INSIDE THE OILERS
POSTED ON Friday, 03.20.2015 / 1:54 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Jordan Eberle leads the Oilers in scoring this season with 56 points (19-37-56). The second half of the season has been kind to Eberle, who has 13-23-36 in his last 35 games. He is currently on a six-game point streak. He Has 4-8-12 in that span.

Eberle’s linemate, Benoit Pouliot, is on a four-game point streak of his own (3-2-5). He talked about Eberle’s production after practice today at Rexall.

“He’s just been bearing on the chances he’s getting,” Pouliot said. “He’s been making the passes he’s needed to make and it shows that he’s doing the job and he’s doing what he’s supposed to do and it’s fun to watch, fun to play with. I get the chance to play with him everyday and it’s great. I can’t complain about anything about his game. He’s probably one of, if not the, best players on our team. He’s just doing the simple things, doing his game. He’s a pretty shifty guy out there and when he gets the chance to be loose he’ll find you or shoot the puck.”

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POSTED ON Friday, 03.20.2015 / 1:53 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

If Taylor Hall is able to return to the lineup, the Oilers are still undecided on where he will play. He skated today on the third line with Anton Lander as his centre.

Wherever he plays, Hall adds a lot to the Oilers lineup.

“He’s definitely a big part of our team,” Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said. “He’s a driving force out there for sure. He makes defencemen think twice about a lot of things. When he’s driving the puck wide he’s creating a lot of space for everybody else on the ice. If we get him back it’s going to be great for us and we look forward to getting him back into the lineup as soon as possible.”

Hall has missed 23 of the last 24 games with an ankle injury, and yet he still holds the third spot in Oilers scoring with 11 goals and 19 assists for 30 points.

“It’s huge for us. You bring a guy like Taylor Hall in the lineup and it’s always a positive,” Benoit Pouliot said of Hall closing in on a return. “He was pretty fast out there today. You could see him and he didn’t really seem to be hurting too much so he’s been out quite a while now. It’s obviously tough to come back, in the first few games, to get back into it. He looks pretty good so hopefully he gets back in there and helps us out.”

The Oilers will meet tomorrow morning to decide if Hall is ready to return to game action, as the Oilers host the Flyers.

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POSTED ON Friday, 03.20.2015 / 1:50 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Taylor Hall skated today in light blue colours today at practice, as opposed to his recent yellow non-contact jersey. Logic dictates that he is getting closer to his return to game action, coming off his ankle injury.

“In the case of Taylor, we’re going to see how he is tomorrow morning and we’ll make a decision collectively as a staff and with Taylor to see what we’re going to do moving forward,” Oilers Interim Coach Todd Nelson said.

He took line rushes with Anton Lander and Ryan Hamilton, with Andrew Miller rotating on the wing. The Oilers are being cautious and not rushing Hall back until he is ready.

“He has been out for a while,” Nelson said. “It’s one thing to skate in practice and it’s another thing to play a game where you are working the corners and that. Right now, we haven’t made a concrete decision of where he will play. He was playing with Anton today. That’s something we’ll discuss as a group. First and foremost, we have to make sure he’s 100% healthy.”

Hall has missed 23 of the last 24 games and says whenever he comes back, it may take a few shifts to get up to speed.

“It’s really tough to get 100% without playing games,” Hall said. “You can bag yourself as much as you want in practice. It just seems like you get in the game and you just can’t relax as easy and you don’t have those breaks like you do in practice. No matter if I practice for two weeks more, I think if I came back in a game I’d still be tired the first couple shifts.”

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POSTED ON Thursday, 03.19.2015 / 3:43 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Senior University of Denver defenceman Joey LaLeggia was named a Top Ten Finalist for the 2015 Hobey Baker Award today. The award is presented annually to the top men’s college hockey player in the United States.

LaLeggia, 22, was drafted in the fifth round (123rd overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft.

In 34 games this season, LaLeggia has 13 goals and 25 assists for 38 points. He leads all NCHC defencemen in goals, assists, points, game-winning goals (3), power play goals (5) and shots on goal (129). He ranks third overall in the NCAA in scoring for a defenceman.

LaLeggia has been named the NCHC Defenceman of the Week five times this season, and was named the NCHC Player of the Month for both January and February.

LaLeggia is from Burnaby, B.C. and played for the Penticton Vees in the BCHL for three years before leaving for school at the University of Denver.

The Hobey Baker Hat Trick (top three) will be announced April 2, and the winner will be named on April 10, during the NCAA Frozen Four.

LaLeggia and the Pioneers play the University of Miami at Ohio in the Semifinal of the NCHC Tournament this Friday.

He has yet to sign his entry level contract.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 03.18.2015 / 11:42 AM MT
By Marc Ciampa - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

The NHL has suspended Leafs forward Nazem Kadri four games for his hit to the head of Oilers winger Matt Fraser.

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 03.17.2015 / 1:21 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

VIDEO: PRACTICE: Tuesday at Rexall Place | RAW: Todd Nelson | RAW: Hamilton | RAW: Yakupov
AUDIO: Todd Nelson | Nail Yakupov | Ryan Hamilton

The Oilers have hit the ice for practice at Rexall Place.

