ShareThis Page
Penguins

Penguins defenseman Jamie Oleksiak excited for playoff debut

Kevin Gorman
| Wednesday, April 11, 2018, 2:03 a.m.
The Penguins' Jamie Oleksiak reach back for the puck past the Flyers' Traivs Konecny in the second period Sunday, March 25, 2018 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Jamie Oleksiak reach back for the puck past the Flyers' Traivs Konecny in the second period Sunday, March 25, 2018 at PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins' Jamie Oleksiak celebrates his goal against the Burins in the first period Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Jamie Oleksiak celebrates his goal against the Burins in the first period Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018 at PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins' Jamie Oleksiak fights with the Canadiens' Michael McCarron in the second period Wednesday, March 21, 2018 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Jamie Oleksiak fights with the Canadiens' Michael McCarron in the second period Wednesday, March 21, 2018 at PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins' Jamie Oleksiak clears the puck agains the Red Wings in the second period Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Jamie Oleksiak clears the puck agains the Red Wings in the second period Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, at PPG Paints Arena.

Seven years after he was a first-round NHL Draft pick, Jamie Oleksiak was one game away from his first Stanley Cup playoffs appearance.

So, after the 5-4 overtime victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets last Thursday, the 25-year-old Penguins defenseman finally asked his teammates what to expect in the postseason.

“I was curious how close that rated to a playoff game,” said Oleksiak, who played in 140 NHL games over six seasons with the Dallas Stars without a postseason experience. “Guys were saying it was pretty close, in terms of emotions. That kind of gave me a good feel of what it's going to be like.”

Oleksiak is one of only several Penguins who will make their postseason debut Wednesday night when they play the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal series at PPG Paints Arena – and he couldn't be more excited for the opportunity.

“It's something you always say: You want to play in the playoffs,” Oleksiak said, trying to temper his enthusiasm. “The closer and closer it's getting, it's a little bit more like it's another game.

“After you play an 82-game season, you're already in the mindset of playing games. It's no different in playoffs. Obviously, the games are going to be cranked up a little bit. It's going to be emotional but it's the same game we've been playing all year.”

Acquired from Dallas in December, the 6-foot-7, 255-pound Oleksiak feels fortunate to have joined the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions. He won a bronze medal with Canada in the World Junior Championships in 2012 and the Calder Cup with the Texas Stars in '14.

“That was an incredible experience,” Oleksiak said. “It's hard to compare NHL and AHL but I think that was, just in terms of getting in big-game situations like that, the competition and emotion is pretty similar, and I think I was kind of fortunate to get that experience.

“Maybe the level of hockey isn't the same, but in terms of emotions and just being in the grind of playing a game and a day off, playing a game and a day off and all of that kind of business, it was huge for me. Getting that experience and being in big-game situations, both in the Calder Cup playoffs and World Juniors, you can say what you want about the level but the emotion and the situations you are put in are similar. I was fortunate to get those experiences under my belt.”

Asked if he's ready to add a Stanley Cup to his Calder Cup, Oleksiak showed that he's learned at least one thing from his Penguins teammates about Stanley Cup superstitions: He knocked on the wooden bench at his locker stall before answering that question.

“One day, you know?” Oleksiak said. “It's a goal.”

Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at kgorman@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me