Edmonton Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom said it feels weird to be home at this time of the year. The team was on the verge of making their third Stanley Cup playoff appearance in the last 15 seasons before the season was paused on March 12 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
After that announcement, Klefbom and his girlfriend decided to go back to Sweden with their Australian terrier dog to be near friends and family.
“We were talking a lot, my girlfriend and I, and we both agreed on going home with the dog would be a pretty smart decision considering what’s going on in the world,” Klefbom said. “A lot of borders were closing and if we would have waited any longer, some borders would be closed and we would have had a hard time going back. It feels better being in Karlstad [Sweden] with the dog near family and friends.”
The 26-year-old said it would be very fun and exciting to play in the playoffs as teams would be well-rested and healthy. However, he said it’s tough to say how late the season could resume without it interrupting the start of next season.
“It’s going to be really weird to go in there and play in July and August and be done maybe late August and then who knows when we’re going to start next season,” Klefbom said. “It’s going to be very weird, but obviously you want to go into a playoff and we deserve to be in the playoffs. I think we’ve been having a good year. This should be and would’ve been the most interesting part of the year for us.”
Klefbom said it’s been tough to find work out spots but he’s been going on runs along the countryside and working out in his apartment, adding that it hasn’t been difficult for him to stay in shape.
“You want to go back to Edmonton and start playing again,” he said. “That’s what I’m waiting for and trying to stay in shape for. You want to go back and be around the guys, be in the locker room and obviously start playing.”
An area Edmonton has drastically improved this season is defense. Last season, the Oilers were tied for the sixth-worst goals-against average in the league (3.30). This season, they’re ranked 15th allowing 3.03 goals per game. Klefbom feels the team’s blueline has answered the critics.
“Goaltending has been really good all year,” Klefbom said. “If you’re going to win Stanley Cups and have a good playoff run, you need all the pieces to work and this year, I think we had most of our pieces working really good for the big part of the year. Obviously, it feels like we had a good year on the blueline and obviously myself, I’ve played pretty solid.”
A player who has come in and contributed is defenseman Ethan Bear. According to Natural Stat Trick, Bear leads the team with 44 takeaways, and his maturity is what has stood out most to Klefbom.
“I’m very impressed with first off Ethan Bear who came up early and really made a big impact on the whole league I think. I did not expect him to play that mature and be very solid for almost every game,” Klefbom said. “That’s something that I found to be really hard when I came up to be very consistent. If you’re consistent, you earn your minutes, you play more, you feel better about yourself and you can eventually play with confidence and better poise.”
Klefbom and his teammates have been communicating and sharing information often, but he’s taking it day-by-day.
“You have to be open-minded, I guess because you can hear one thing one day and the other days it’s different,” he said. “We’re just going to take one day at a time here and see what’s going on because obviously everyone is feeling the way I do I think. It’s really weird to be home at this time and obviously, when you’ve been playing some good hockey, you deserve to be on the ice for the most exciting time of the year. We’re just going to ride this out and take one day at a time, but I think all the players in the league want to get back playing.”