Edmonton Oilers defenceman Kris Russell on verge of NHL record for blocked shots

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Edmonton Oilers defenceman Kris Russell will likely become the NHL’s all-time leader in blocked shots Saturday night when he and his teammates visit the Vegas Golden Knights.

Russell sits with 1,997 blocks, one behind former Chicago Blackhawks blueliner Brent Seabrook. The statistic has been kept since 2005.

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“It’s something I’ll look back on later,” Russell said. “It’s pretty special. A lot of work has gone into it, but at the same time, when it happens, it happens. I’m not going out there to try to break (it).

“Kris Russell has been doing it for a long, long time,” said Oilers head coach Dave Tippett. “It’s a commitment from a player to put his body on the line to help the team win. There’s something to be said about that.”

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“It’s pretty incredible when you think about it,” said Oilers winger Zack Kassian. “I’d rather almost take a punch in the face than a blocked shot. It speaks volumes to the type of warrior he is.”

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Russell, who has played 889 NHL games, said shot-blocking wasn’t always a priority for him.

“It evolved for sure. When I got to St. Louis (in 2011), I started playing a defensive role,” he recalled. “Then when I got to Calgary (in 2016), the coaching staff put a very high value on blocking shots.”

Washington Capitals’ Nic Dowd (26) tries to get around Edmonton Oilers’ Kris Russell (4) during third period NHL action in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday October 25, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

The Oilers practised in Las Vegas on Friday afternoon with this lineup:

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Tippett didn’t say whether Stuart Skinner or Mikko Koskinen will start in goal.

Catch the Oilers and Golden Knights on 630 CHED Saturday with the Faceoff Show at 3:30 p.m. MT. The game starts at 5 p.m.

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