INSIDE THE OILERS
POSTED ON Tuesday, 05.19.2015 / 4:39 PM MT
By Marc Ciampa - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Todd McLellan was asked about his playoff record with the Sharks, but McLellan was quick to point out that the Oilers were looking to get better in many aspects, not just postseason.

“We’re not going to talk about playoffs here. We’re going to talk about foundation. We’re going to talk about creating an identity and building towards it. The playoff part of it exists after you accomplish those regular season things and we’ve got work to do there first of all,” McLellan began.

He added that he felt that the Sharks got a bad rap when people referred to their playoff failures, noting that often the team that eliminated them went on to win the championship.

“As far as San Jose goes, we had a lot of successes in the playoffs in my opinion. We ended up losing to some very good teams. Chicago, Los Angeles, teams that went on to win the Stanley Cup. And sometimes you get beat by a better team. It’s as simple as that.

“Maybe you’re not at the top of your game. Maybe you’re short in some areas. Whether it’s skill, strength, toughness. It’s what the playoffs are about. You play, you find out what went right, what went wrong as an organization. Then you evaluate it and try to go out and fix it the next year.

“We were close. We had really good teams. They still have a tremendous team there. They’ve got some tremendous athletes in that locker room. They’ll be a force to be reckoned with. But it was just time for the players and the coach to refresh, I guess is the best word.”

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 05.19.2015 / 10:11 AM MT
By Marc Ciampa - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers announced this morning that there will be a press conference later today (2:00 PM).

You can watch the press conference LIVE on the Oilers Mobile App and also right here at edmontonoilers.com.

View the live feed directly in YouTube (with live chat).

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POSTED ON Monday, 05.18.2015 / 10:24 PM MT
By George Darkow - Oklahoma City Barons / Inside the Oilers

UTICA, N.Y. — Behind a 33-save performance by goalie Richard Bachman, the Oklahoma City Barons defeated the Utica Comets 2-1 Monday night at the Utica Memorial Auditorium to force a seventh game in the best-of-seven AHL Calder Cup Playoffs Western Conference Semifinal round. Game seven is Wednesday at Utica.

Despite the Comets outshooting the Barons 34-21 for the game, and 25-8 in the final two periods, Bachman didn’t allow a goal until 14:13 of the final frame. Near the end of the second period, Utica managed to put a puck into the OKC net, but the goal was waved off due to interference.

Oklahoma City took an early 1-0 lead, when Brad Hunt picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and maneuvered around several Utica defenders before shoveling a backhand shot that trickled past Comets goalie Jacob Markstrom. The goal at 5:23 of the first period was Hunt’s third of the postseason.

After more than two periods worth of scoreless play, the Barons increased their lead to 2-0 at 8:26 of the third period. Following a Brad Hunt dump of the puck into the Utica zone, a carom off the end boards brought the puck back to a streaking Hamilton, who wristed a shot past Markstrom from the left-wing side. The goal was Hamilton’s team-high fifth postseason goal.

Utica cut Oklahoma City’s lead to 2-1 with 5:47 to play in regulation, when a save by Bachman on a shot by Alex Friesen was rebounded by Sven Baertschi, who flipped the puck past the Barons net minder as he dived to cover the vacated side of the net.

Despite a flurry of shots in the final moments of play, key blocks by Barons defenseman Dillon Simpson and center Connor Jones helped preserve Oklahoma City’s one-goal lead.

Game Six marked the eighth time in franchise history the Barons faced elimination in the Calder Cup Playoffs, with all eight occurring on the road. After Monday’s win, Oklahoma City is now 4-4 all-time in elimination games.

Oklahoma City has played one Game Seven in franchise playoff history, a 5-4 loss at Grand Rapids in the 2013 Western Conference Finals. Current Barons C.J. Stretch, Brandon Davidson and Martin Marincin took part in the game, with Davidson recording an assist.

Wednesday’s winner-take-all seventh game of the series is a 6 p.m. CDT start at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.

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POSTED ON Friday, 05.15.2015 / 11:35 PM MT
By Marc Ciampa - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Connor McDavid won the Wayne Gretzky '99' Award as MVP of the playoffs despite the Erie Otters dropping a 6-2 decision to Oshawa, losing the championship series in five games.

From the OHL's press release:

The top 2015 NHL Draft prospect led the OHL Playoffs in scoring with 21 goals, 28 assists and 49 points in 20 games, the most points in a postseason since Justin Papineau's OHL record of 51 in 1999.

McDavid, an 18 year-old centreman from Newmarket, ON, had two goals, four assists and six points in five games during the Rogers OHL Championship Series, leading the Otters deep into the playoffs for the second straight season. He had points in 18 of his 20 playoff contests.

The Otters captain recorded a total of five multi-goal games throughout the 2015 OHL Playoffs, highlighted by a five-goal performance in a 7-3 win over the London Knights on April 10.

