Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse has been suspended three games for his incident late in the game on Tuesday against San Jose versus Sharks defenceman Roman Polak.
Edmonton’s Darnell Nurse suspended 3 games under Rule 46.2 Aggressor of an altercation with San Jose’s Roman Polak. https://t.co/bdqX4tDHLr— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) March 10, 2016
BLOGS & FEATURES
- BLOG: Wednesday Updates
- BLOG: Nurse has hearing with NHL
- BLOG: Oesterle recalled
- BLOG: Pairing size with skill
- BLOG: Oilers hope to spark Kassian
- PRACTICE | Wednesday in Leduc
- PRACTICE RAW | Taylor Hall
- PRACTICE RAW | Zack Kassian
- PRACTICE RAW | Matt Hendricks
- PRACTICE RAW | Todd McLellan
The Oilers rolled out some new forward lines at practice in Leduc. The common theme, which is a continuation of recent games, is size with skill. Zack Kassian was grouped with Connor McDavid and Taylor Hall. Leon Draisaitl and Jordan Eberle had Patrick Maroon on the wing.
“It’s important,” Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan said of blending the big with the skilled. “Those bigger bodies can hold onto to pucks and create time and space for some of the skilled players down low, but that needs to get done.”
McLellan said Maroon has done a good job of complementing skill, but the team needs to jumpstart Kassian’s game.
“I need to get back playing straight lines,” said Kassian. “I think when you play with two guys like that you need to get in on the forecheck, play physical, open up space, but at the same time play in straight lines and good things are going to happen out of that.”
On the other side of things, Hall sees his skill paired with Kassian’s size. That changes the dynamic for him too, while providing versatility to how the line can attack.
“You have to read the game,” said Hall. “You have to play hockey. You try to take advantage of everyone’s skill set. With Connor, you want to use his speed. If you can get the puck to him in open ice then that’s perfect. We can carry it in, but if you can’t then you want to lay it in and let Zack go to work, let his big body protect pucks, get in on the forecheck and get pucks back for us. That’s what happens when you play with different guys, you learn how to just play to their skill sets.”
Oilers forward Zack Kassian has been held scoreless in five games. Following a 3-0 loss to San Jose, Kassian found himself on a line alongside two of the Oilers most skilled players at practice in Leduc.
“Kassian has to get going again,” said McLellan. “I don’t think he’s been the player he was five or six games ago and we’re giving him a real good opportunity now to capture a spot with some really good players. I’d like to see him take advantage of it. In his case, he’s got to get the forecheck going, he’s got to be the first in on pucks, he’s got to keep plays alive, he’s got to go to the blue paint. There’s a lot of things he needs to do when the play is going on to be effective and we’ve talked to him about that and he’ll be better.”
Kassian recognizes his slump and is eager to turn it around beginning Thursday in Minnesota.
“There’s no excuse. I have to be better,” he said. “I think there were a couple games on the road trip where we got wins but I didn’t play my best and when the team is winning it’s OK, it slides. Then when you lose games like yesterday and you didn’t have another good effort it’s tough. You go home and you really start thinking you want to help this team and you didn’t help the team. It’s something that is going to happen over the long duration of the season but the dips and valleys have to be short. I have to get back on the horse and start playing the right way. I’m looking to do so in Minnesota. We’re lucky as a team, we play a lot of hockey in the next month.”
The Edmonton Oilers have recalled defenceman Jordan Oesterle from the American Hockey League’s Bakersfield Condors.
Oesterle, 23, has appeared in four games with the Oilers this season, recording one assist. In 10 career National Hockey League games he has posted two points (2A).
The Dearborn Heights, Michigan native has recorded 23 points (3G, 20A) and eight penalty minutes in 42 games with Bakersfield this season.
Sekera, Pardy and Hendricks are absent from practice today— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) March 9, 2016
The forward lines are as follows:
Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse will have a hearing tomorrow with NHL Player Safety as a result of an altercation with San Jose’s Roman Polak in last night’s game at Rexall Place.
Edmonton's Darnell Nurse will have a hearing tomorrow under Rule 46.2 (Aggressor) for an altercation with San Jose's Roman Polak.— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) March 9, 2016
Nurse and Polak were each given fighting majors at 18:20 of the third period, with Nurse receiving the extra two minutes for roughing.
The Edmonton Oilers have recalled defenceman Griffin Reinhart from the American Hockey League’s Bakersfield Condors.
Reinhart, 22, has appeared in 15 games with the Oilers this season, posting one assist and 16 penalty minutes.
The North Vancouver, British Columbia native has appeared in 27 games with Bakersfield this season, registering nine points (2G, 7A), 14 penalty minutes and a plus three rating.
BLOGS & FEATURES
- BLOG: Bigger bodies, bigger presence
- BLOG: Injuries just keep coming
- BLOG: Talbot named NHL First Star of the Week
Size may not matter off the ice, but in the case of Oilers forward Patrick Maroon, it’s made a world of a difference for the team on it.
In just three games with Edmonton, the big forward has recorded two goals and added two assists for four points.
“I just try to come in here and make an impression right away and I didn’t expect to come out and score goals and be getting points right away but it’s going good right now so I’m not complaining,” he said.
“I’ve just got to continue what I’ve been doing to be getting those things and my linemates obviously have a big part in that. I’m playing with two really good linemates so I give them credit too for my good start. I can clean up some areas, I can be better in certain areas too.”
The Oilers acquired Maroon from the Anaheim Ducks, just before the end of the NHL Trade Deadline, announcing they had traded prospect Martin Gernat and a 2016 fourth-round pick to obtain the 6-foot-3 forward.
Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan said the team was already taking steps toward making changes on the ice, with the recent additions amplifying the team’s suddenly assertive transformation.
“I think prior to the deadline we made a commitment, maybe through osmosis there, to play harder and to compete harder. We weren’t happy finishing that homestand,” he said.
“We talked about becoming a scrappier team and leaving it on the ice and not being overly concerned about the result. I think that started in Anaheim, that started in LA — two real tough places to play — and then the trade deadline augmented it with adding some size and some strength and with that comes confidence.”
The addition of Maroon, as well as forward Adam Cracknell and defenceman Adam Pardy who were claimed off waivers on Trade Deadline Day, has made quite the impact on the Oilers lines, which McLellan said he isn’t surprised about.
“I saw Patrick play against us in San Jose numerous times and most of those nights he played with [Corey Perry] and [Ryan Getzlaf] and was effective like he is right now with [Taylor Hall] and [Leon Draisaitl],” said McLellan.
Maroon’s hulking size has proved effective against the opposition and both in and around the blue paint. His, Cracknell and Pardy’s addition to the lineup has seen the Oilers produce a grittier and more aggressive style of play overall.
“We have 15 games left, we’re going to have some ups and downs,” said McLellan. “If we can keep this attitude that we have right now, and that relentlessness and tenacity in our game we have a chance to evolve over the last month of the season and carry that into the summer so we have a little momentum going into training camp next year.”
After all, as Mark Twain once mused, it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.