Edmonton Oilers skilled forward Nail Yakupov sat out last night's game at his head coach's discretion. Dallas Eakins chose to make the call after Yakupov has struggled to produce early in the season.
"We just thought that he had gotten to a spot of frustration where the kid's passion is the score and he was just going to take it all on himself," said Eakins. "You can't do that. I don't care how good you are. You can't produce by yourself in this league. You have to use your line mates.
"It was more of a reset button for him and he can come back in fresh with a new perspective and we just started going through how we're going to go about this and how we're going to build this player. The guy's a young kid and he's got so much to learn about the game, the proper way to play the game. Once he grasps that, he's going to be a danger every time he steps on that ice."
Yakupov now understands that, despite his frustration, it's time for him to go to work and make his way back into the lineup.
"I think nobody is happy when they're not playing," said Yakupov. "It was frustrating but it's not my choice. It was coach's choice. That's a question for coach but I'm just getting ready for the next game and working hard. That's what I have to do, just work. It's all good."
Eakins says Yakupov will be back in the lineup very soon but he was unsure of whether or not it would be in the next game vs. Washington or the one after that in Pittsburgh.
Oilers goaltender Devan Dubnyk was noticeably taking last night's loss hard and his head coach commented on the net minder post game.
This morning Dubnyk talked to edmontonoilers.com about last night's game and how disappointed the dressing room was to let that one get away.
"It's disappointing," said Dubnyk. "I think it's disappointing for all of us. In a game we deserved to win, to come out with one point is disappointing. It's not what we deserved last night and we played well enough to win a game and if we keep doing that then we're going to be on the right side."
The back-stop was encouraged however, by the way the team has been coming together knowing that last night was one of, if not their best game of the season.
"I thought we out-played them. I thought we played a real good game. We worked hard, we got pucks in and we moved pucks up. Guys were in good spots. There were just a couple of small things and that's it. A bounce here or a save there and we're on the right side of that game.
Like I said, if we play like that and work as hard as we did we're going to win a lot of games in a row. It'll happen and it's going to happen soon. We're right there from starting to rattle off a bunch of wins in a row."
Coach Eakins says he is leaning towards playing Jason LaBarbera against Washington tomorrow night but had not committed to that 100%, leaning on his assistant coaches for their opinions before a decision will be made.
In a game where offence was clicking and scored five goals, the Edmonton Oilers failed to produce on defence resulting in a 6-5 overtime loss.
Oilers goaltender Devan Dubnyk stopped 20 of 26 shots and seemed to take the loss especially hard.
"I think all of our guys are taking it extra hard," said Head Coach Dallas Eakins. "That kid's in there and he's fighting. He's fighting and he cares and he wants to win and he understands his position is one that people are very critical of. Listen, all our players take these heavily. That's a tough way to lose a game after you've fought hard for 60 minutes."
Head Coach Dallas Eakins did some tinkering with the forward lines before tonight's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. In a 6-5 overtime loss, the line of Ryan Smyth, Mark Arcobello and Jordan Eberle was a big bright spot for the Oilers.
"I thought they were excellent," said Eakins. "I thought they were moving. Smyth had great life in his legs tonight. Arcobello and Eberle were really controlling the puck well, they had some great net drives. The one goal that they hit Smyth on the back door was excellent. That was a real good line for us."
That line combined for three goals with Smyth finishing with two goals, Eberle with one and Arcobello finishing the game with three assists.
"I felt good," said Arcobello. "I was comfortable, I was making plays and confident with the puck. I think it was one of those games where things were going well for me. I felt pretty confident."
Although it was just the first time this line competed with one another, signs were that it was a good fit.
"We found some chemistry tonight and hopefully, if this is the way coach wants it, we'll produce," said Smyth.
Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins has been frank when speaking of forward Nail Yakupov's struggles early in the season.
Four games into his third season with the Oilers, the 20-year-old has registered 0 points and has is -3. Eakins decided to sit the young forward tonight for the game against Toronto.
"I think Yakupov will tell you the same thing," said Eakins. "He hasn't been up to speed. He's been out of sorts. The kid has such a great passion for the game. I've got a lot of time for Yakupov, he's going to be an excellent, excellent player in this league. But rather than let this keep going on and the struggle become deeper and deeper, I thought it was time to hit the reset button and get him out of the lineup and let him watch a game. I've always found it's a great way to get a new perspective on the game when you're struggling… That kid has such a passion and work ethic that he'll rebound quickly."
