It's a light day at practice for the Oilers at Russ Barnes Arena, as the team focuses on the power play.
For the early session, only six skaters are on the ice not including goaltender Devan Dubnyk.
The power play unit consists of Anton Belov and Nail Yakupov on the backend with Ryan Smyth, Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky up front.
Philip Larsen is skating after missing the last road trip with an injury.
UPDATE: The Oilers other power play unit is now on the ice as well.
Justin Schultz, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and David Perron have joined their teammates.
Light practice today for the #Oilers, looks like power play work, Philip Larsen is skating, Dubnyk is the only goalie & only 6 skaters— Chris Wescott (@TheChrisWescott) December 2, 2013
After 28 saves on 29 shots, Ilya Bryzgalov took a different kind of shot that would end his night prematurely. A run-in with Ryan Garbutt knocked the Oilers goaltender to the ice, forcing him to leave the game and not return.
Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins provided an injury update on Bryzgalov after the game.
"He's got an upper body injury," said Eakins. "We're going to have to reassess in the morning. I've been upfront with you guys, I'm not being upfront now. I've got to keep this one under wraps until we check him a little further."
Devan Dubnyk came in to finish the game and played strong, making 15 saves on 16 shots and earning the shootout win.
The Oilers coach was very pleased with both of his goalies tonight.
"The could have easily been first and second stars or second and third," said Eakins. "Which would have been maybe a first in the NHL."
The Oilers have won four of their last five games and the recent success is due to a boost in confidence.
"We have a lot more confidence than in the past," said forward Taylor Hall. "I feel like we've had a lot of complete games that, from start to finish, we're playing how we want to play. It's exciting for our group and it's a start to a new chapter in our year."
Ryan Jones mirrored Hall's thoughts.
"I think we're playing with some confidence," said Jones. "You can see that at the start of the year, there were some guys that were just struggling with where they were with their game. Anytime you can get some wins and a couple of points, it obviously helps you play a little more confident and a little loose and that's always when you play your best hockey, for sure."
The Oilers announced today that Ilya Bryzgalov would start tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets, his second straight. Last night, Bryzgalov stopped all 33 shots in a 3-0 shutout over the Nashville Predators. Even still, the decision was not made lightly.
"Well, it's one of those you flip back-and-forth," said Eakins of his decision on a starting goalie. "Okay, it's back-to-back games, he's just been here a couple of weeks back playing and do you want him playing back-to-back games? Is he going to be tired? I don't think so. He had the shutout last night, so I think it's an easy decision. One that I wanted to sleep on as well because it's the, if you don't play him, then it's 'why didn't you play him? He had a shutout.' Then if you do play him, he could be tired. I think he's fine. He's a veteran guy. He had a great game last night and we'll continue to roll."
Bryzgalov will face his former teammate in net tonight as Sergei Bobrovsky gets the nod for Columbus. The two played together on the 2011-2012 Philadelphia Flyers team.
The Oilers have recalled defenceman Denis Grebeshkov from Oklahoma City of the AHL.
Grebeshkov, 30, has played 11 games for the Barons so far this season. He has two goals and three assists for five points and an even plus/minus rating with four penalty minutes.
He has also suited up for three games with the Oilers, with a pair of penalty minutes and a +1 rating.
After missing practice on Tuesday with a leg injury, Nail Yakupov was back on the ice Wednesday in Leduc prior to the team's departure for Nashville.
“I’m good now. Skating with the team and ready to go against Nashville,” he said to the media after practice.
Yakupov couldn't pinpoint the exact moment he injured his leg.
“It just happened some day. I don’t know what happened, but nothing serious,” he stated. “I’m ready to go and everything’s fine.”
The players were having some fun with Yakupov, saying that he took a Russian holiday yesterday but it was all in good fun. The Russian winger said he will be fresh for the Predators game with the extra day rest.
“Guys chirping me, saying atta boy Russian take it off yesterday but it will be good, I’ll be fresh and ready to get two points (in Nashville).”
Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins said that having only missed one game, he has no reservations with putting Yakupov back in the lineup Thursday.
“He couldn’t practice yesterday. We had to make sure his leg was all right, number one. Yak’s not a lazy kid. he’s a hard working guy. Him missing a day with an injury is no concern to us. If he misses a couple then you start questioning if you put him in or not."
So far, coach Eakins says that the decision to add Ilya Brzygalov to the Oilers crease has been a good one.
“I think he’s comfortable with his situation here. He knows how the game goes. This isn’t a young player coming who’s not quite sure how it works. He’s a veteran guy. He understands that whoever’s hot and whoever’s winning is going to be in the net. If it’s the other guy, he’s good with it. All that Bryz wants is our team to win. He’ll get his chance to run with it now and that’s what you need in the room. It’s all about the team success, not the individual’s ice time or the individual being on the power play or the individual being put with certain players, it should be about the team winning and that’s a real breath of fresh air for us.”
The bench boss added that Bryzgalov has fit in really well in the dressing room so far with the team as a whole in addition to being in a mentorship role with the club's other two Russians, Anton Belov and Nail Yakupov.
“The one thing I did ask of him was to try to help along and mentor Belov and Yakupov. I thought that was important. He’s such a friendly soul and he’s an intelligent guy. The one thing I have noticed is that he’s really fit in quickly with our group. I see him interacting and talking a lot and he’s keeping it light out there, even with his hard work in practice."
Coach Eakins remarked that today Bryzgalov was having some fun with the drills in Leduc.
"There’s a couple of things that happened in practice here today where (he made) a couple of big point-blank saves and in a cheering way, he’s yelling to me ‘there’s no cheating in this net, there’s no cheating in this crease.’ It was a message but he was saying it in a funny way so it kept it light."
Arcobello has been a healthy scratch for the past five games, as has Jones. The team has played well during this stretch so they have both been mainly victims of circumstance with the coach not wanting to tinker much with a winning lineup.
“I’m excited to get back in and hopefully I pick up where I left off,” said Arcobello.
Prior to the stretch of games from the press box, Arcobello had put up 12 points in 20 games and remains tied for sixth in rookie scoring in the NHL — and tied for first in rookie assists.
“It’s been kind of weird. They told me to get a place to stay and I haven’t played since then. I’m still ready. Nothing’s changed. I’m going to keep trying to play the same game.”
Nail Yakupov was asked about his leg injury, having missed practice on Tuesday. Yakupov said that he felt he was ready to play. Coach Eakins also said, Yakupov missing only one practice day he had no reservations about putting him back in the lineup.
Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins was asked if Jones or Arcobello would be likely to return to the lineup on Thursday in Nashville.
"I think both are likely (to play)," Eakins stated.