Oilers winger Nail Yakupov has been given an opportunity to play in the top six and he has run with it. Yakupov has points in four of the last five games and three straight. In that span, the 22-year-old has posted two goals and four assists for six points.
“He’s starting to figure out what will make him successful,” said Yakupov’s linemate Benoit Pouliot. “He’s going to the right spot, he’s doing the right things and you can see the success he’s having now. He’s getting much better at being more consistent, and following the game plan. I think it helps us. It helps me and (Connor) McDavid a lot.”
Yakupov didn’t start camp or the regular season in the role he has now, but he moved up the ranks due to injury and circumstance. He has earned more of an opportunity with good play along the way. His setup of Mark Letestu in last night’s win over Detroit was a nice play and a smart decision in his own end led to McDavid’s highlight-reel goal later in the game.
“I think he’s earned it. It’s not me rewarding him. It’s him rewarding himself for some really good play and the ability to create on that line,” said Head Coach Todd McLellan. “That line has been very reliable, it’s been dynamic, it’s been good offensively and, more importantly, it’s been fairly good defensively. He should feel good about himself, he should feel good about his linemates, and they should want to keep this alive. That’s their goal now, to keep this line alive, to keep it energized and productive. I believe that Yak’s offence right now is coming from good defensive positioning by his linemates and by him, taking care of responsibilities away from the puck and thus creating opportunities offensively.”
Following their 3-1 win last night over Detroit, the Oilers have hit the ice for Thursday's practice.
Davidson rotating in, while Reinhart is absent.
Though the Red Wings and Oilers kept pace with each other, Edmonton ended up walking away with the 3-1 win tonight.
“Those two quick goals there for them hurt us,” said Henrik Zetterberg, when reflecting on the nights events.
“I think in the first there we had five shots but it felt like we had a lot more. We felt pretty good after the first period,” said the Zetterberg.
“It was a pretty tight game the whole way. They’re playing with some better structure and when they get the odd-man rushes — you can’t give them that — they’re really good.”
Progress always involves risk and Zetterberg says that some adjustments have been made, and will continue to be made, until they find the right chemistry that works.
“We tried to change it up a bit today, tried to play a little different, we’ve got to get more shots though and the power play has to be better. We know what has to be done and what has to be better and we just have to keep going at it.”
"I thought we improved at a lot of things but there are things we have to get better at for sure." - Coach Blashill— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) October 22, 2015
As Oilers radio play-by-play host Jack Michaels said, Dylan Larkin is “the first teenager to crack the Red Wings line-up in 25 years.”
“He has all the tools,” said Henrik Zetterberg.
Selected 15th overall by Detroit in the 2014 NHL Draft, Larkin has already posted two goals and added four assists for the team this season.
“He’s a great skater first of all, but he knows how to play the game. He’s more mature than a 19-year-old. He’s older, both on and off the ice and it shows.”
From a new linemate to a new coach, Zetterberg says it’s been a bit of a backwards adjustment for the veterans on the team.
“Half the team here had (Blashill) in Grand Rapids so they recognize all the drills in practice right away,” said the veteran player.
“It’s us older guys that have to restart our brains in practice. We’ve been doing the same drills for 10 years and now we have totally new drills in practice, that’s the change.”
However, Zetterberg says that although there has been change, keeping their rhythm hasn’t been too challenging.
“It’s a new voice. That’s the biggest thing for us guys, especially guys who have been here a long time with Mike, but system-wise it’s pretty similar,” said Zetterberg.
“Maybe a little more offensive allowed, but overall it’s not that big a difference.”
BLOG POSTS & FEATURES
- BLOG: Road wins provide confidence boost
- BLOG: Hall finding a rhythm
- BLOG: Tuesday practice updates
- Top 5 Tuesday: Oilers vs. Red Wings
- PRACTICE | Miller called up
- PRACTICE RAW | Taylor Hall
- PRACTICE RAW | Lauri Korpikoski
- PRACTICE RAW | Andrew Miller
- PRACTICE RAW | Connor McDavid
- PRACTICE RAW | Todd McLellan
The Oilers players and coaches couldn't rest easy with just moral victories as they played well against tough opposition but couldn’t get a win through the first four games of the season.
This past weekend, the Oilers went on the road and took down two Pacific Division opponents in their arenas. Edmonton cruised by Calgary 5-2 on Saturday and beat Vancouver in overtime on Sunday.
Those are the kind of wins the team hopes can lead to more confidence, more production and more positivity moving forward.
“It definitely helps out our team, confidence wise,” said Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. “I thought those were two really good games for us. We were pretty consistent throughout both those games. It’s something that we’ve obviously been working on this year, consistency in our play, and we showed that the last two games and against two rivals like that. Getting wins in their building is big for us.”
Head Coach Todd McLellan talked about the team working hard and needing a reward for that work. They got two this weekend and look for a third tomorrow night against Detroit.
Taylor Hall has been finding a rhythm these last few games.
To start the season, Hall and the Oilers were searching for offence. Hall had nine shots on goal in Nashville, but couldn’t find the back of the net as Pekka Rinne shut out the Oil. In Dallas the next game, the Oilers top left winger managed two shots on goal and ended the game still looking for his first points.
Since then, Hall is +4 in the last three games and has two goals and two assists as Edmonton is coming off its first two victories.
“I think he’s a little more sure of himself,” said Head Coach Todd McLellan. “He can be more aggressive, he can be skating through checks, bullying through the net, throwing pucks on the net. He’s been quite responsible defensively. There’s a lot of positive signs in his game right now. I thought earlier, when it wasn’t going quite well for him, there was a sense of frustration that held him back. I don’t see that as much anymore. He’s been effective for us, obviously.”
The last few games have been an encouraging sign for Hall and the team as a whole. They have a tough test at home against Detroit tomorrow night.
“You play well, you do some really good things in your game but you don’t get wins and that doesn’t count for much in this league,” said Hall. “It’s nice to get a couple wins, not only for our team but for our fan base. Hopefully, it’s a good atmosphere tomorrow night (against the Red Wings). I think we’re starting to really feel ourselves out and play our game.”
The Oilers are on the ice for practice at Rexall Place.
Freshly recalled Andrew Miller is skating in dark blue with the top six forwards.
Gazdic-Letestu-Klinkhammer (Slepyshev rotating in)
Griffin Reinhart is not on the ice.
(Davidson rotating in)
The Oilers announced that they have recalled winger Andrew Miller from the AHL Bakersfield Condors. In four games, Miller has a goal and two assists for three points, including the first-ever goal in Condors history.
In the corresponding move, they placed forward Matt Hendricks (foot) on injured reserve.
BLOG POSTS & FEATURES
- BLOG: McLellan comments on coaching at the World Cup
- BLOG: Team making progress
- BLOG: Oilers on the ice Friday
- BLOG: McLellan to coach U23 North American squad
- BLOG: Oilers shake up power play units
- PRACTICE | Friday at Rexall Place
- PRACTICE RAW | Coach Todd McLellan
- PRACTICE RAW | Connor McDavid
- PRACTICE RAW | Mark Letestu
- PRACTICE RAW | Ryan Nugent-Hopkins