Draisaitl: My game 'evolved' after ankle injury in playoffs
Over two months after the Edmonton Oilers were eliminated from the postseason, Leon Draisaitl finally opened up about the high ankle sprain suffered in Game 6 of the first round against the Los Angeles Kings.
In fact, Draisaitl said the issue "evolved" him as a player.
"The game after, I was trying to push off and I just had no pop, no jump," the superstar said during an interview on Sportsnet's "32 Thoughts: The Podcast." "I was getting frustrated with it because I was like, 'I can't beat guys, I don't know what to do now.' ... I just had to change my game a little bit, slow it down even more, if that's even possible."
He explained, "It kind of showed me that there's a way that I can become better, in a way, with doing almost less. ... When you're healthy, you try and play your best, you try and play with speed, you try and play fast.
"I didn't have that to my game, so I tried to find a way to be productive in a different way. I thought I did a pretty good job of that."
From Game 7 against the Kings onward, Draisaitl put up two goals and 22 assists in 10 games while playing a more stationary style. At one point, he logged three or more points in five straight contests in the second round against the Calgary Flames.
However, it wasn't easy for the 26-year-old. He said his status was questionable ahead of the Oilers' series-clinching win against Los Angeles.
"I actually skated in the morning ... to try and test it out, and it was awful. It was so bad, I could barely stand up," he said. "But, then the adrenaline kicks in and you're warming up and you see 10,000 people in the stands already. ... It becomes a lot easier."
The Colorado Avalanche ultimately swept Edmonton in the Western Conference Final, but Draisaitl and fellow phenom Connor McDavid gave Oilers fans a postseason to remember by combining to accrue 65 points in 16 contests.