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POSTED ON Tuesday, 05.11.2013 / 1:38 PM
By Marc Ciampa - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Playing in Florida is a homecoming for Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins on several fronts.

“I swung through here twice as a player and spent the first eight years of my life up near Tampa. Lots of connections to the state and this organization,” Eakins stated.

Eakins was born in Dade City, Florida which is about 35 miles north of Tampa. He also played for the Panthers from 1993-95 and again in 1997-98 for a total of 41 games.

“I think the one thing I remember the most here is, we didn’t have great teams but boy the teams stuck together and we checked really well. It was something we took great pride in.”

Roger Neilson was the head coach during his first stint with the Panthers. Eakins and Neilson go way back as the Oilers coach was a disciple of Neilson’s hockey school in Peterborough, Ontario at age 12.

“(Playing for) my second father, Roger Nielson, was a special thing as well.”

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 05.11.2013 / 11:39 AM
By Marc Ciampa - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers
The Oilers are on the ice in Florida with head coach Dallas Eakins also on the ice for the second straight morning skate.

The lines are:

Hemsky-RNH-Eberle
Smyth-Gagner-Yakupov
Jones-Gordon-Arcobello
Gazdic-Acton-Eager

Smid-Larsen
Ference-Petry
N.Schultz-Fedun
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POSTED ON Tuesday, 05.11.2013 / 11:24 AM
By Marc Ciampa - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Ryan Hamilton has been assigned to the AHL's Oklahoma City Barons, the Oilers announced today.

Hamilton played two games for the Oilers during his call-up and had no points. In between the two games, he missed 11 games with a knee injury.

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POSTED ON Monday, 04.11.2013 / 6:43 PM
By Marc Ciampa - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers
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POSTED ON Monday, 04.11.2013 / 3:57 PM
By Marc Ciampa - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

The Oilers have been searching for answers to their slow start to the season and Dallas Eakins talked about the process involved in trying to right that ship, so to speak.

“Where we’re at with the team, it’s such a challenge to shake it. We’ve done a lot of talking. We had another long meeting this morning sorting out some things. The thing that I like, though, is we had a spirited practice. That was a positive sign. There was a lot of talk on the ice, there was lots of compete on the ice. The practice had a good pace.”

The head coach really liked what he saw from the team, particularly after a long travel day on Sunday.

“That’s the first encouraging thing for our team because where we’re at right now, it’s a depressing state. And usually that falls into your practice where now you start seeing guys fall away. But we didn’t see that today. We saw the exact opposite. I thought guys were digging their heels in during the practice. Now we’ve got to take that into the game.”

He added that it is very important to take the energy from today’s good practice and try and carry it over to tomorrow night’s game against a Panthers squad that has dropped four in a row.

“We can’t just leave it here today. We’ve got to have it tomorrow at 7:30 (eastern time).”

The Oilers have had some success in the buildings they’re visiting on this four-game road trip. They’re 5-5-2 in Florida all-time with four straight wins in South Florida. In Tampa, the Oilers are 7-4-1 all-time. In Philadelphia, Edmonton has won four of the last five and in their last six visits to the United Center in Chicago, they are 4-1-1.

“The first thing we need is a positive step. We need a good first five shifts to get us going and get away from the mistakes we’re making. I think we’re a group right now where our guys care so much that they’re trying to take on the world themselves and we end up giving the puck back to the other team. I believe today was encouraging but this is a trip that, boy, we’d like to make some hay on.”

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POSTED ON Monday, 04.11.2013 / 3:56 PM
By Marc Ciampa - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Ryan Smyth stated that he's ready to play tomorrow against the Florida Panthers if called upon.

"There's a great deal of possibility," Smyth said about playing tomorrow. "We've got a doc on the road and I'm sure he'll assess me and give the okay but I felt really good and confident the last few practices. No nagging, no lingering so that's a positive step."

Smyth has been out since October 22 with a groin injury.

"I've never experienced a pulled groin before. It's a first in my career. I've had soreness but no pulled groins. It lingers. It lingered there for awhile. It was frustrating because you want to be out there and help out as best you can."

