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Smooth-skating Flame Oliver Kylington growing into reliable defender
One of the first things you notice when you watch Calgary Flames sophomore defenceman Oliver Kylington is how strong a skater he is.
Don't make the mistake, however, of thinking it all came naturally.
The 22-year-old says the smooth stride didn’t happen overnight. He had to work at it.
In other words, behind every smooth Kylington stride, there were hours upon hours of pure grind.
“I’m not going to lie," said Kylington. "You need to put in the time and really focus on getting better.
"Skating for me has come naturally, but I still had to put a lot of work into it.”
Kylington, a six-foot tall, Stockholm-born Swedish-Eritrean, was the Flames' second-round pick in the 2015 NHL draft.
Right now he’s playing some of his best hockey, since being called up from Stockton and joining the Flames for 38 games during the 2018-19 season.
Malmo-born countryman Rasmus Andersson, who was Kylington’s defence partner in Stockton of the AHL before both made it to the NHL level, says the duo have developed a strong chemistry on the ice.
“He gets better and getter each game and I think our chemistry grows for each game," Andersson said.
Kylington says knowing his defence partner as well as he does has really helped his game.
“He’s a good friend and we read off each other real well out there," he said. "We communicate a lot and you know we’re just trying to help each other make the best plays out there.”
Head coach Bill Peters likes his third pair and feels they’re making more of an impact each game.
“When Andy (Andersson) is skating, he opens up lanes for the forwards. So when he gets his feet moving it’s a real good pair,” Peters said. “And Shilly, again, is a young guy who is getting more comfortable (on the ice).
"He goes on and he’s starting to understand how he has be play to be effective. He’s got to make sure he’s making plays with the puck and (that) his gaps are good.”
Kylington says he wants to be a difference maker every time he hits the ice.
“I like to be active in the offensive zone and the rush and try to make plays (too)," he said.
"That’s how I’ve been playing," he added, "and that’s how I want to be playing. That’s what I’m striving to do."