year and huge leap in the way we perform, and I love being a part of it,” said Eberle. “This is a special group right now. This loss in the playoffs is only going to build us into the future.” (jrw)