Smyth skated on a line with Sam Gagner and Nail Yakupov today. Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins said he will be ready to go.

"Smytty will play. We need Smytty in the lineup right now. When things are not going great for your team, you really look to experience and leadership and the more guys like that we can have in our room the better so he will definitely calm the storm and hopefully be able to pick up some of our guys and give them some confidence."

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POSTED ON Monday, 04.11.2013 / 3:43 PM
By Marc Ciampa - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Following practice on Monday, Taylor Hall gave an update on the status of his injured knee, which has kept him out of action since October 22.

"We haven't really talked about a certain date but we have those two games on the weekend (in Philadelphia and Chicago) and I'd like to be playing in those. I'm not sure if I will," Hall began. "Nothing's really for sure but I think the next step is getting contact in to make sure I can take a hit and give one and then get planning on when I want to play."

Hall wore a yellow non-contact jersey at practice (along with Jesse Joensuu). At the time of his injury, a timeline thrown out there was one month so it appears he's ahead of schedule.

"Right from the start, once the swelling got out of there after the first day, there were signs that it's come along really well. Now I can run and do all those things off the ice. Now it's just about getting in those awkward positions. You really do stress your knees on the ice and make sure I can handle that."

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POSTED ON Monday, 04.11.2013 / 3:40 PM
By Marc Ciampa - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins gave an update on the status of his injured players following practice in Florida on Monday.

“Anybody that wasn’t on the ice is not good to go,” said Eakins. That included David Perron (neck), who was not with the team to start this road trip plus players who did make the trip such as defencemen Justin Schultz, Anton Belov and goaltender Richard Bachman.

On Belov, Eakins said, “He’s with us, which is a good sign, but he won’t be ready to play tomorrow. Neither will Justin Schultz.”

With both blueliners out, the Oilers will be calling up a defenceman from Oklahoma City. In anticipation of the move, the Barons recalled defencemen Martin Gernat and David Musil from ECHL Bakersfield earlier today.

“We let the managers know that we needed (a defenceman). I was hoping that Schultzie or Belov would be better than they were. They’re not, so they will send us a D and I have absolutely no idea who that will be right now.”

In addition to Ryan Smyth, who will play tomorrow, two injured players who did skate were Taylor Hall and Jesse Joensuu.

“I said to Keith Acton, boy I wish he could play right now because we need him. You can argue, if he’s not our best player he’s certainly one of them. We’re dying for those injured guys to get back. Hallsy looks great in practice. He brings everything you need right now,” said the Oilers bench boss.

“The biggest thing that he brings for me is he’s always in the fight. He’s always trying. He wants to be the best player on the ice. We will wait patiently for him.”

Jesse Joensuu will be eligible to come off Long Term Injured Reserve (LTIR) on Saturday against the Flyers. Eakins hopes that he will be ready to go.

“The same with Jesse (Joensuu). Today in practice, you see the things that your group’s missing and two of them were wearing (non-contact) gold sweaters today.”

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POSTED ON Monday, 04.11.2013 / 1:02 PM
By Marc Ciampa - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers
The Oilers are on the ice for practice at the Florida Panthers practice facility in Coral Springs, FL.

Line combinations based on jersey colour:

Smyth-Gagner-Yakupov (white)
Eberle-RNH-Hemsky (light blue)
Jones-Gordon-Arcobello (dark blue)
Gazdic-Acton-Eager (black)
Joensuu, Hall (yellow)

Wearing orange are defencemen Petry, Ference, Larsen, Smid and Nick Schultz plus winger Ryan Hamilton taking a turn on D.

Goaltenders: Dubnyk, LaBarbera

Justin Schultz and Anton Belov are not skating. David Perron is not on the trip.

Check back for regular updates, audio, video and more.
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POSTED ON Saturday, 02.11.2013 / 1:07 PM
By Marc Ciampa - edmontonoilers.com / Inside the Oilers

Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins announced on Saturday after the morning skate that Richard Bachman will start his third straight game tonight, with Jason LaBarbera backing up.

Ryan Hamilton also makes his return to the lineup after missing 13 games due to injury. Hamilton will skate on a line with Mark Arcobello and Boyd Gordon.

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