Have you ever experienced that “I get it” moment? The moment that you suddenly understand a complex problem or task you have been working on. You wonder why it was so difficult? It seems easy now! An example would be learning to ride a bike; we all remember how difficult it seemed. Some of us needed training wheels for a while. Now we wonder why it was so difficult? For defenceman Jeff Petry his “I got it” moment has come this season.
Jeff Petry like most offensive defenceman has had his struggles. While always being able to make a great pass out of his zone and being a wonderful skater, his work in his own zone has left much to be desired.
This year Oiler fans are starting to see the coming out party for Jeff Petry. Before our eyes, he is making the right reads in the defensive zone, hitting opponents, getting his stick in the way. He has turned into an excellent two-way defender.
It really started in training camp. I noticed that he looked bigger, fitter and more confident. He has been the Oilers best defenceman all year but tonight he took that to a different level. He played 25:01, had 4 hits, 3 blocked shots, and was +1 and scored a goal.
Watching Petry has been somewhat exasperating at times, some games he would look excellent, than the next awful. Sometimes he would show that inconsistency from shift to shift in the same game! Last season he scored on his own goal and this seemed to mark the low point for Jeff Petry and in many games you could see the frustration on his face.
This year is a different story. You can always tell when a player has turned the corner; they make everything look easy and effortless. He constantly makes that excellent first pass out of the zone, and tonight confidently joined the rush to finish off an excellent pass by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
It has been a roller coaster ride but it has been worth the wait as Petry has developed into the defenceman we all hoped he could be. One of the Oilers biggest weaknesses is the back-end. Petry’s emergence is a positive sign that albeit slow in coming the Oilers have the pieces of a future excellent defence.
The Oilers have their future stud in Darnell Nurse. The emergence of Jeff Petry this year is an unexpected pleasant surprise!