St. Louis Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock expected a competitive battle against the Oilers tonight. This morning after the Blues skate, Hitchcock said he sees a different Edmonton team.
After the Blues skated away with a 2-1 victory at Rexall Place, Hitchcock was not surprised by the game they got from the Oilers, who have improved their play over recent weeks despite injuries to the lineup.
“You get no inside ice now,” Hitchcock said. “You get no inside ice. They don’t chase tired. You get them in their zone and you keep possession, but they don’t chase. They leave you on the outside and it’s hard to get second and third chances. The chances we got were original chances, but if you look at the game I don’t think we had three second chances. It’s because they step on you. They keep you to the outside, they don’t overcommit and they don’t get caught with chasing contact so you might have possession but you’re not really accomplishing very much.”
The Oilers have taken the ice for practice at Clareview Recreation Centre.
The lines by jersey colour are as follows:
(Gazdic & Fraser)-Gordon-Klinkhammer
Pitlick and Nikitin are in non-contact yellow
There are 20 games remaining in the 2014-15 NHL season. Without playoffs on the radar, the Oilers look to other goals to close out the year.
“I think we can play the role of spoiler moving forward,” Oilers Interim Coach Todd Nelson said. “If teams are on the bubble, we’re not going to be in the playoffs so maybe we can go out there and spoil some teams’ chances. I think that’s the way we have to approach it. I think we have to come every day in practices and games to work hard to get better and the guys understand that.”
But overall, the goal is the same it has been every day, and that’s to continue to improve individually as players while coming together as a team. Those were Nelson’s goals coming in as an interim coach and he hopes they see them out.
“Just like we’ve always talked about, trying to get better every day as individuals but also as a team,” Nelson said. “Today I liked what I saw on the ice. The guys were applying the things that we’re teaching and now that has to translate to the game. Based on today, from what I saw, it looks like we’re getting better little by little every day and that has to continue. I think as a staff we have to keep on stressing that let’s come to the rink, let’s improve, let’s try to make ourselves better so we become better hockey players and a better hockey team.”
Nail Yakupov took to the ice at Clareview Recreation Centre today and once again participated in all of the drills. It looks as though the Oilers winger will be ready to return to game action tomorrow night against St. Louis, after nursing a groin injury.
Oilers Interim Coach Todd Nelson all but confirmed it.
“It looks like it,” Nelson said. “He skated good today, worked hard and it looks like he’s back to normal.”
As for who Yakupov would replace in the lineup, Nelson says he hasn’t discussed that with General Manager Craig MacTavish yet.
“Craig and I haven’t had discussions with that. We’ll discuss it later on today,” Nelson said.
Martin Marincin was a topic of discussion following yesterday’s practice as he has started to move forward in his development after a slow start to the season, which included assignment to Oklahoma City out of training camp.
The book on Marincin is that he can make solid defensive plays and be a reliable blueliner, but needs to work on his battle in the corners and in front of the net. Oilers Interim Coach Todd Nelson said yesterday that he showed signs of that in the Oilers last game against Minnesota, even helping his team close out the waning seconds of that one-goal victory.
Marincin has seen growth in this area as well, saying his battle is getting better.
“Yes, it’s great,” Marincin said. “I feel stronger, like I said before the season so for me it is about going to the net and being stronger in front of the net and play simple.”
For players like Marincin, who need to make adjustments to their game along their development path, Nelson thinks communication is key. After spending time in OKC working with young prospects, that’s the process Nelson says he uses to help young players like Marincin adjust to the pros and become better players.
“Besides the work on the ice that we try to get better at, I think we have to have communication and it has to be a two-way street,” Nelson said. “They have to let me know what they need help with. I can identify some things but there are other things they may want to work on so it’s just constant communication with the player and just trying to help them in certain areas. It’s not only the on-ice play, but maybe it’s the off-ice stuff as well, like getting adjusted to North America if you’re a European player. Things like that. I think it’s constant communication.”
The Oilers have taken the ice at Rexall Place for practice.
Pitlick and Nikitin are both wearing non-contact yellow.
Nail Yakupov sat out the game in Minnesota with a groin injury, but was back on the ice today at Rexall Place. The Oilers winger competed in all the drills and participated in the extra conditioning at the end of practice.
“I felt pretty good,” Yakupov said. “I pushed as hard as I can. I went out a little earlier to see how my leg was going. I think everything was fine and then I got lucky with that skate at the end. Should be feeling pretty good. We’ll see tomorrow, but I hope I’ll be back in the lineup soon.”
Yakupov says he didn’t enjoy watching his team compete without him in Minnesota and hopes he’s ready soon.
“That wasn’t a great feeling at all,” Yakupov said. “I don’t like to watch the game from upstairs, but I still was kind of nervous. I wanted my team to get two points and they did, so it was a good feeling.”
He may be back sooner than later, possibly even on Saturday against St. Louis.
“It looks pretty good, based on what I saw today. He practiced well and we’ll see how it reacts tomorrow,” Oilers Interim Coach Todd Nelson said.
The Oilers had a 23-year-old defenceman on the ice in the waning seconds of their 2-1 win over Minnesota on Tuesday night. Martin Marincin helped the Oilers run out the clock and preserve the one-goal victory.
Having Marincin on the ice in a crucial moment signifies trust in his game and development in the player. Oilers Interim Coach Todd Nelson says the biggest thing Marincin has improved on lately is his assertiveness when it comes to puck battles in the hard areas. He showed that against Minnesota.
“I think, his battle. That’s one thing we’ve always tried to work on with him,” Nelson said. “Last game in the last minute or 40 seconds or whatever he really competed hard and we saw that trend throughout the game. He has a good, long stick and that’s fine, but when it comes to a battle in front of the net and in corners we liked what we saw and that’s why he was out there.”
The Bakersfield Condors announced this evening that their name will remain the Condors when they move into the American Hockey League next season.
Oilers longtime locker room assistant Joey Moss will be inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in the achievement category. The ceremony will take place at the Sheraton Hotel in Red Deer, AB on Friday, May 29.
Moss, born with Down syndrome, first joined the Oilers in 1984 when he was brought into the organization by Wayne Gretzky.
For years, Moss has served as an inspiration to the citizens of Edmonton and is somewhat of a celebrity. His likeness appears on a mural on 99th street in Edmonton. He has won numerous awards for personal achievement, including the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee and the NHL Alumni Association’s Seventh Man Award.RELATED: