The American Hockey League kicked off its season over the weekend, their teams suddenly replete with high-end talent thanks to the NHL's labour pains. The Portland Pirates, for instance, got a major boost to their powerplay with the arrival of Phoenix Coyotes' star Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
Ekman-Larsson should very well dominate at the AHL level (he scored and had a team-high 5 shots in his first game), but it will be vital for him to remember that the Pirates aren't the only team getting an injection of NHL-calibre skill. Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier reminded him of that in a big way Saturday night:
That's Ekman-Larsson at the point on the powerplay getting cleaned out after attempting a casual spin move under pressure. Maybe he thought it would work at the AHL level, but not when the Phantoms' penalty kill features NHL talent like Schenn and Sean Couturier. In a flash, he's on the ground, and Schenn is breaking out with just one man back.
That's about when Schenn takes the opportunity to show off his own skills, dressing down David Rundblad with a gorgeous move to the backhand before scoring the shorthanded goal.
Schenn and Couturier finished with a goal and an assist each. Couturier was named the game's first star.
The AHL is going to be fun this year.
s/t to The Royal Half.
Follow Harrison Mooney on Twitter at @HarrisonMooney