POSTED ON Thursday, 02.4.2016 / 9:32 AM MT
By Marc Ciampa - / Inside the Oilers

The Oilers are on the ice for an optional morning skate at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa.

Forwards on the ice are: Hall, Draisiatl, McDavid, Eberle, Yakupov, Pakarinen and Lander

Not on the ice: Pouliot, Hendricks, Kassian, Letestu, Korpikoski

Defencemen on the ice: Fayne, Gryba, Clendening, Davidson, Schultz, Reinhart and Nurse

Defencemen not on the ice: Sekera

Cam Talbot will start tonight in goal.

POSTED ON Monday, 02.1.2016 / 8:35 PM MT
By Marc Ciampa - / Inside the Oilers

The Oilers came back to the ice on Monday after an extended all-star break which saw them off the ice for a full seven days -- longer than any other NHL team.

Coming back, Connor McDavid was cleared for play and in a physical practice that saw two separate on-ice sessions he skated with Jordan Eberle and Benoit Pouliot.

“I don’t even think Ebs and I have played a shift together before," said McDavid." This will be a little bit different for us. There’ll be an adjustment period. I’m definitely excited to play with a player like Jordan.”

Eberle was injured in the pre-season and did not return until after McDavid went down in early November with his collarbone injury.

“Everyone knows what he’s like around the net. He’s got quick, great hands and a deceiving shot. You know if you get the puck in a good spot he’s going to finish it.”

Eberle was also excited to play with McDavid.

“I think with Nuge going down, we knew we were getting Connor back and I thought there was a chance me and (Pouliot) would get a chance with him,” Eberle began. “It’s been funny the way the year’s gone, I came back the day he got injured. I haven’t even been on the ice with him, even in exhibition. It’s good to get out there and practice. We had an intense skate today, got our wind back a little bit and hopefully we find some chemistry tomorrow.”

POSTED ON Sunday, 01.31.2016 / 7:23 PM MT
By Marc Ciampa - / Inside the Oilers

Midway through the final period of the final game, the NHL announced three options to fans to vote for MVP. One was Johnny Gaudreau, one was Roberto Luongo and one was Taylor Hall.

Hall was glad that in the end it was the write-in candidate that was victorious: John Scott.

“We were all really happy for him and pulling for him. For him to have his family here, his wife and to win MVP. I think they can use that car. Just a great experience,” Hall stated.

The Oilers winger felt that the entire experience was one to remember and in the end the tournament format lent itself to quite a bit of competitive hockey.

“It was a ton of fun. The city of Nashville, their fans were awesome. Just being around the guys and being able to experience the whole all-star event was a whole lot of fun. And to win to top it off is great.

“I thought we were trying pretty hard. We managed to get a few breakaways and two-on-ones. The goalies played huge. It was great to see John Scott score a couple goals and chip in.”

When asked what he'll remember most from his first NHL All-Star Weekend as a participant, Hall didn't hesitate.

“The win. John Scott winning MVP, being around him for the weekend and seeing what that was like. My first all-star game, I don’t think you can ever forget that.”

POSTED ON Sunday, 01.31.2016 / 7:17 PM MT
By Marc Ciampa - / Inside the Oilers

One of the more interesting storylines of the day was the three-man unit that Pacific Division head coach Darryl Sutter designed which had Calgary Flames defenceman Mark Giordano and Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau skating with Oilers forward Taylor Hall.

“It’s funny that Darryl put us together. Two great players," said Hall after the game. "Gaudreau makes everyone around him better and Giordano was just as competitive as a real game. It was a lot of fun playing with those guys. To score a couple goals in an all-star game was pretty cool.”

Hall had two goals and an assist while Johnny Gaudreau had a goal and two helpers. Gaudreau also enjoyed playing with Hall.

“It was cool. We get to play against each other all the time with the Battle of Alberta and how exciting that is. It’s just nice to have him on our side for once because you can see how skilled he is,” said Gaudreau.

Mark Giordano had an assist as well as the third man on the unit. He talked about Hall and Gaudreau playing together.

“It was pretty impressive how much chemistry him and Johnny seemed to have right from the first shift. I don’t know how the fans reacted to it back home but it was pretty cool for tonight, to get the win.”

POSTED ON Sunday, 01.31.2016 / 5:55 PM MT
By Marc Ciampa - / Inside the Oilers

Corey Perry scored the lone goal in an outstanding capper to the NHL's three-on-three tournament at the All-Star Game as Team Pacific defeated Team Atlantic by a score of 1-0. John Scott, with two goals in the first game, won the MVP award.

Luongo made a nice save off his mask and at the other end of the ice, Quick used his glove to knock the puck out of harm's way and keep the game scoreless. Shots were 7-4 for Atlantic four minutes in.

