Jordan Eberle scored his 100th career NHL goal on Thursday night against Ottawa. It took him 291 games to get to that mark.
“You look back on it and I was actually watching the video that the Oilers put up yesterday of all of them and it was pretty cool to watch,” Eberle said. “It seems like time has definitely flown by and it’s pretty neat that I’ve done it all here.”
Eberle said the first was probably his most memorable.
“Most people remember their first one,” he said. “It was pretty special, in my first game and my family was there. It was pretty awesome. Going through them, you definitely remember most of them. That was pretty neat as well.”
100 down, many more to come.
“I still feel like I’ve got a lot more, so hopefully it continues.”
Dallas Eakins will coach his 100th NHL game tomorrow night against the Coyotes. In his second year with the Oilers, the players have noticed him evolving as a head coach in the league.
“This year, he’s been awesome,” Jordan Eberle said. “As far as the practices we’ve been running, they’ve been quick paced in tempo. I think the more you’re with the coach, the more familiarity you get with him and you know what he expects. I think having him around this year, we’ve had so many coaching changes, it has definitely helped by getting right back into it and the systems we established last year. More than anything, it’s how he runs the bench and everything like that. It just makes it a lot easier on everybody.”
Eakins reflected on his first 99 games with the club today after practice and says it’s been a good situation for him, coaching in Edmonton.
“I didn’t even know it has been 100 games,” Eakins said. “It has been what coaching is. You’re in the battle every day. My family loves living in the city, we like the challenge of coaching and my girls are settled in so on the family side it has been excellent. I work for extremely good people, which is excellent and we’re encouraged that our team is getting better.”
The Oilers could be getting a huge boost to their lineup tomorrow night against the Arizona Coyotes. Their top left winger Taylor Hall could be back from his MCL sprain.
“I think if morning skate goes as well as I think it will then I’ll be playing,” Hall said.
After another good day of practice, how it feels tomorrow morning will decide if Hall plays or not.
“There’s not too much pain anymore,” he said. “The pain dissolved after a couple of days. It’s more of just strength and being able to rely on it. Like I said, today was another good day and I want to keep going.”
However, he is wearing a black jersey along with Luke Gazdic. It does not appear as though he will have a regular line to skate on today.
The Oilers forward lines are as follows:
“So impressed. So impressed.”
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins left his head coach thoroughly pleased with his performance against Ottawa on Thursday night. The centre is going to be, if he isn’t already, a very good NHL player.
Taken first overall in 2011, Nugent-Hopkins has taken great strides this season both on the ice and as a leader.
When the Oilers were down 3-0, Nugent-Hopkins showed his resiliency and demanded better.
“It’s fun to watch him,” Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins said. “It’s fun to watch this kid grow into whatever player he’s going to turn into. He’d been a horse for us on that road trip and tonight, as he was battling through too, you could see him, his eyes narrow and him dig his heels in and basically say, ‘I’m going to change this game now.’”
Nugent-Hopkins had a partial breakaway shortly before the end of the first period. He earned an assist on Jordan Eberle’s 100th career NHL goal that drew the Oilers within one. He was also instrumental on the game-tying goal when he carried the puck strong into the zone and set up Jeff Petry for the tally.
The Oilers lost 4-3 in overtime, but their push back was impressive.
Having the Oilers best players put the team on their back and turn a game around is, “a great sign.”
Eakins said, “As these guys mature, I think you’re going to see more and more of it. They’re able to do it not just occasionally anymore. They’re getting to a point, they’re not there yet but they’re getting to a point, where they’re strong enough to do it, confident enough to do it, mentally tough enough to do it and it’s a part of their development. We saw a bunch of it on the road trip, but I think our fans got a very clear view of which way this young man is going.”
Nugent-Hopkins leads the Oilers in scoring with 13 points (5-8-13) in 15 games.
Iiro Pakarinen put up good numbers in seven games with the Oklahoma City Barons this season. He scored eight points, including a team-high five goals.
His efforts helped earn him a call up by the Oilers. They also left a mark on Barons Head Coach Todd Nelson.
“The first thing that comes to mind when you meet him is how mature he is for his age and he’s a consummate professional,” Nelson said. “He’s played in the international scene but coming here we were expecting a bit of an adjustment, but he adjusted fine. He’s a very complete hockey player. When we were looking at him for some of the areas to help him grow there isn’t a lot there, especially at this level. Everybody can get faster, everybody can shoot harder and move the puck better. With him, he plays a skilled game but he also plays an abrasive style where he’s good defensively, he’s good on the walls and he’s a big, strong guy. He has a lot going on for him. If he plays the way I think he can up in Edmonton I don’t think I’ll get him back.”
Pakarinen makes his NHL and Oilers debut tonight in Boston.
The Oilers assigned Luke Gazdic to Oklahoma City for a two-week conditioning stint as he returns from shoulder surgery.
Gazdic scored a goal in his first game with OKC on November 1. His shoulder feels great just two games into his return.
“It’s been good,” Gazdic said. “Last weekend, I got those two games in back-to-back. It felt good, we got a couple of wins here with the guys and I was playing a lot of minutes. I feel great, (the shoulder is) strong, it’s solid. I didn’t have any fights, but I put in a goal and was getting in on the forecheck.”
Gazdic hasn’t had to fight anyone yet to really test out the shoulder, but he knows he might have to answer the bell before his time in OKC is complete.
“There’s a little bit of chirping going on back and forth but that’s just to be expected with the type of game I play. We have another tough team in Toronto coming in on Saturday. I wouldn’t be surprised in the next three games here if something happened but we’ll see. It’s inevitable sometimes with the style of play and the way I approach the game. I play it hard, I play it fast and sometimes the fighting comes to me more than I initiative.”
The Oilers announced today they have loaned defenceman Brandon Davidson to the Oklahoma City Barons.
Davidson has been recovering from an off-season groin injury. The defenceman played in 68 games for the Barons last season, recording 13 points (5-8-13) and 58 penalty minutes.
He was drafted in the sixth round, 162nd overall, in 2010.
The Oilers may get Nikita Nikitin back into the fold sooner rather than later. The defenceman has missed the last two games with back spasms. He was on the ice at practice on Friday.
“It will be tomorrow,” Head Coach Dallas Eakins said of when they’ll know if Nikitin is ready to play. “With those backs you never know what’s going to happen. He came in yesterday on a day off, which he is not required to do, on his own and had some of our guys here. He skated yesterday, which was the first positive. He got through practice, which is the second. We’ll see how his bed treats that back tonight and we’ll make the decision tomorrow.”