Jujhar Khaira continues to get his chance to show the coaching staff what he’s all about. On Thursday night against San Jose, the 21-year-old forward recorded his second career NHL assist and displayed his toughness with his first NHL fight.
Khaira crushes Justin Braun with a clean, hard hit behind the net and then answered the bell by dropping the gloves with Brenden Dillon.
“I was just trying to be hard to play against,” said Khaira. “Behind the net, I had the opportunity to hit someone and I did. Like any good teammate, he’s going to stick up for his guy 100 percent of the time. I feel that anybody on our team would do the same. I thought the fight went well, it was fun. A couple bumps and bruises, but it was good.”
Khaira is just six games into his NHL career, but he has shown off size and physicality and has been able to play in a top-six role the last few contests. What the Oilers want now is to see just a little bit more and they want the young forward to believe in his own abilities, because the club believes in him.
“I like his physicality, his size, and I think there’s more there,” said Head Coach Todd McLellan. “I think he has to get his confidence up. We’re playing him like we really believe in him and he’s got to believe in himself a little bit more because I think there’s more there. He’ll learn situations a little bit better, but his size offset a little bit of their size tonight.”
Khaira’s assist was a nice pass out in front on Jordan Eberle’s game-tying goal at 8:21 of the third.
Anton Lander had, by all accounts, a very good training camp and pre-season. He led the Oilers in scoring with five goals and six total points. However, so far through eight games, Lander has been held scoreless in the regular season.
Head Coach Todd McLellan says you have to look past the boxscore to evaluate Landers performance.
“You have to watch Anton fairly close to understand his contributions. A good camp for him is three goals in one game and all that type of stuff. I don’t think he’s that type of player consistently so we don’t evaluate him that way. You have to look at faceoffs, you have to look at his ability to penalty kill, be responsible on the ice. You’re not going to drive home at night and get all excited about Anton and the plays and the smoothness in his game but if you go back and watch it again you’ll appreciate the details he has defending, doing some of the little things, taking and giving direction on the ice. He’s one of the few guys that actually is fairly vocal all the time, which is nice. He does do some things there.”
Lander played 19:54 against Washington on Friday night. He was even for the game with four shots on goal in the 7-4 loss.
Oilers second-year forward Nail Yakupov has had his fair share of adversity and story lines surrounding him this season. However, he seems to be slowly progressing and is currently on a three-game point streak.
Yakupov credits his teammates and linemates with helping him through the tough times.
"I feel much better," said Yakupv. "It's all about the teammates, line mates who have helped me every shift. It's an easy thing when you see from the bench guys working hard and then you're doing the same thing and it's very simple and very easy to play because you see the guys fighting for each other and working hard, playing hard and we're scoring a lot of goals. It's a good thing and you try to keep going the same way."
C.J. Stretch scored the first two goals for the Oklahoma City Barons, who defeated the Abbotsford Heat 4-1 Saturday night at Cox Convention Center. The Barons victory gave them a split on the weekend series and ended the Heat’s winning streak at nine games.
The Barons got on the board first at 12:37 of the second period when Andrew Miller won a race to the puck and fed Stetch a pass from behind the Heat net. Stretch added his second at 19:40 when Austin Fyten gathered the puck in the Heat zone and dropped the puck back for Stretch in the slot where his shot beat Joey MacDonald. Stretch’s two goals extended his point streak to four games, a season high for the Barons. Austin Fyten and Andrew Miller assisted on both goals as the line of Fyten, Stretch and Miller continued their productive play over the weekend.
Paul Byron brought the Heat back within one-goal at 9:59 of the third period, but Linus Omark regained the Barons’ two-goal lead on a powerplay goal less than two minutes later.
Down 3-1, the Heat pulled MacDonald for an extra attacker, but Ben Eager gathered a neutral zone turnover on the right wing and put the Barons up 4-1 with the empty net goal at 18:27 of the third period. The Eager goal gave the Barons their largest margin of victory on the season to date.
Ilya Bryzgalov was sharp for the Barons all night as he stopped 25 of 26 shots in his second straight appearance for the Barons to earn the win. The Barons were 1-for-3 on the power play, while the Heat were held scoreless in their four power play chances. Bryzgalov made some of his biggest saves to keep the Barons penalty kill perfect on the night.
Stretch earned the first star, Fyten was second star and Bryzgalov was the third star of the victory. With the victory the Barons improved to 7-7-0-2 on the season, while Abbotsford dropped to 13-5-0-1, which is still an AHL best.
The Barons next action will be Tuesday, November 19 at 10:30 a.m. when they head to the AT&T Center to play the San Antonio Rampage.
Click here for the boxscore: http://theahl.com/stats/game-summary.php?game_id=1011326