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Brown getting in rhythm, near full health playing with McDavid, Oilers
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EDMONTON Connor Brown is working his way back up to speed after being out almost an entire calendar year because a knee injury, and he has the perfect linemate to help him.The Edmonton Oilers forward had two goals an assist and was plus 4 in a 7 2 preseason win against the Calgary Flames on Wednesday. Both goals were set up by Connor McDavid."You're just grateful to be back and be at full health and get to play again, and to be playing with this group, it's a special group, " Brown said. "I think that you have to have trust in the process, and I tried to stick to that and just did everything I possibly could to lead me to where I'm now. Patience can be tough throughout a rehab, but the patience paid off and so it's nice to be feeling good."Brown was injured Oct. 17, 2022, four games into his tenure with the Washington Capitals, after a hit along the boards from Vancouver Canucks defenseman Noah Juulsen tore the ACL in his left knee. He had surgery and began the long rehab process to be ready for this season.The 29 year old has 216 points 90 goals, 126 assists in 448 NHL games for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators and Capitals and signed a one year contract with the Oilers on July 1. That reunited him with McDavid https://www.krakenproteamstore.com/brian...lin-jersey, a junior teammate in Erie of the Ontario Hockey League from 2012 14. Edmonton needed a top six forward to play right wing with its captain and felt Brown would be a good fit."I think the message sent to Connor Brown when we sat down in the summertime and we chatted on the phone or in person, is that we had an idea of what his strengths were, we were going to try and compliment him with players that brought out those strengths, " Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft said. "We think that he can be a very important player in our forward grouping, but that we were going to be patient, because we didn't know how his injury would respond and he put in a lot of work, especially in the summertime to ensure he was feeling good heading into camp."I think we've managed him in the right manner. I think he's going to fit our team like a glove."Brown had OHL highs of 83 assists and 128 points in 68 games of the 2013 14 season, when McDavid was 16 years old and had 99 points 28 goals, 71 assists in 56 games. The pair looked like they hadn't skipped a beat against Calgary. Brown finished off two passes from McDavid and got multiple opportunities for a hat trick against a young Flames lineup."It might be more fun, " Brown said of playing with McDavid again. "He's everywhere and when he's on his game like that and he has the puck on a string, it's fun to be out there with him."McDavid, the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft https://www.krakenproteamstore.com/pierr...are-jersey, won the 2023 Art Ross Trophy and Rocket Richard Award as the leading scorer and top goal scorer in the NHL with 153 points 64 goals, 89 assists in 82 games. If Brown can convert a good percentage of opportunities McDavid is expected to provide, he might help him improve upon those totals."Coming off a serious knee injury is always scary for any player, and I think he looks great and he's ahead of where I would have thought he would have been at this point, " McDavid said prior to the win against Calgary. "I think he looks great. He's been fun to play with."McDavid can empathize with Brown, sustaining his own knee injury in the final game of the 2018 19 season when he crashed into the goal post after being tripped by Flames defenseman Mark Giordano while driving to the net. He did not have surgery but spent the entire offseason rehabilitating and was healthy in time for the start of the 2019 20 season."I think just getting back into contact for real, seeing how it holds up and testing it, all those types of things, " McDavid said. "It's hard to replicate what a game is like throughout the course of a summer and in practices and things like that. There is nothing like being in the line of fire and seeing how it responds."So far, Brown feels his knee has responded well and playing three games has helped find his skating legs. The Oilers end the preseason at home against the Seattle Kraken on Friday and play the regular season opener at the Canucks on Oct. 11."I think for me, it's more so just the time away, it's been almost a calendar year of not playing NHL hockey, " Brown said. "It's just timing https://www.krakenproteamstore.com/andre...ski-jersey, finding the groove, so it's been nice to be able to have this camp and get some games under me and build."
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