Coming off of back-to-back games and it being New Year's Day, the Oilers held practice in Denver. Oilers interim head coach Todd Nelson said that while it probably wasn't a popular decision in the dressing room, it was necessary to get the team back on the ice.
“I’m sure there was a few groans when we called practice today but it wasn’t a tough day. We went out there and snapped the puck around. We got through five or six drills. We wanted to keep the tempo and pace up. We only went for half an hour. It wasn’t tough from that aspect. We got some good work in,” Nelson began, adding that he feels that the team needs to continue to get on the ice and improve.
“As a coach, I feel like I don’t want to have the guys lose what they’re gaining. I think we have a pretty good handle on rest versus work. It wasn’t a tough day and now they have the rest of the day to get rested up for a game tomorrow.”
Benoit Pouliot agreed with the coach, saying particularly with the altitude in Denver it was good to get on the ice.
“Coming to Colorado, It’s always a little tougher coming to practice and play. The altitude doesn’t really help but it was good. It was a good 20 to 30 minutes and we’ll be ready tomorrow.”
It is believed that Pitlick suffered the injury on a hit from Calgary's Lance Bouma. The amount of time Pitlick will be out has not yet been determined.
Pitlick has been placed on injured reserve.
After missing 18 games with a broken foot, it appears that Benoit Pouliot is ready to get back into the lineup for the Oilers Friday against the Colorado Avalanche.
“He is very close," said Oilers interim head coach Todd Nelson. "At the start of practice, he was cleared for practice. I talked to him after and he says he feels really good. We’re going to see how the skate goes tomorrow morning and base our decision there. He feels that his game conditioning is where it should be at so it’s just a matter of going through practice tomorrow.”
Pouliot added that he thinks he's ready to go but ultimately it's up to Coach Nelson and the training staff.
“I feel great,” said Pouliot. “I think if I get the chance to go tomorrow, I’m ready for sure to go. It’s going to be the coach’s decision.”
The winger was asked about his recovery routine as he attempted to stay in game shape throughout the six-week period.
“It’s a lot of work. It’s always in the gym, every day, every morning with Chad, our trainer. There’s a lot of bike, a lot of weights and treatment,” he said. “I’m right on my timeline. It was six weeks and I think I’m right there.”
The Oilers are on the ice for practice at the Pepsi Center in Colorado. It is an optional practice and Tyler Pitlick and Taylor Hall are not skating.
Pouliot - RNH - Eberle
Purcell - Roy - Yakupov
Perron - Draisaitl - Fraser
Hendricks - Gordon - Pinizzotto/Gazdic
Optional practice in Denver today. No Hall, Pitlick. Pouliot close. Aulie skating, waiting to hear from league. pic.twitter.com/XvHBBaTB6j— Jack Michaels (@EdmontonJack) January 1, 2015
Oilers forward Derek Roy talked about his injury scare on Tuesday against the Kings.
In his debut with the Oilers, Roy assisted on a Matt Hendricks goal on his second shift of the game and on his third shift, a skate stepped on his ankle, cutting him open.
"I knew something was up but I wanted to keep playing. (The trainer) said no, I have to come off," said Roy. "I didn't know it was bleeding."
After missing the rest of the first period, Roy was out there to start the second. He was cut for four stitches.
"It's tender and sore," he said, but indicated he doesn't expect it to be an issue tonight against the Flames.
Newly-acquired Oilers winger Matt Fraser will wear number 28, the team announced today. Fraser was claimed off waivers this morning at 10:00 a.m. MST.
Matt Fraser will wear #28 with the #Oilers.— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) December 29, 2014
Until this past Monday, Oilers interim head coach Todd Nelson was the only head coach in Oklahoma City Barons history. He gave his thoughts on the franchise announcing today that they would cease operations at the end of the season.
“It’s disappointing that things couldn’t work out. The years I’ve been there were outstanding. The people there treat you unbelievable," Nelson began. "My family loved it there and all the players really enjoyed playing there. It’s unfortunate that things didn’t work out, but it’s business.”
Nelson touched on the fact that attendance wasn't quite what they had hoped in Oklahoma City.
“They were doing an extensive job of trying to get people in the seats and it was getting better but it wasn’t as consistent as they wanted it to be.”
He was also asked by the tornadoes, which became a story the past few years, particularly when the Barons had a playoff game postponed in May 2013.
“We had a couple of close calls over the years. It’s pretty odd but just a week or so ago some tornadoes touched down. I’m not pretending to be a cagey veteran with the weather but it had an impact on everybody around there.”
The Oilers have announced that centre Leon Draisaitl will not be going to the World Juniors.
Draisaitl said after morning skate that he was happy with whatever the Oilers decided on the matter.
“Either way would be a good thing for me,” he stated.
The German centre also added that he would be rooting hard for his squad in the tournament.
“Usually the goal for a German team is to stay in the top division and that’s going to be the same this year. I hope they get it done and I’m definitely going to be cheering for them this year.”
The Oilers are on the ice for morning skate in San Jose.
Line combinations are:
“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.”