- © RIA Novosti. Alexei Kudenko
© RIA Novosti. Alexei Kudenko
MOSCOW, December 3 (R-Sport) - Edmonton Oilers defenseman Anton Belov told R-Sport on Tuesday that his struggles adapting to the NHL have left him unable to show off a more attacking side to his game.
Belov has a -6 rating from his first 26 games since joining the oilers as a free agent in June from Russia and the team is last in the Pacific Division.
“I’m not taking charge of the game,” he said. “Obviously, it’s all in the head - my first games, the new rink, the new league. It’s clear that so far I’ve been trying to give more attention to defense.”
Edmonton’s head coach Dallas Eakins has told Belov “that the most important thing for him is how I work on defense and that what I do on offense isn’t a priority for him,” the Russian said. “We’ve got some many young star forwards who should be solving all the issues in attack.”
One of those star forwards is 20-year-old Russian Nail Yakupov, who could feature alongside Belov on the host nation’s roster for February’s Olympics in Sochi, but Belov said that was not a distraction for either of them.
“Yakupov and I don’t talk about Sochi, just about the club, about Edmonton’s game,” he said. “We need to sort out the club’s problems and it’s too early to think about the national team.”
Belov joined Edmonton after an eventful career with Russian KHL team Avangard Omsk. During the 2012 Gagarin Cup finals series, Avangard was leading Dynamo 3-0 when Belov was suspended for failing a doping test. Avangard lost the series 4-3 and Belov was suspended for three months.