In an article in the National Post, writer Michael Traikos spoke with several Toronto Maple Leafs players who had been impacted by the Edmonton Oilers rookie head coach. Traikos says in all, 12 current Leafs players were coached and influenced by Dallas Eakins with the Marlies in the AHL.
"He really cared about the guys,” said defenceman Carl Gunnarsson. “I remember when [was] I called up, I got called into his office and he said, ‘Gunnar, get out of here. I don’t want to see you again.’ It’s funny, but that was his job to get guys out of the AHL.”
Nazem Kadri added:
“He was pretty instrumental in my development and my career. Obviously, I’m thankful for that. I just wish him the best of luck. Just not tonight."
It bodes well for the Oilers organization that their new bench boss leaves such an impact on the careers of young players. Especially considering the young talent on the Oilers roster in need of a little push.
Here is Nazem Kadri pre-game in Toronto:
The Oilers left the ice after their 4-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens feeling like they lost out on a good opportunity to earn the win.
They just didn't capitalize when they needed to.
"Sometimes it happens like that and it's just a matter of fighting through and the little things that make a difference in hockey games," said Oilers forward Ryan Smyth. "Whether it's a little chance you had or hit the post or whatever, you make your breaks in this game and unfortunately we didn't tonight."
The game also came down to breaks that didn't go their way.
"Instead of going off a post and not going in you'd like to see it go in and see what happens," said Head Coach Dallas Eakins. "Their first power play goes right between (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins') legs. We were in good position and it just happens to get through there."
Eakins told the media in his post game presser that tonight was probably the most solid game the team has played to date but things didn't work out the way they wanted.
"It's one of those things. You hate losing, it's disappointing, it leaves a bitter taste in your mouth but the same part of me says okay, we played better. We got better. That's an important thing as well but surrendering two points is not a fun thing."
The Oilers have several walking wounded but could get those players back soon, just not tonight against Montreal.
"(Denis Grebeshkov) is going to meet with the doctor tonight," said Head Coach Dallas Eakins. "We're hopeful that he gets cleared.
"(Corey) Potter was just getting out some extra work. I haven't gotten the 48 hour heads up that he's going to be joining us. (Jesse) Joensuu will travel with us on the road. He should be back to practice soon."
Sam Gagner also skated with the team but is still a ways off.
The Oklahoma City Barons, the Oilers American Hockey League affiliate, will make two appearances on Sportsnet 360 in Canada and NHL Network in the United States.
The Barons will appear on the network on Sunday February 23, at 2 p.m. MST when they play in Toronto against the Marlies.
They will make their second appearance on television on Sunday April 13, at Abbotsford. That game is also a 2 p.m. start time.
“It’s great exposure for our hockey club, players, as well as our staff,” Barons Head Coach Todd Nelson said in a press release. “Anytime you can be on national television is tremendous. It’s going to be great exposure for our team, and I’m pretty sure they will be fired up for those games.”
VIDEO: Post-Practice Video | Dallas Eakins | Ryan Smyth | Devan Dubnyk | Boyd Gordon
AUDIO: Dallas Eakins | Ryan Smyth | Devan Dubnyk| Boyd Gordon
After Jason LaBarbera replaced goaltender Devan Dubnyk as the starter on Monday night against the New Jersey Devils, Head Coach Dallas Eakins told the media that the team would be going back to Dubnyk in net for tomorrow night against Montreal.
Dubnyk has had a rough start to his season. In two starts and 92 minutes of play, he has a 6.52 goals against average, an 0-2 record and a .831 save percentage. However, the Oilers bench boss is confident that the net minder can bounce back tomorrow night.
"He takes it personally, which is a good thing, but it can also be your nemesis," said Eakins. You have to let it go and be free. Even though your goal is to have 82 great nights during the season, it's probably not going to happen and you've got to understand that. He's had a couple of goals that he'd like back. He's made some huge saves too along there.
"The goalie makes saves, well he's supposed to do that. He lets in a goal, well that's the highlight. That's what everybody points their finger at. I think he just needs to settle down, understand the process. He's excited to go back in the net tomorrow which is a good thing. He's not shying away from it and we'll see how he is."
Dubnyk is ready for another opportunity to prove himself.
"I know what I've got to do to go play, I've done it lots before," said Dubnyk. "I'm just excited to get out there and do it again tomorrow."