Late in the first period, Luongo made a nice save on Joe Pavelski who was right on the doorstep as the game remained tied 0-0.

After one, the game remained scoreless. Shots were 12-10 for Pacific.

The first goal of the game finally came 3:38 into the second period. Daniel Sedin fed the puck over to Corey Perry whose wrist shot beat Ben Bishop, putting Pacific ahead 1-0.

Gaudreau was denied on a breakaway with 4:30 to play. He then set up Doughty for a chance but Doughty was stopped on his backhand attempt.

Perry looked to have scored his second of the game with 2:53 to go on a nifty wrist shot, picking the top corner on Bishop. Hall provided the screen in front on the goal. The play went under review to see if Hall had interfered with Bishop and ultimately it was ruled that he did. Game remained 1-0.

Atlantic Division called a timeout with 1:23 to play. Shots were even at 16-16 and their goaltender was pulled.
POSTED ON Sunday, 01.31.2016 / 4:37 PM MT
By Marc Ciampa - / Inside the Oilers

Taylor Hall had two goals and an assist and John Scott had a pair of goals to help lead Team Pacific to a 9-6 win over Team Central. With the win, Team Pacific advances to the final to play Team Atlantic.

26 seconds into the game, James Neal scored to give Team Central a 1-0 lead. 21 seconds later, John Scott scored, redirecting a pass from Brent Burns to tie the game at 1-1.

Taylor Hall's first shift came right after the Scott goal. Hall was playing on a line with two Calgary Flames: Mark Giordano and Johnny Gaudreau.

Hall and Gaudreau broke in behind the Central defence and nearly scored. Hall dished the puck to Gaudreau but Pekka Rinne made a nice stop.

Rinne received a penalty for playing the puck outside of the trapezoid, resulting in the first power play of the day.

On the man advantage, Pacific converted for a goal to take the lead. Pavelski picked up a rebound and hammered it home past Rinne to make it 2-1 for the white side.

With 1:59 to go in the first, James Neal scored his second of the game, going five-hole on Jonathan Quick to knot the game at 2-2.

16 seconds later, Hall made a brilliant pass up to Gaudreau and Giordano, sending the two Flames alone on a two-on-none. Gaudreau picked the top corner to put Pacific back in the lead.

Scott pushed Patrick Kane aside and created a breakaway attempt. However, it was Kane who tied it with 33 seconds to go in the first not long after that. After scoring, Kane jokingly dropped his gloves and went after Scott in a mock fight.

It was tied 3-3 after one with Pacific leading 8-7 on the shot clock.

Daniel Sedin's goal 1:49 into the second period put Pacific Division back in the lead.

On a breakaway, John Scott scored with 6:33 to play. He wired a shot glove side on Devan Dubnyk to extend Pacific's lead to 5-3.

Taylor Hall worked a give-and-go with Johnny Gaudreau to make it a 6-3 lead for Pacific with 5:56 to go.

Daniel Sedin made it 7-3 on a scramble in front of the Central goal but then the black team responded with two quick goals, by Tyler Seguin and Dustin Byfuglien, to narrow the gap to 7-5.

After a brilliant save by Gibson, Gaudreau and Hall broke in a two-on-none. Gaudreau dropped the puck back to Hall who scored on Dubnyk with a nifty move.

Doughty netted an empty netter with 1:15 to go to make it 9-5. Nine seconds later, Central scored to narrow the gap to three once again on a blast by Roman Josi.

Final shot count in the game was 22-17 for Pacific.

POSTED ON Sunday, 01.31.2016 / 3:44 PM MT
By Marc Ciampa - / Inside the Oilers

Team Atlantic defeated Team Metropolitan 4-3 in the first game of the NHL's 3-on-3 All-Star Game Tournament, advancing to the final round.

Kris Letang opened the scoring with a wrist shot from the high slot, giving Team Metropolitan Division a 1-0 lead only 1:01 in.

Braden Holtby denied Jaromir Jagr on two great chances from in front about three minutes into the opening period but a minute later, Erik Karlsson's wrister from the slot beat Holtby five hole to tie the game up at 1-1.

Metropolitan regained their lead after Evgeny Kuznetsov completed a two-on-one with Ryan McDonagh, firing the puck into an open net with Roberto Luongo well out of position on the play.

Late in the first period, Luongo made an unbelievable glove save on a slapper from Evgeni Malkin. Moments later, Jaromir Jagr skated in on a breakaway and scored to tie the game with 37.3 seconds to go in the first.

After one period, shots on goal were 10-10 and the game was tied 2-2.

To start the second (and final) period, Malkin scored on a spin-o-rama move on a breakaway to put Metropolitan up 3-2. The goal was scored on Ben Bishop, who replaced Luongo in goal.

