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Calgary Flames

Flames fan favourite Kylington still fighting for spot in lineup



Calgary Flames Oliver Kylington and Noah Hanifin

A day after he filled in as the team’s 12th forward in practice, Calgary Flames defenceman Oliver Kylington was back on the blueline on Thursday.

That’s about where the good news ends.

Kylington was clearly the seventh man while designated defence partner Michael Stone sat out again as part of the NHL’s COVID protocol.

Arguably the most polarizing player on the 23-man roster, Kylington’s mobility and offensive upside has endeared him to many Flames fans. Some believe he’s not getting a fair chance to crack the starting six. He was asked if it has been hard thinking the organization was never going to give him a chance.

“Yes and no,” he hedged. “But I think you always have to believe in yourself and believe you can do it and be strong when it’s maybe not going your way. I’ve just been working to stay positive.”

Consistency still key to carving out regular Flames role

The reality is there is still progress to be made.

Visibly frustrated in Thursday’s practice after a couple of misfires, Kylington downplayed the idea he puts tremendous pressure on himself.

“I put pressure on myself but it’s not going around thinking about it,” he said. “I know that I have to perform, and I want to perform. The pressure comes with the job. I just trust my instincts and believe in myself. That’s the only thing you can control.”

Coaches and management are happy with the improvements Kylington has made so far. But they’re still looking for more consistency with puck control, as Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving explained in Thursday’s afternoon chat with Pat Steinberg on Sportsnet 960.

Puck management still an area for improvement

“The last couple of (preseason) games, quite frankly, I thought there were some struggles. There were some hiccups in his game we’re trying to get out of that in terms of the puck management,” Treliving said.

“He’s sort of simplified his game and he’s got to continue to do that – some of that sort of started to creep in.”

Treliving has seen the positives throughout camp and acknowledged them Thursday.

“Oliver came in tremendous shape. He took another step in terms of his conditioning, his strength,” said Treliving. “Oliver’s defending has improved and he’s come so far in that regard since entering the league.”

“With each year that goes by, you have more experience. You learn to lead more. You learn what works and what doesn’t.”

Kylington is determined to keep making a positive impression.

“When I showed up (to camp), I just tried to do the best I can to show that I can play. That’s what I want to prove every time I step on the ice,” Kylington said. “If I have to keep proving it, I will. I’m just going to play the best I can.”