McDavid becomes the second Otters player to win the award after Brad Boyes earned the distinction in 2002.

The OHL introduced the Wayne Gretzky 99 Award in 1999 to honour the Most Valuable Player in the OHL Playoffs as selected by the media. Gretzky, a native of Brantford, graduated from the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds to become the most prolific scorer in the history of the NHL. The league created the award in tribute of 'The Great One' shortly after he announced his retirement from the NHL in 1999.

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POSTED ON Thursday, 05.14.2015 / 9:52 PM MT
By George Darkow - Oklahoma City Barons / Inside the Oilers

Jacob Markstrom stopped 33 shots for the Utica Comets, who downed the Oklahoma City Barons 3-1 Thursday night at the Cox Convention Center to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven AHL Calder Cup Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals series.

The loss puts Oklahoma City on the brink of elimination from the 2015 Calder Cup Playoffs, with the team needing wins in Game Six and Game Seven next week in Utica to advance to the Western Conference Finals. Utica can clinch a series win with a victory in either of the remaining two games.

After surrendering six goals in Game Five, Markstrom allowed the Barons just a Brad Hunt goal with 1:09 left in the game, despite Oklahoma City outshooting Utica for the first time since Game One, 34-32. Barons goalie Richard Bachman made 30 saves.

Utica registered a goal in all three periods and took a 1-0 lead at 12:13 of the first when Bobby Sanguinetti sent a turnaround shot from the right circle that Bachman knocked away with his blocker, but Wacey Hamilton was able to flip behind the sprawling Barons net minder.

The Comets increased their lead to 2-0 at 3:54 of the second period after Peter Andersson skated into the Oklahoma City zone before taking a wide open pass from Alex Friesen and wristing a shot over Bachman’s blocker.

A power play chance and an empty net gave the Barons 6-on-4 advantage in the waning minutes of play, and Hunt converted on a slap shot from the left point to get the Barons on the board at 18:51 of the third.

Alexandre Grenier added an empty net goal at 19:44 of the third to secure the win for Utica.

Game Six is at 6 p.m. CDT Monday, May 18, at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 05.13.2015 / 11:32 PM MT
By Marc Ciampa - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Leon Draisaitl was named the WHL MVP as his Kelowna Rockets defeated the Brandon Wheat Kings 3-0, sweeping their way to the WHL Championship.

The first two periods went scoreless but 1:10 into the third, Draisaitl scored shorthanded to give the Rockets a 1-0 lead. That goal would turn out to be the game winner as 19 seconds later, Rourke Chartier scored shorthanded on the same penalty.

With 5:30 to go, Draisaitl assisted on a goal by Nick Merkley to make it 3-0 and that was how the game would end.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 05.13.2015 / 9:59 PM MT
By George Darkow - Oklahoma City Barons / Inside the Oilers

Jujhar Khaira and Darnell Nurse teamed up for a pair of goals and Brad Hunt added a goal and three assists to lead the Oklahoma City Barons to a 7-4 win over the Utica Comets Wednesday night at the Cox Convention Center, evening the best-of-seven AHL Calder Cup Western Conference Semifinals series at 2-2.

In his first game of the playoffs, Nurse recorded three assists. His first gave the Barons a 1-0 lead at 9:30 of the first period, when he centered a pass to the front of the net, where Khaira chipped the puck past Utica goalie Jacob Markstrom.

Khaira and Nurse combined once again for Oklahoma City’s fourth goal at 17:34 of the second period, when again Nurse skidded the puck toward the net and Khaira redirected it past Markstrom to give the Barons a 4-3 lead.

Hunt assisted on the Barons’ second, third and fifth goals, and scored an empty-netter at 17:15 of the third, firing a slap shot from the left circle of the OKC zone that sailed into the center of the vacant Utica net, making the score 7-4. Nurse tallied his third assist on the play.

Oklahoma City was 4-for-7 on the power play, with Khaira’s and Hunt’s goals the even-strength scores.

For a third consecutive game, the Barons were outshot by Utica, 42-24. Barons goaltender Richard Bachman made 38 saves, while Markstrom stopped a pedestrian 17. Utica played the final 5:30 with an empty net and extra attacker.

After Khaira’s first goal gave the Barons a 1-0 lead, Utica’s Hunter Shinkaruk tied the game at 16:21 of the first period, when he wristed a shot from the left-wing circle that caromed off the post and Bachman’s back before trickling into the net. The play was reviewed and upheld by officials.

The Barons took a 2-1 lead 1:16 into the second period. On the power play stemming from a cross-checking penalty to Utica’s Alex Biega in the final second first period play, Hunt sent a shot from the point that was initially knocked down by Markstrom, but OKC’s Andrew Miller jammed the puck through the goalie’s pads for the Barons’ first power play score of the game.

