The Oilers are on the ice for practice at Millennium Place in Sherwood Park. Taylor Hall skated on his own, then briefly with the team. Justin Schultz also made his return to practice. David Perron remains absent.
Hall skating with the #Oilers today at Millennium Place. JSchultz also back practicing after missing yesterday. Perron (back/neck) absent.— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) November 1, 2013
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Since being recalled from the American Hockey League, Ryan Jones has been steadily playing better and better for Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins.
The bench boss says it's due to Jones having a newly acquired desperation that has inspired an upswing in production on the ice.
"I think he's come back with desperation, that's for sure," said Eakins. "I think he's come back with a little desperation and now he's played some more hockey too, he's missed a bunch of games. We need Jonesy to play just how he has kind of the last couple of games. He's got to finish every check. That's not negotiable with Jonesy and he's doing a good job with that."
With Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on the receiving end of a knee-to-knee hit against Los Angeles last week, it was Jones who answered the bell and went after the offender later in the game. Jones and Kyle Clifford scuffled as the Oiler was sticking up for his teammate, something that didn't go unnoticed.
"He went and stuck up for one of his teammates. I don't expect that of him a whole lot. I challenge our group that we have to stick up for each other. It's everyone's job. He did that in the L.A game which took courage, so we like that out of him."
Eakins says that for Jones, it's all about sticking to his game.
"He's playing a simple game right now and that's what Jonesy is. He's going to skate up and down his wing, he's going to hit everything that moves and he's going to drive the net hard and cause a commotion there. That's where he'll be rewarded with his points. I've been encouraged with Jones over the last few games. I just find him to be more desperate now than he was in training camp."
The Oilers rank among the bottom five in the league in penalty kill at 76%, ahead of only Minnesota, Boston, Anaheim and Chicago.
Last season, special teams was a strength of the team where they were ranked ninth in the NHL at killing penalties at an 83.4% clip. New systems and personnel injuries could factor into the slow start for the Oilers.
Head Coach Dallas Eakins says he is still trying to tweak his PK unit, finding the best possible combination of players. While there will be more tweaking to come, the one thing that will hold strong is the aggressiveness of the system.
"The penalty kill… it's all new," said Eakins. The one thing we've changed as we've gone along is, we've changed our up-ice on a nightly basis, which isn't a big deal. That's not a big deal in the league. It's all, if Ovechkin and Backstrom are swinging to this side, it'd probably be pretty smart to take those guys away. In-game stuff.
"But the aggressiveness of it is something that is different for these guys and we're not going to change that. We're going to stay with it. I know it doesn't come naturally to some of our guys. I've had trouble getting a really good feel for the guys I want to kill penalties up front and it's kind of back and forth on performance. I feel over the last couple of games, we've got into the mix that we want to use and I think we've done a little bit better job at it."
Eakins also says the team's power play, which scored at a top ten NHL rate of 20.1%, has suffered do to personnel being in and out of the lineup due to injuries. This season, the team has a power play conversion rate of just 13%.
David Perron missed Tuesday's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs with an illness. While the Oilers forward is over that and feeling better, he is still day-to-day and missed practice this morning.
Head Coach Dallas Eakins says they'll see if he'll be ready to play on Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings.
"We'll see," said Eakins. "He wasn't feeling well the other day, I think he's over that. He's got a ton of pain in his back and up on his neck. He took some serious whacks the other night. He's kind of day-today. I'm hoping he'll be back tomorrow."
Oilers veteran forward Ryan Smyth, who has been out with a groin injury, skated with the team this morning at practice. He served as a defenceman, with Justin Schultz not participating and Denis Grebeshkov and Corey Potter both assigned to Oklahoma City.
Smyth says it felt good to get back out there with the team and he's been feeling much better.
"It's obviously nice to be around the guys again and get a feel for the pace," said Smyth. "It's feeling good.
"The groin is feeling good… It's something I have never experienced in my career. I've had some soreness in my groin but I've never pulled it. It's healing up well and, like I've said, it's nice to get back with the guys."
The timeline for Smyth's return is to be determined by the doctor and coaching staff.
"I'm feeling fairly decent. Obviously, we'll talk with the doc and we'll let them and the coaching staff make the decision. I just want to be healthy moving forward."
WATCH ARCHIVE: Dallas Eakins
The Oilers are on the ice for practice at Rexall Place on Thursday after taking Wednesday off.
Jones-RNH-Hemsky, Yakupov-Gagner-Eberle, Arcobello-Gordon-Lander/Hamilton, Gazdic-Acton-Eager..Smyth skating as a D. No J. Schultz— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) October 31, 2013
No David Perron on the ice this morning. Anton Lander present. Ryan Smyth filling in on D today. Grebeshkov and Potter clear waivers.— Tom Gazzola (@TomGazzola) October 31, 2013
Potter and Grebeshkov clear waivers, assigned to @OKCBarons.— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) October 31, 2013
The Canadian Hockey League, in association with the Ontario Hockey League, has announced the Team OHL rosters for the 2013 Subway Super Series.
Oilers prospect and the 7th overall pick in 2013, Darnell Nurse has been selected to represent the OHL to compete against the Russian National Junior Team in Game 3 of the series on Thursday November 21.
Nurse is one of only 29 players selected.
In 10 years of competition between the OHL and Russian National Junior Team, the OHL has a record of 19-1.
|"place defencemen Denis Grebeshkov and Corey Potter on waivers."
Grebeshkov has skated in three games for the Oilers this season, scoring no points while Potter has yet to suit up for the team this season.