Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins sat his top line — David Perron, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins — for a good chunk of the third period. The trio had a tough game, with all three finishing -3 on the night.
“They weren’t doing anything. That line, along with a couple of other forwards — Ebs plays on that line every once in awhile — we’re not a deep enough team to have the luxury of them having an off night. They can’t ever have an off night.”
Eakins did say that he liked the way the trio handled the adversity while they were being sat.
“They weren’t very good early and it got to a point where it was time for them to sit and watch. I will say this, I did like the way they handled it. They were still upbeat on the bench, they were encouraging their teammates. They weren’t sitting there sulking. That was encouraging to me but they can’t play like that. We need them every night for us to be in the game.”
The top line was out there for the opening draw in the third period.
“I talked to the line in between periods and told them what my concerns were, I expressed how important they are to our team success. And it was time to get them back out there.”
It was a familiar refrain, but Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins spoke after the game about how the team needs to get better at protecting the puck and not turning it over.
“The game was fine. We were playing fine until that second goal. It was laid on a platter, a gift, a simple play on the wall. Can’t happen. And now you’re down two against San Jose and now it’s big problems.”
The first San Jose goal was on a tough rebound but the second one came after Nail Yakupov turned the puck over near the Oilers blue line. Patrick Marleau took advantage and wired a shot past Dubnyk to complete the set of two goals in 49 seconds.
Eakins said he hoped that the team would be able to refocus quickly for their final game of the trip against the Ducks.
“You hope that we can turn the page quickly but losing like that, when you’re in the game. It’s 1-0 and then you gift them the second, third and fourth — and the second one hurt because it was so late in the first period. That’s the only thing you can do. You’ve got to take your lesson, take your lumps and get ready for the next game.”
San Jose is a team that the Oilers aspire to be some day. Eakins talked about that after the game.
“This is exactly where we want to get to, the type of game that they play. I’m sure our guys will rebound off that — the guys who had off nights,” said Eakins. “The one thing that’s consistent, when you look at these good teams, the teams that are at the top of their conference, it’s the simple things. They always have a great F-3 in the offensive zone. Not just for defence, but for offence. They never turn over pucks. If you’re going to beat them you’ve got to come the whole length of the ice. They defend first. It’s always defend first, that’s how they play and it’s the only way you can win. We have to step away from this whole idea that we’re skilled, we’re skilled, we’re skilled. We need to defend first and that’s it. We will never, ever have any success until we start with that mindset. And it’s something that we have to accept and embrace.”
Oilers captain Andrew Ference agreed with his head coach.
“They’re a very tough team. If you’re going to come in here and have any chance of success, you have to not make the game any harder on yourself than it already is,” Ference began. “When you’re playing against the top teams they create a lot of chances just because they are who they are. If you have any hope to come in here and make a game of it, you have to limit your mistakes.”
Eakins says that there are times when he sees from his team what he saw from the Sharks tonight.
“Believe me, we’ve seen flashes of it where we’ve come out and defended well. And we get rewarded when we do it. But the nights like tonight where we gift a couple goals and then we’re not able to defend it, we’re in big trouble.”
|Dubnyk's new goalie pads, which he will wear tonight for the first time.
Devan Dubnyk will be wearing a new set of goalie pads tonight. He had been practicing with this set for about a month and finally feels comfortable enough to use them in a game.
"I think I'm a lot worse for breaking in new pads (than most other goalies)," laughed Dubnyk. "I've had those pads for a long time now. I don't even know if you can call them new anymore."
Ilya Bryzgalov was quick to adopt his new Oilers-themed pads.
"Bryz was into his within a week. I used to be able to wear a new set of pads right out of the box but for whatever reason, the last few years I've gotten real bad for changing out of them. I've had these for probably a month and I feel like they're broken in enough and feel really similar to my other ones. As soon as it gets to the point where I don't notice the difference, I'll wear them."
Brossoit won ECHL goaltender of the week.
From the ECHL's press release:
The 20-year-old went 2-0-0 with one shutout, a 1.50 goals-against average and a save percentage of .935 last week.
Brossoit made 20 saves in the (Bakersfield) Condors’ 4-3 win against Las Vegas last Thursday and followed that up with his league-leading fourth shutout of the season with 23 saves in a 3-0 victory over Idaho on Sunday.
A native of Surrey, British Columbia, Brossoit has five shutouts in seven starts split between Alaska and Bakersfield. Overall in eight appearances, he is 6-1-0 with a 0.70 goals-against average and a save percentage of .967.
Rimmer, who is signed by the Oklahoma City Barons to an AHL contract, won CHL's rookie of the month.
From the CHL's press release:
Rimmer won three of his five starts in the month, all on the road, allowing just three total goals during his trio of victories. He finished December with a 2.01 goals against average and a .938 save percentage. The Edmonton native also earned his first American Hockey League call-up early in the month being summoned by the Oklahoma City Barons (the top affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers).
The 21-year-old’s best showing came in his (first) pro shutout when he stopped 48 shots in a 2-0 win in Rapid City, the league’s top team. On the season, Rimmer is 7-5-2 with a 2.76 goals against average.