Atlantic tied it up again with 7:08 to play. Ekblad quickly redirected a cross-crease pass from Ryan O'Reilly.

With 4:38 to go, Atlantic took the lead when Dylan Larkin fed P.K. Subban on a two-on-one. He ripped the shot past Cory Schneider for the goal.

In the final minute, Letang was denied on a breakaway by Bishop. That was as close as Metropolitan would get.

Final shot count was 22-22.

POSTED ON Sunday, 01.31.2016 / 12:07 PM MT
By Marc Ciampa - / Inside the Oilers

The NHL has released details of how today's three-on-three tournament will work. They are as follows:

The 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Game will feature a 3-on-3 All-Star Tournament. The new format will divide the All-Star Game into three 20-minute games, with star players from each Division making up the four All-Star teams: Pacific, Central, Atlantic, and Metropolitan. Players are facing off for a winner-take-all $1 million prize.

Each game will be 20 minutes in length. Teams will change ends at the 10-minute mark of each game. Games that are tied after 20 minutes will be decided by a shootout.

The Eastern Conference won the Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition and elected to play the first game today. Accordingly, the Atlantic Division All-Stars (wearing black) will face the Metropolitan Division All-Stars (wearing white) in the first of the two semifinal games, followed by

Central Division All-Stars (wearing black) against the Pacific Division All-Stars (wearing white) in the second semifinal.

Other notable rules include:

  • All NHL Rules apply to each game.
  • Each game will be 20 minutes in length, with two 10-minute periods per game.
  • There will be a hard whistle at the 10-minute mark of each game. At this time, teams and goalies will change ends.
  • Video Review will be used to confirm all goals. NHL Hockey Operations will initiate any potential coach’s challenge reviews.
  • All minor penalties will be one-minute in length. Manpower advantages during these penalties will reflect current NHL Rules, where at no time will a team have less than three players on the ice – this may require a fourth and/or fifth skater to be added.
  • Games that are tied after 20 minutes will be decided by a shootout using current NHL shootout rules.
  • All three games will be officiated by referees Dan O’Rourke and Ian Walsh, and linesman Jonny Murray and Vaughan Rody.
POSTED ON Saturday, 01.30.2016 / 7:13 PM MT
By Marc Ciampa - / Inside the Oilers

Taylor Hall won his heat in the Fastest Skater event at the NHL Skills Competition with a time of 13.654, defeating Ottawa's Erik Karlsson. It was an even race until Karlsson stumbled and got spun around on the final turn, resulting in lost time for the Sens defenceman. Hall didn't expect the format to be the way it was where he had to battle Karlsson directly.

“I didn’t expect that. Kind of find out right before the event. It was still fun to go out there and to see the record being broke. That was pretty cool. He can fly,” Hall said after the competition.

Hall was the only Western Conference skater to win, with the other three heats going to the East. Dylan Larkin also broke Mike Gartner's 20-year-old record of 13.3, coming in at 13.1 in his final full-rink lap. After the Fastest Skater event, East had a 5-1 lead over West.

Overall, Hall had the fourth-fastest time among all skaters.

Hall also passed the puck in the one-timer challenge as part of the relay. He fed pucks to Shea Weber, Drew Doughty and Corey Perry. It took them a shade under 45 seconds to complete the task.

In the Shootout event, Hall did not score on either of his two attempts on Capitals netminder Braden Holtby.

One of the highlights of the night was the Breakaway event, where Brent Burns was dressed in a Chewbacca mask and P.K. Subban dressed up as Jaromir Jagr among other antics.

“I thought that was hilarious. The crowd was amazing tonight and really boosted everyone. Sometimes that breakaway challenge can be a little bit corny but I was laughing the whole time. It was great,” said Hall.
POSTED ON Saturday, 01.30.2016 / 2:44 PM MT
By Marc Ciampa - / Inside the Oilers

A newer tradition that has been added to the NHL All-Star Game in recent years is having the players walk the red carpet prior to arrival at the rink for the NHL Skills Competition. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins did it last year in Columbus and Jordan Eberle in 2012 in Ottawa. This time it was Taylor Hall's turn.

“I think it’s a really good experience. Being able to walk the red carpet isn’t something you get to do every day. Trying to soak it all in and have fun,” Hall began, adding that he's really enjoyed his time so far in the Music City.

“Nashville’s a great city. The weather’s been great. A lot of fan support and being able to do stuff like this is pretty cool,” he continued. “Having fun with it.”

Hall's mom, aunt and cousin have all joined him here in Nashville. The Oilers winger added that he's glad he's been able to share this experience with them.

“That’s one of the best thing is having family here and having them experience it.”