Goals by Utica’s Sven Baertschi at 6:50 and Alex Friesen at 11:34 of the second period gave the Comets a 3-2 lead.

At 13:08 of the second, Hunt sent a shot on net from the right circle that bounced high off Markstrom’s chest, allowing Matt Ford to bat the puck out of the air and past the Utica net minder, knotting the score at three. The goal extended Ford’s playoff point streak to seven games – the entirety of the Barons playoff schedule thus far.

Following Khaira’s second goal that gave the Barons a 4-3 lead, Oklahoma City’s lead grew to 5-3 when Markstrom chased a puck behind the Utica net and his clearing attempt slid to OKC’s Ryan Hamilton, who pushed the puck toward the vacant net, giving the Barons their first multi-goal lead of the series.

Two minutes, seventeen seconds later, Brandon Davidson scored on a wrist shot from the right circle that found its way through Markstrom’s pads to extend the Barons’ lead to 6-3.

Playing with an extra attacker late in the third period, Utica’s Brendan Gaunce cut Oklahoma City’s lead to 6-4, grabbing a pass from Friesen in the right circle and rifling a shot over Bachman’s glove.

The late empty-netter was the first goal of the playoffs for Hunt, who tied for the lead in goals among AHL defenseman during the regular season with 19.

Game Five is scheduled for 7 p.m., Thursday at the Cox Convention Center.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 05.13.2015 / 9:30 PM MT
By Marc Ciampa - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

The Erie Otters have been pushed to the brink after falling 6-5 to the Oshawa Generals on Wednesday night. Top-ranked CSS prospect Connor McDavid had a goal and three assists for four points in a losing cause.

Oshawa stormed out to a 2-0 lead in the first period but before the period would end, the Otters came back to tie it at 2-2 with McDavid assisting on both goals.

The Generals then scored two more to open the second and take a 4-2 lead. 10 seconds after Oshawa's fourth goal, Jake Marchment scored to make it a one-goal affair. Then McDavid assisted on a goal by Taylor Raddysh to tie it up at 4-4.

Erie took a 5-4 after McDavid ripped a shot from the high slot top corner. Oshawa tied the game at 5-5 with one second left in the middle frame. Neither team scored in the third, sending the match-up to overtime.

In OT, Cole Cassels scored 8:19 in to give Oshawa the win.

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 05.12.2015 / 4:37 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

The American Hockey League has announced approval for their new alignment for the 2015-16 season.

The Western Conference’s Pacific Division will be the home of Bakersfield, the Oilers affiliate. They will compete against fellow Pacific Division teams; the Ontario Reign, San Antonio Rampage, San Diego Gulls, San Jose Barracuda, Stockton Heat and the Texas Stars.

The format for the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs will be finalized at the Board of Governors annual meeting in July.

Bakersfield will become the Oilers primary development team, starting next season.

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POSTED ON Monday, 05.11.2015 / 10:53 PM MT
By George Darkow - Oklahoma City Barons / Inside the Oilers

Mike Zalewski scored the game-winning goal in the third period to lift the Utica Comets to a 3-2 win over the Oklahoma City Barons and 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference Semifinals series of the AHL’s Calder Cup playoffs Monday night at the Cox Convention Center.

One minute, forty-two seconds after Oklahoma City’s Josh Winquist knotted the game at two with a power play goal at 3:08 of the third period, Utica’s Alex Biega sent a shot from the right point that deflected off Zalewski’s stick and past Barons goalie Richard Bachman for the game’s deciding score.

For a second straight game, the Barons were outshot by Utica, registering just 22 shots on net minder Jacob Markstrom to the Comets’ 28.

Unlike the series’ first two games in which the initial scoring team lost, Utica tallied the first goal of Monday’s game early in the first period. After a flurry of shots by the Barons, Utica scored on its first shot of the game when Alexandre Grenier sent a centering pass to Sven Baertschi, who shuffled the puck to Alex Friesen for a backhanded score at 1:20 of the first.

At 12:25 of the first, Grenier gave the Comets a 2-0 lead, grabbing a pass in the slot from Bobby Sanguinetti and spinning around before flipping the puck past a sprawling Bachman.

Oklahoma City got on the board at 15:10 of the first with a shorthanded goal by Andrew Miller, scoring moments after Zalewski left the penalty box during four-on-four play.

After Winquist’s goal tied the game at two, an errant clearing attempt by Oklahoma City’s Martin Marincin led to an icing call, setting up a faceoff in the Barons zone. On the ensuing play, Zalewski netted the game-winner for Utica.

With an assist on Winquist’s goal, Matt Ford registered his eighth point of the postseason, collecting at least one in all six of Oklahoma City’s playoff games.

The teams meet again for Game Four on Wednesday, May 13, in a 7 p.m. start at the Cox Convention Center.

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INSIDE THE OILERS BLOG