The Oilers are on the ice for Monday’s practice at Rexall.
With the first few rushes, the lines looked as follows:
Defensive Pairings at Practice:
Oilers winger Taylor Hall has been named the NHL’s Third Star of the Week.
Hall is currently the team’s leading scorer with 13 points through 12 games. He is tied for the team lead in goals (5) with Connor McDavid.
For the week beginning on October 26 ending on November 1, Hall recorded seven points (2-5-7) in three games.
Hall has points in five straight games, including his three-point night on October 31 against Calgary. In that five-game span, Hall has three goals and six assists for nine points.
The Oilers have opened practice at Rexall Place with some skating drills led by Dave Pelletier.
There are only 13 skaters and two goalies on the ice at the start and lines haven’t been run.
Goaltender Anders Nilsson is wearing some new retro-style brown pads today.
With rookies, there’s a decision to be made at the nine-game mark, whether or not to send them to the minors or keep them in the NHL. With Connor McDavid, there’s no conversation and no decision to be made.
The 2015 first-overall pick has earned the right to stay in the NHL and isn’t going anywhere.
“It’s made,” Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan joked about the team’s decision regarding McDavid and the nine-game window. “We can clarify that. It’s made.”
McDavid, in his nine games, has nine points. He has scored five goals and added four assists. The rookie is riding a five game point streak and has points in six of his last seven games. McLellan talked about McDavid’s first nine NHL games, following the team’s 3-2 loss to Los Angeles.
“The young man has experienced a lot already in his career,” said McLellan. “If you look at it in a nine-game perspective, you start on the road in some tough buildings, the team plays well enough to be in games but doesn’t win. He feels a lot of pressure on himself because he hasn’t scored. Finally, he gets one and gives himself permission, I believe, to really get going. He’s been a dynamic player ever since. He’s dangerous every time he’s on the ice. I think he’s getting much wiser to the pace and what he can and can’t get away with. It’s fun to watch him. He energizes a lot of our players right now.”
McDavid assisted on the Oilers first goal against LA and nearly potted the game winner with 3.8 seconds left. McDavid is tied for the lead in rookie scoring with Arizona’s Max Domi (3-6-9 in eight games).
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Rob Klinkhammer has been given the opportunity to play with two highly skilled players in Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. He made the most of it on Friday night by scoring his first goal of the season, tipping in a centring feed from Hall.
What made the goal sweeter for Klinkhammer is that it was his chance for a little redemption.
“I felt it hit me. It hit my stick pretty hard. It’s kind of why I had that celebration,” said Klinkhammer. “I was pretty happy after it because that got me back to even on the night. That first PK goal was 100% my fault. It was a breakdown by me so it felt good to get back to even on the night.”
Klinkhammer is enjoying providing some size and heaviness to the top line.
“It’s great, obviously. Those two players are unbelievable,” he said. “They’re very creative, very high-skilled, two of the best players in the league. I’ve just got to keep up with them. I can’t slow those guys down. Get them the puck and get to the front of the net, kind of like last week.”
The Oilers have hit the ice for practice at Rexall Place. The forward lines remain the same, except for one small tweak. Iiro Pakarinen is on the right on the fourth line with Anton Slepyshev rotating in.
Iiro Pakarinen on the right side with Letestu and Gazdic this morning. Still no Griffin Reinhart.— Tom Gazzola (@TomGazzola) October 24, 2015
Griffin Reinhart is not participating.
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.
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.