After missing practice on Tuesday with a leg injury, Nail Yakupov was back on the ice Wednesday in Leduc prior to the team's departure for Nashville.
“I’m good now. Skating with the team and ready to go against Nashville,” he said to the media after practice.
Yakupov couldn't pinpoint the exact moment he injured his leg.
“It just happened some day. I don’t know what happened, but nothing serious,” he stated. “I’m ready to go and everything’s fine.”
The players were having some fun with Yakupov, saying that he took a Russian holiday yesterday but it was all in good fun. The Russian winger said he will be fresh for the Predators game with the extra day rest.
“Guys chirping me, saying atta boy Russian take it off yesterday but it will be good, I’ll be fresh and ready to get two points (in Nashville).”
Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins said that having only missed one game, he has no reservations with putting Yakupov back in the lineup Thursday.
“He couldn’t practice yesterday. We had to make sure his leg was all right, number one. Yak’s not a lazy kid. he’s a hard working guy. Him missing a day with an injury is no concern to us. If he misses a couple then you start questioning if you put him in or not."
So far, coach Eakins says that the decision to add Ilya Brzygalov to the Oilers crease has been a good one.
“I think he’s comfortable with his situation here. He knows how the game goes. This isn’t a young player coming who’s not quite sure how it works. He’s a veteran guy. He understands that whoever’s hot and whoever’s winning is going to be in the net. If it’s the other guy, he’s good with it. All that Bryz wants is our team to win. He’ll get his chance to run with it now and that’s what you need in the room. It’s all about the team success, not the individual’s ice time or the individual being on the power play or the individual being put with certain players, it should be about the team winning and that’s a real breath of fresh air for us.”
The bench boss added that Bryzgalov has fit in really well in the dressing room so far with the team as a whole in addition to being in a mentorship role with the club's other two Russians, Anton Belov and Nail Yakupov.
“The one thing I did ask of him was to try to help along and mentor Belov and Yakupov. I thought that was important. He’s such a friendly soul and he’s an intelligent guy. The one thing I have noticed is that he’s really fit in quickly with our group. I see him interacting and talking a lot and he’s keeping it light out there, even with his hard work in practice."
Coach Eakins remarked that today Bryzgalov was having some fun with the drills in Leduc.
"There’s a couple of things that happened in practice here today where (he made) a couple of big point-blank saves and in a cheering way, he’s yelling to me ‘there’s no cheating in this net, there’s no cheating in this crease.’ It was a message but he was saying it in a funny way so it kept it light."
Arcobello has been a healthy scratch for the past five games, as has Jones. The team has played well during this stretch so they have both been mainly victims of circumstance with the coach not wanting to tinker much with a winning lineup.
“I’m excited to get back in and hopefully I pick up where I left off,” said Arcobello.
Prior to the stretch of games from the press box, Arcobello had put up 12 points in 20 games and remains tied for sixth in rookie scoring in the NHL — and tied for first in rookie assists.
“It’s been kind of weird. They told me to get a place to stay and I haven’t played since then. I’m still ready. Nothing’s changed. I’m going to keep trying to play the same game.”
Nail Yakupov was asked about his leg injury, having missed practice on Tuesday. Yakupov said that he felt he was ready to play. Coach Eakins also said, Yakupov missing only one practice day he had no reservations about putting him back in the lineup.
Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins was asked if Jones or Arcobello would be likely to return to the lineup on Thursday in Nashville.
"I think both are likely (to play)," Eakins stated.
The Oilers practiced in Leduc Wednesday morning prior to depature for Nashville and the start of a three-game road trip.
Power Play Unit 1:
Power Play Unit 2:
Penalty Kill Unit 1:
Penalty Kill Unit 2:
The Oilers were without Nail Yakupov today at practice and Head Coach Dallas Eakins discussed his forward's absence during his media availability.
"He's got a banged up ankle or foot or something," said Eakins. "It was tender enough where he couldn't skate. We'll re-access it for tomorrow."
On the flip-side of things, the Oilers got back one of their injured players today. Defenceman Philip Larsen made his return to practice, his first skate with the team since suffering a back injury. Larsen has missed the last three games.
"It's a little weird to be on the ice again," said Larsen. "But I had a lot of fun. It was a nice feeling to get out there with the boys again and skate."
Whether or not he is close to game action is up to the coaching and medical staffs as they continue to evaluate Larsen's progress. But there is a chance he will travel with the team when they head to Nashville tomorrow morning.
"If he looks like he's getting close, and the assessment of him… they're probably looking at him right now," said Eakins. "For sure. He was playing extremely well. We miss him back there and it would be great to have another guy that can move the puck like that."
Mark Arcobello and Ryan Jones may return to the lineup very soon, after not playing in a game since November 13. Head Coach Dallas Eakins will look to plug them in somewhere and very soon, possibly on the Oilers upcoming road trip.
"I've got to talk to our other coaches about it but I do want to get Arcobello back in," said Eakins. "I do want to get Ryan Jones back in. This may turn into, depending how we're playing, a rotation process until we can get our lineup totally set.
"We've got guys on the cusp of, a lot of them have played well enough to be in the lineup. The problem is, we've got extra guys and those extra guys have played well enough to be in the lineup. That's something that we'll have to sort through but my vote is to get those guys back in and somebody coming out will have to take it on the chin even though they've probably played okay as well."
Arcobello has 12 points in 20 games this season for the Oilers while Jones has three points in 12 games.
Forward lines by jersey colour:
Gazdic-Acton-Jones (Arcobello as the extra forward)
Nail Yakupov is absent, while Larsen (back) is participating.
Coach Eakins mentioned that he would like to get Arcobello and Jones back in the lineup soon, perhaps against Nashville. He also said Bryzgalov will start against the Predators on Thursday.
Eakins said Yakupov hurt his foot in the game Monday and was unable to practice today.