Despite his admitted struggles to fully adapt to the culture in Toronto, and Canada at large, Maple Leafs forward Ilya MIkheyev certainly put on an impressive display in his NHL debut.
In his first game playing for a team in North America, the 24-year-old was able to score a third-period goal to wrap the 5-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators in the Maple Leafs’ season opener. He added an assist earlier in the matchup for two points on the night.
Through all that, Mikheyev spoke after the game about trying to understand his new culture and just simply why Canadians don’t enjoy certain food groups.
Mikheyev said it's been a bit of a culture shock living in Canada. He said he doesn't understand why we don't like soup more.
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) October 3, 2019
This might just bring the hockey nickname ‘soupy’ to a whole new level.
Even as he waved off the team-provided translator, Mikheyev was able to approach the scrum with reported confidence. The confidence needed when taking a bold stance on how much a country likes soup and suggesting that they should enjoy it more.
Beyond the food takes, the free agent signing was able to assert himself in his first NHL game and score a goal off a pass through traffic from one of the Leafs’ other summer acquisitions.
Tyson Barrie sets up Ilya Mikheyev for his first career NHL goal pic.twitter.com/YIsN4ldkju
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) October 3, 2019
Crafty skating and a solid pass across the net from Barrie led to Mikheyev’s near-perfect debut game.
Mikheyev was slotted next to Alexander Kerfoot and Trevor Moore during even-strength play against the Senators, a line that was common throughout the pre-season.
Coming into this season, the Leafs seemed like one of the teams with the most forward depth in the league. And having those three players that are capable on both ends of the ice as their third line stands to benefit them as the season wears on.
It was a question heading into this season whether Mikheyev would have a goal-scoring touch to his game, but he was able to answer it tonight and give some more hope to build on for Leafs fans. Even if he suggests a different diet.
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