Corey Elkins’ NHL debut wasn’t one for the meek. He didn’t join his new teammates until the morning of the game, he didn’t get a morning skate, he got pushed into a bigger-than-expected role because of Jarret Stoll’s injury and he made his debut in front of a large, intense Edmonton crowd in a game his new team really needed to win.
How did Elkins respond? He had three shots on goal, two hits and a blocked shot in almost 14 minutes of ice time while spending most of the game centering Raitis Ivanans and Scott Parse. Here’s what Elkins said today about his NHL debut, followed by some thoughts from Terry Murray…
Question: How did you feel when the game was over?
ELKINS: “It was a lot of emotions. At one point during the day, I’d get super excited, then an hour later I’m nervous. It felt good to go out there and get the first game. It was a great environment to play in, in Edmonton, and I felt better as the game got on. It was a big adjustment. It was a lot quicker than the American league, but as you pick your head up a little more and start to survey what’s out there, it got a little easier as the third period went on. It was fun.”
Question: You certainly didn’t get eased into your NHL debut. Did you know what to expect there?
ELKINS: “If I could have it any way, that would be the way to do it, just get thrown in there and try to keep it simple and make smart plays and play smart defensively. At first, I was almost, not shell-shocked, but it was definitely quicker than I had anticipated, but it was good. I think I adjusted fairly well, and hopefully I get to keep going.”
Question: You signed as an undrafted free agent. How did you come to sign with the Kings?
ELKINS: “It felt like the right fit. Going through my senior year, it was almost like another recruiting process. It was a cool experience to have, actually. With everyone, with (Ron Hextall) and L.A., it just felt right. I’m just really excited to be a part of such a great organization.”
Question: How are things down in Manchester these days? It seems as though they have a new situation to deal with almost every day…
ELKINS: “Down there, it’s similar to here. We’re losing all kinds of guys, and we’re just finding ways to win. Everybody is stepping up and putting the puck in the net. Our goaltenders have been playing incredibly well. It’s just been a collective effort. Sticking to the system, that’s another big part of it. It keeps the game simple and gives you a chance.”
And here’s what Murray said about Elkins’ debut…
MURRAY: “I thought Elkins was pretty good. The first game, it’s pretty intense for him. That pace, that level of play, is probably the most difficult thing for a young guy to adjust to, but I like the use of his body. He’s a big guy who got involved along the boards, protected the puck. He took some hits to make plays. D-zone coverage sometimes, a little bit, got a little too fast for him, but again, I look at that as the first game. We’ll watch it closely as we go forward.”