Oilers prospect Anton Slepyshev picked up three assists to help lead his Russian squad to a 5-3 win over USA in the quarterfinals on Thursday at the World Junior Hockey Championships.
Slepyshev assisted on the opening goal for the Russians by Grigorenko. Then in the second period, with Russia down 3-2, he assisted on a pair of goals by Nikita Zadorov while on the power play. The goals were 1:01 apart.
Bogdan Yakimov was -1 on the day with no points.
Through five games, Slepyshev is tied for his team lead with seven points (2 goals, 5 assists). He also leads the team with a +7 rating and is third with 13 shots on goal.
On a day when the U.S. Olympic team was announced, Taylor Hall was asked about what he thought about his chances of making the Canadian squad which will be announced next week. He did not feel like he would be named.
|Taylor Hall is interviewed at the Canadian Olympic Selection Camp
"I think I've been playing well lately for sure but there's a lot of really good players on that team," said Hall when asked about his chances. "You always look to reasons why you want to play well and just like we talked about last night, it's your job to go out and produce every night. Certainly, reasons like that definitely give you hope and you want to play well for that. We just want to win games and go from there."
Coach Eakins felt that Hall deserved to merit consideration.
"I don't pay a whole lot of attention to the process but I'm sure if you go compare him to the left wingers that he's up against, I'm not sure how you don't take him."
Building on his words from about a week ago, Eakins felt that Hall has improved on both sides of the game and perhaps even more so defensively.
"If you were to go defensively on a most improved player this year -- and we've had some guys improve -- I'd put Taylor right at the top of the list. The way he competes every night has been a breath of fresh air on a lot of difficult nights. Last night I thought we saw it again where after a real tough first period for our team, he put us on his shoulders and started to carry. And he rubs off on guys. You can see it in Nuge's game and Ebs and Perron. And we want that to continue."
Last game, Hall was a +2 with three assists as his line controlled the play whenever they were on the ice.
"It was a game where Perron, myself and Nuge seemed to connect pretty well on a few opportunities. We started off by playing a simple game and then it extrapolated from there. When we're playing well, we're playing a hard, heavy game, getting in on the forecheck and making plays when we have the puck and not forcing things. That was the case last night."
Hall has 15 goals and 38 points in 35 games this season. That puts him in a tie for 16th in the NHL in points and 23rd in goals. He is tied for 11th in points among Canadians and third among Canadian left wingers (his linemate David Perron is fourth according to NHL.com, though he plays right wing on the Oilers).
"I feel pretty good with my game. My game seems to go in hills and valleys sometimes. You've just got to ride the momentum and keep doing the things you need to do to be successful and right now that's playing a simple game, a good defensive game with my linemates and trying to produce with them."
|Photo by Jeff Nash / Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club
Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins said that this was the next step in the plan that he and Nail were talking about in their 40-minute discussion on Monday.
"Just adhering to the plan," Eakins said about Nail Yakupov. "Not trying to do things by himself, not trying to adlib, not trying to play like he did last year. We want him to play the system and the way we're trying to get our whole group to play. And that's his challenge. He fully understands it. And he fully understands that there's a little bit of heat on him to play and play well. He's with two good players, two experienced players, he's going to get some looks on one of our power plays where we've put him right back to where he's been before."
It appears that Yakupov's minutes will increase and from what Eakins saw at practice, he was doing well on the power play in his usual spot.
"By this morning's practice, he was having some success over there. But the important thing is to get him up and going and get him back into the rhythm of playing a little bit more minutes."
Oilers goaltender Ilya Brzygalov had another performance versus a former team where he made a large number of saves and got his side into overtime but the Edmonton squad was unable to come away with two points.
"We were so close to the win again in this game. But it slipped away from us," said Brzygalov after practice in San Jose on Wednesday. He added that he feels, and has always felt, that he could improve with his play.
|Ilya Bryzgalov faces a shootout attempt last Saturday (photo by Marko Ditkun / EOHC)
"You always have room to grow and work. You never stop, you always have to ask the question how can I be better and what can I do to make myself better?
"You should always think you can do better."
After the tying goal went in with 1:10 left, Brzygalov showed some frustration on the ice. It was similar to the game against the Flyers where he threw his stick in the air after Philly tied it late.
"It was a home game against Philly where he tossed his stick and I asked him what his frustration was, and his frustration was that he had let in a goal that he thought he should have had. He wanted to beat his old team and he was frustrated with himself," Eakins began.
The bench boss was asked about the outward emotion and he had an interesting take on the situation.
"I don't mind showing emotion. I think it's great probably once or twice a year in an 82-game schedule where the goalie smashes his stick over the crossbar in great frustration. I'm fairly certain that Bryz was probably more frustrated with the situation. But you're right, you have to watch your body language on the ice. And it's not so much about your team, body language to me is 'what are you selling? What are you telling everyone?' as soon as your body language goes south, if it's a consistent thing, you're certainly selling something to the other team."