Jujhar Khaira continues to get his chance to show the coaching staff what he’s all about. On Thursday night against San Jose, the 21-year-old forward recorded his second career NHL assist and displayed his toughness with his first NHL fight.
Khaira crushes Justin Braun with a clean, hard hit behind the net and then answered the bell by dropping the gloves with Brenden Dillon.
“I was just trying to be hard to play against,” said Khaira. “Behind the net, I had the opportunity to hit someone and I did. Like any good teammate, he’s going to stick up for his guy 100 percent of the time. I feel that anybody on our team would do the same. I thought the fight went well, it was fun. A couple bumps and bruises, but it was good.”
Khaira is just six games into his NHL career, but he has shown off size and physicality and has been able to play in a top-six role the last few contests. What the Oilers want now is to see just a little bit more and they want the young forward to believe in his own abilities, because the club believes in him.
“I like his physicality, his size, and I think there’s more there,” said Head Coach Todd McLellan. “I think he has to get his confidence up. We’re playing him like we really believe in him and he’s got to believe in himself a little bit more because I think there’s more there. He’ll learn situations a little bit better, but his size offset a little bit of their size tonight.”
Khaira’s assist was a nice pass out in front on Jordan Eberle’s game-tying goal at 8:21 of the third.
The Oilers 4-3 overtime win over the San Jose Sharks on Thursday marked their fourth straight victory and fifth straight at home. They didn’t get the win “the easy way,” as their head coach admitted after the game.
Thursday night was a game full of momentum swings. There were fights, there was pushback, and if one team scored the other answered.
“I liked our pushback,” said Oilers forward Jordan Eberle. “I think that’s number one. The best part of our game tonight was our pushback. We found a way to get another one. When they scored, we found a way to tie it. I thought when we needed to, we were there and we found a way to get two points. That’s all that matters.”
Some of the Oilers players in the locker room were left wanting more after the game, given the excitement and the wild changes and turns of the night.
“It was a fun game to be in, to be honest with you,” said Leon Draisaitl. “The crowd was in it, obviously, and it went up and down. We had momentum, then they did. I think it’s huge for us to get another win and finish off the homestand here.”
Iiro Pakarinen conceited that the team didn’t play its best game of the season, but was happy they could ride out the momentum shifts and get another victory.
“If we can win maybe a little bit worse game than usual and if we can beat a team like that, that’s a good sign from our team,” said Pakarinen.
|Taylor Hall celebrates scoring the overtime game-winning goal as the Oilers take the 4-3 win over the Sharks. Photo by Andy Devlin.|
Coming off a loss last night in Cowtown, the San Jose Sharks were bound and determined for a win tonight, but the Oilers refused to give, sealing a 4-3 overtime win.
“I was real happy with our effort,” said Sharks Head Coach Peter DeBoer.
“I thought we could have had two or three in the first — we came ready to play. Their goalie was good and it was a good hockey game but for us, playing back-to-back…I thought we gave a hell of an effort and probably deserve better.”
Though the Oilers held a 1-0 lead for the first two periods, the Sharks finally started to connect with the net, eventually taking a 3-2 lead with less than eight minutes remaining.
“We got moving, we stayed with the plan, I think we started getting more pucks on the net, that was the big thing,” said Sharks centre Joe Pavelski.
“And Brauny gets a good goal for us in the slot and kind of got things going, gave us a little confidence, a little boost there and just went back and forth there at the end.”
An overtime goal from Taylor Hall at the 1:01-mark secured the Sharks fate.
“We felt we didn’t give them a whole lot there really but they’re still going to come…we had the power play there in the end and a few chances — we definitely wanted the two points though,” said Pavelski.
Four former Oilers captains gathered at Rexall Place on Wednesday to share their thoughts on Glen Sather and his banner-raising ceremony, which will take place on Friday night when the Oilers host the New York Rangers.
Al Hamilton, Craig MacTavish, Kelly Buchberger and Kevin Lowe spoke with the media and answered questions about Sather and what made the former coach and manager a valuable piece to the franchise’s success.
“One of the true strengths of Glen was his ability to let people do their job,” said MacTavish. “I think that’s maybe one of his most defining qualities. Glen also cared very deeply about the players. We always knew that he cared about us. Glen had a little bit of a rule that we all tried to abide by in that if you ever got into any situation at all, any questionable situation, make sure he was the first guy you called. And if you did that, you had an ally and if you didn’t do that and he found out about something, then you had a real enemy. He was very loyal to the players.”
