The Oilers have announced that centre Leon Draisaitl will not be going to the World Juniors.
The Oilers are on the ice for morning skate in San Jose.
Line combinations are:
- PRACTICE | Wednesday wrap up
- RAW | Boyd Gordon
- RAW | Matt Hendricks
- RAW | Todd Nelson
- MINORS MINUTE | Episode 10
Boyd Gordon's demeanour is typically all business around the rink, but the veteran centre had reason to smile on Wednesday as it looks like he'll make his return to the #Oilers lineup tomorrow against the San Jose Sharks.
"I've had a good couple days getting back into the swing of things and I'm excited to get back in." Boyd Gordon pic.twitter.com/xSh0VpJVJA— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) December 17, 2014
Gordon has missed the last five games with a sore back, but he said the ailment has felt better during practice the last few days and he’s optimistic he will be 100% ready to return tomorrow.
"I’ve had a good couple days skating with the guys and things feel pretty good, so I’m excited to get back playing," Gordon said post-practice. “Sometimes your body gets a bit run down, and it was one of those situations where I needed to take some time to get (my back) better and close to 100%. It’s felt good the last couple skates and held up pretty well. "
Since signing with the Oilers as a free agent in July 2013, the 31-year-old has suited up for 101 games, registering 28 points and leading the team with a 56.4% success rate in the faceoff circle. Gordon also brings the intangibles, like killing penalties, blocking shots and providing a calming, veteran presence to the locker room.
“It means a lot, he’s a big part of our team," said Gordon's regular linemate Matt Hendricks. “Obviously one of the best centremen in the league in terms of faceoffs and penalty killing. He’s a great leader in the room and we’ve really missed his presence."
Gordon's impending return likely means Hendricks will shift back to the wing after filling the pivot role on the Oilers grinder line. Hendricks, who was previously a semi-regular centreman in Colorado, Washington and Nashville, did quite well back in the dot, winning 56% of his draws.
The Oilers have hit the ice for practice at SAP Center in San Jose.
Forward lines based on jersey colour:
Interim coaches Craig MacTavish and Todd Nelson are both on the ice running the team through drills. More updates to come.
“It’s a change," said Nugent-Hopkins. "I’m used to seeing Dallas back there for the past year and a half, it’s a little bit different, but I think as the game went on we got used to it. He’s a vocal guy so that really helped.”
Ference talked about his perception of the collective thoughts of his teammates as the transition occurs.
“I think everyone is trying to put solid games under their belts," Ference remarked. "Not missing their assignments, making sure that we are still concentrating on cleaning up our defensive zone and opportunities against. I think that’s still the focus whether it was last week, this week or whatever week it is. I think that’s always going to be a key for our team is to make sure we are selling our own end.”
Oilers coach Todd Nelson talked about having General Manager Craig MacTavish behind the bench with him as he coached the Oilers.
“It was nice having a guy with that much experience behind the bench with me, being able to consult with each other on different match-ups, line match-ups and strategies. It was a great experience for me.”
Overall, Nelson found a lot of positives as he started to get to know the Oilers a little better throughout the game.
“I saw a lot of positive things tonight. We have to focus on that and move forward. In overtime, they didn’t have a whole lot of quality chances until that last opportunity and I thought we did a good job in overtime just staying on top of the puck. I think we just have to focus on the good things, correct the things we have to get better at and just keep a positive outlook.”
Hall - Nugent-Hopkins - Purcell
Yakupov - Draisaitl - Eberle
Perron - Arcobello - Pitlick
Gazdic - Hendricks - Pinizzotto
Defence Pairings have changed:
Forward lines the same so Gordon still very much a question mark, D-pairs Ference-Petry, Davidson-Fayne, Hunt-Schultz.— Jack Michaels (@EdmontonJack) December 16, 2014
- RAW | Taylor Hall on coaching changes
- RAW | Jordan Eberle on coaching changes
- RAW | Andrew Ference on coaching changes
- RAW | Craig MacTavish Press Conference
- THE PANEL | Reaction to today's news
Oilers captain Andrew Ference spoke Monday about the news of the day -- head coach Dallas Eakins being relieved of his duties.
“It’s an awful day, I’m sure, for (MacTavish) to have to do that to a good man,” said Ference. “It’s the human side of the business without a doubt. He’s somebody that I think is an extremely good role model for the guys on this team, getting to know him the last little while.
“He’s a good coach that deserved a better fate here.”
Ference was asked whether he felt that a new voice would help change things and he put the onus on the players to buy into what any coach is trying to implement.
“The responsibility is on us. The Xs and Os can change, you can adjust those and move those around but the general philosophy of how you win at this level, it’s not that different from one successful team to the other. They might approach the game from a systems standpoint differently but from the way they play for each and with each other as a collective group, buying into whatever the coach says and tells you to do is an important thing.
“No matter what it is, the most important thing is buying in and doing what you’re told. I think that if you can do that as an individual and contribute your part to the team you’ll collectively have good success.
“It takes everybody to do it, to be part of the machine.”