Taylor Hall and Tyler Pitlick are both on the ice in non-contact yellow.

The rest of the lineup stays the same, except for the absence of Luke Gazdic (illness) and Matt Fraser, who suffered a head injury last night against Toronto.

Line combinations based on jersey colour:

Pouliot-RNH-Eberle
Purcell-Roy-Yakupov
Hamilton-Lander
Hendricks-Gordon-Klinkhammer

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 03.17.2015 / 1:17 PM MT
By Chris Wescott - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Last night, Oilers forward Matt Fraser was helped off the ice after a hit to the head by Leafs Nazem Kadri.

“You obviously don’t want to see that,” said Ryan Hamilton, Fraser’s linemate. “You always want to stick up (for) and protect your teammates. I didn’t really get a good view of it. I just saw kind of the aftermath so I just kind of got in there in the scrum. It was kind of a little hectic there. We didn’t know exactly what happened right away, then we saw the replay. Obviously, he took a pretty good one on the chin. I don’t know if it was incidental or not but he still made good contact on the chin. Obviously, it’s not fun watching one of your teammates get hit like that.”

There was no update after the game, but Oilers Interim Coach Todd Nelson provided one today after practice.

“He was concussed,” Nelson said. “We are going to follow protocol and we’ll reevaluate him again tomorrow, but I can say that he’s doing well.”

Nelson had a chance to watch the play and says it’s an unfortunate part of hockey.

“It was a play where (Fraser) was reaching, he was down a bit and we’ve seen those hits before where a player comes in and finishes his check,” Nelson said. “Sometimes, when the opposing player is bending over and trying to reach for the puck, those things happen. It’s the game of hockey. It happens.”

The Oilers may look to recall a player from Oklahoma City. The Barons play tonight at home against Milwaukee.

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POSTED ON Sunday, 03.15.2015 / 2:16 PM MT
By Marc Ciampa - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

VIDEO: PRACTICE: Sunday at Rexall Place | RAW: Todd Nelson | RAW: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
AUDIO: Todd Nelson | Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Prior to practice on Sunday, Taylor Hall skated on his own and then helped warm up the goaltenders. Coach Nelson said that he will skate with the team for the first time on Monday at morning skate prior to the game against the Leafs.

“He’s going to skate with us tomorrow. We’ll see how he feels,” said Nelson.

The coach was also asked if, when Hall returns, he'll assume his usual spot on the right side half boards on the power play, considering how well the team has played with the man advantage since Hall's been injured (28.1%, #1 in the NHL). Nelson said he didn't want to jump to any conclusions for a decision that will be made down the road.

“A lot of things can happen over the next few games with personnel, guys get injured and what-not. I like where Nuge is right now and we’ll try to make it fit, if everybody is healthy, with Taylor on one of the two units.”

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POSTED ON Sunday, 03.15.2015 / 2:09 PM MT
By Marc Ciampa - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Since Todd Nelson took over behind the Oilers bench as interim head coach, the team's power play has been outstanding. The team had a 12.0% overall power play success rating (and 4.7% on the road) with only 13 total goals scored (2 on the road).

“I think at the start of the year we were getting a lot of chances and we just couldn’t score. You start holding on to the puck too long and that really hurt us. Now lately, we go out there with a lot of confidence, feeling like we’re going to score. Putting a lot of pucks on the net, working hard and winning battles,” said Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on the team's much-improved play with the man advantage.

Since Nelson, the team's power play has been running along at a 25.0% clip with 23 goals on 92 opportunities. The best power play in the entire NHL -- the Detroit Red Wings -- are at 25.3%. On the road, that power play has been 29.5%.

“I think the personnel, the units that we have, they’re working well together," said Nelson. "Our challenge from our staff is to outwork their penalty kill. I think Craig Ramsay’s done a great job of preparing them but the message is to keep it simple, get pucks going to the net, get traffic and try to outwork their penalty kill.”

The power play has gotten even better since the all-star break. In that six-week stretch, the Oilers have the best power play in the entire NHL by a significant margin at 28.1%. On the road, it's even better at 34.2%.

It's all the more amazing when it's considered that they have accomplished this all without Taylor Hall, the team's usual leading power-play point-getter who was injured coming out of the break.

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POSTED ON Sunday, 03.15.2015 / 10:44 AM MT
By Marc Ciampa - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

VIDEO: PRACTICE: Sunday at Rexall Place | RAW: Todd Nelson | RAW: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
AUDIO: Todd Nelson | Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
The Oilers are on the ice for practice at Rexall Place after returning late Friday night from their five-game road trip through the Northeastern U.S.

Tyler Pitlick is on the ice wearing a non-contact yellow jersey. The forward lines are:

Pouliot - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Purcell - Roy - Yakupov
Hendricks - Lander - Fraser
Gazdic/Hamilton - Gordon - Klinkhammer

There are seven defencemen on the ice: Nikitin, Ference, Klefbom, Marincin, Schultz, Aulie and Fayne.
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INSIDE THE OILERS BLOG