Sather showed his caring of the players by holding them accountable and insisting that if they ever needed anything to come to him first.
“With Glen, he always wanted to make our team a family. You’re always accountable for yourself. Like Mac said before, if you got in trouble, you’d have to contact him first. But unfortunately sometimes, I didn’t contact him and I’d get scolded. Maybe that’s why he left me unprotected in the ’99 expansion draft and never told me,” Buchberger laughed.
On Friday night, Oil Country celebrates one of their legends. Sather will join Hamilton, Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri, Grant Fuhr, Paul Coffey, Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson and Rod Phillips in the Rexall Place rafters.
“If you ask any or all of the banner guys, they’ll conclude or agree that Glen is an equal part to the success of the team, regardless of the lofty status of the banner guys and what they were able to achieve on the ice. I’m not sure any of this happens without Glen,” said Lowe.
The Edmonton Oilers announced today, they have placed defenceman Mark Fayne on waivers for the purpose of assignment to the American Hockey League's (AHL) Bakersfield Condors
BLOG POSTS & FEATURES
- BLOG: Khaira credite with first NHL point
- BLOG: In the hunt
- BLOG: McLellan facing former team
- BLOG: Tuesday practice updates
- TOP 5: Sather moments
- PRACTICE | Tuesday at Rexall Place
- PRACTICE RAW | Justin Schultz
- PRACTICE RAW | Jujhar Khaira
- PRACTICE RAW | Todd McLellan
The Oilers were excited following their Sunday night game against the Buffalo Sabres. Following that 4-2 victory, the club was only three points out of a playoff spot when exactly a year before they were 15 back.
Knowing they’re still just a couple games back of the playoffs energizes the players in the locker room.
“I think, last year, you look at this time of the season, going into the Christmas break, we were out of the playoffs,” said Matt Hendricks. “You could count us out. Mathematically, maybe not 100 percent out but we were a long way from the playoffs. Now, for me, this is why I play. I love this. This is the best. Playoff hunt. We’re a long ways away from the playoffs, but we’re in a good position right now.”
The Oilers don’t need any reminding about what lies ahead for them. They want to continue to progress as they have this last stretch and stay in the hunt. Despite numerous injuries, Edmonton is 4-1-0 in their last five games. They have at least a point in five of their last six.
“Everyone on the team right now knows where we are in the standings. It’s not ‘well, why do I need to look today? I know where we are’ type of thing,” said Hendricks. “We have an opportunity here. We’ve got 50 games to go, or whatever it is, this year. We’ve got a lot of hockey left. We’re in a position right now where we kind of hold our cards. We hold our own destiny right now. We’ve battled. We’ve overcome some tough injuries and it’s a good spot to be sitting in this time of year.”
Todd McLellan spent seven seasons in San Jose as the head coach of the Sharks. He missed the playoffs just once in that span, his final season with the club, last year.
Tomorrow night will be McLellan’s first time facing his former team as the bench boss of the Oilers.
“It’s always a different night when you go back and play against your old team,” said McLellan. “I remember going into Minnesota, going into Detroit and now playing against San Jose. San Jose was a long period for myself and my family there. We absolutely loved it. The organization, the ownership, the management, Doug Wilson and his team treated me tremendously well. They gave me an opportunity to enter the league as a young coach. They gave me a tremendous team to work with and the players, from the older ones… all the way down, I have a ton of respect for them. It will be nice to see faces but when the puck is dropped our job is to go out and win a game and that’s what we’ll try and do.”
The Oilers may get a little bit of an edge in their pre-scout with McLellan on their side, as he knows the players well.
“Individually, he’s going to be able to say a few more details about players,” said Matt Hendricks. “He understands the way they play and what they want and what they look for. Maybe we can have some cues on how to frustrate them more than the average team.”
In addition to the “inside info,” McLellan facing his former team could provide more emotional motivation for the players on the bench.
“Yeah, I think so,” said Hendricks. “I think we want to win for him, for sure.”
On Tuesday, it was announced that Khaira, in fact, had assisted on the goal and he could finally celebrate a career first.
“Guys kept bringing it up,” said Khaira. “I wasn’t really too worried about it. As long as I’m playing well and the team is playing well, that’s really number one right now. I wasn’t too worried.”
Even though he says it wasn’t on his mind, it’s a relief for Khaira to know five games into his NHL career he does in fact have a point.
“It’s nice. It is nice just to say I’ve got one,” said Khaira. “Now that that is over and done with I can move forward and just try to build off that.”
Stay tuned for more updates.