Several weeks ago, Coach Eakins remarked that he had every start mapped out between that point and the Olympic break but did admit that he strayed from the plan by going with Dubnyk in Chicago on Sunday. Eakins said that going back to Bryzgalov puts them back on schedule.
“Bryz will play tomorrow. We’ll keep that schedule in place but continue to monitor it. There’s good and bad in having a schedule. It’s good because we have the plan and the guys know they’re playing. The thing I don’t like about the schedule is sometimes it’s better to just have the straight-on competition.
In the interview, Eakins seemed to emphasize that he will certainly lean towards going with the hot hand at this point moving forward.
"If you play well and you’re winning, you’re going. I’m thinking that’s the best way to go back to. If they play well and you can win then we’ll keep you running. We’ll head back to Bryz tomorrow and see where it goes from there."
“We think both guys will play tomorrow. Just a maintenance day on a couple of bangs that they got. Gagner blocked that shot late and so his foot was pretty sore. Taylor should be fine for tomorrow,” Eakins remarked.
The head coach was asked if he was going to make any changes to the top line, which has been Hall on left, Nugent-Hopkins down the middle and Gagner at right for the past two games. He said he would not.
“I’m going to go right back to that same line. I thought they were developing a little bit of chemistry.”
Eakins did some line shuffling Sunday in Chicago but that was more because Gagner was playing so well and less because he thought the top line wasn't clicking.
“I thought Sam was making some plays and I thought he looked more comfortable. I actually took him off that line during the game a little bit last night because I was trying to jump start some other guys. I thought Sam was playing fairly well.”
The lines are the same as were used in Sunday night's game in Chicago:
Jesse Joensuu is skating with the team for the first time since early last week. We will speak with him after practice to find out his status. We will also find out the status of Hall and Gagner, who are not on the ice.
Lines at practice today: 64-26-14. 57-27-83. 20-94-28. 93-6. Not skating: Hall and Gagner.— Tom Gazzola (@TomGazzola) January 13, 2014
Chicago has the last line change tonight, which means that it’s likely that star centre Jonathan Toews will be matched up against Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. If that’s the case, Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins has no problem with that.
“If that’s the match-up that (Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville) is going to pursue then I think Nuge takes it on as a great challenge. He should feel really good about his last game and have lots of confidence that he played so well against the best player in the game. Hopefully that bodes well for him if that is the match-up that they’re looking for.”
Going head-to-head against Sidney Crosby, Nugent-Hopkins had two goals and an assist in 21:49 of ice time.
David Perron was asked before tonight’s game about the fact that the Oilers seem to match up better against the more skilled teams like Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh and Chicago. Perron said that while that may be the case, the team still needs to try and compete with the heavier teams like St. Louis.
“One thing that’s for sure is we’re going to have to get through the better teams if we want to make it in the playoffs. We won’t get in just beating the teams that are a little less physical. I think this team’s got a good mix of both and it’s going to be a good challenge for us to really use our speed and play through that,” Perron began.
“I was on the other side in St. Louis. You can’t really worry too much. These guys over there in St. Louis, they get hurt too and they make mistakes. I feel sometimes when you talk about teams before games you say ‘oh, they’re big’ and you think they aren’t going to (make any mistakes) but it’s false. I’ve been in that room and there’s a lot that we talked about in between periods that we could do better and the same thing here.”
Following practice on Thursday, Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins spoke to the media. View an archive of the live press conference which was streamed on edmontonoilers.com by clicking on the video below.
The Oilers are on the ice for another early-morning practice at Rexall Place. Lines, according to jersey colour, are:Hall-RNH-Gagner
There are seven defencemen out there as Corey Potter has returned to the ice with the team:
Jesse Joensuu and Philip Larsen are not skating.
The Oilers announced that they have assigned defenceman Brad Hunt to the Oklahoma City Barons.
From the team's official press release:
OILERS ASSIGN HUNT
General Manager Craig MacTavish announced today the Edmonton Oilers have assigned defenceman Brad Hunt to the American Hockey League’s Oklahoma City Barons.
Hunt appeared in three games for the Oilers after being recalled from Oklahoma City.
The Maple Ridge, British Columbia native has recorded 15 points (3G, 12A) and 14 penalty minutes in 27 games with the Barons this season.