The move was always in Trevor Lewis’ tool box. It’s just that the box has been locked up and stowed away for a while.
It was one of six goals by the Kings in their last game, but it was a highlight score of Lewis’ career. He broke in short-handed, showed his forehand and deftly slipped a backhand shot past the outstretched leg of Arizona Coyotes goalie Scott Wedgewood. It was a classic goal-scorer’s goal, and there’s more where that came from, according to Lewis.
“If you watched, in [the minors in] Manchester [N.H.], I used to do it a little bit,” Lewis said. “I’ve still got it.”
Lewis has the freedom to show it more this season. Under first-year coach John Stevens, Lewis has a career-high 13 goals and thus fulfilled Stevens’ vision for some depth players to alleviate the scoring load after the team was so challenged on offense last season.
Stevens has encouraged Lewis to channel his past and has even put him on the power play. Lewis has therefore earned the well-worn hockey description of someone who plays in all situations.
“He’s about as consistent a player as you’re going to find,” Stevens said. “I think the mistake we make sometimes [with] Lewis is we look at him as a third-, fourth-line guy, but all he does is produce and do little things well and he wins a lot of puck battles.
“He makes a lot of support plays. He gets to the tough areas. He wins a lot of battles. You can play him at center. You can play him at left wing. You can play him at right wing. It doesn’t really matter. You can play him on defense. He’s just one of those guys that is very low maintenance.”
Lewis was the definitive bottom-six grinder under former coach Darryl Sutter and was rewarded as such with a four-year contract extension in 2016. His job was to forecheck and kill penalties and that took priority over scoring. But, like a lot of players who have built an NHL career on defense, he has offense in his DNA, having been a prolific producer in junior hockey.
“I tried to play a skill game in Manchester,” Lewis said. “My first year, I kind of realized that maybe I’m not going to be the so-called skill guy and I really tried to focus on penalty killing and just being a defensively reliable forward. I think that was the big focus. It still is. I still take pride in that area a lot but always in the back of my mind, I thought I could score more.”
Lewis is on track to be a 20-goal scorer for the first time in his NHL career. His average ice time of 15 minutes 42 seconds is a career high. And with his penchant for short-handed chances, there might be another opportunity for a forehand-backhand highlight goal.
Said Lewis: “It seems like I’ll pull out the move from juniors every once in a while.”
When: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.
On the air: TV: FS West; Radio: 790.
Update: Alec Martinez (lower-body injury) has practiced for two days and Stevens said he was getting closer to returning, but did not know his status. Edmonton has points in three straight games and turned heads Monday with a 6-2 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Oilers rank 30th and 31st on the power play and penalty killing, respectively.