Linus Omark made his initial Oilers debut in a memorable game several years ago against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Omark's spin move at centre ice prior to scoring a shootout goal helped lead Edmonton to the win.
"It seems like it's always the Lightning," Omark laughed.
Yesterday, coach Eakins stressed that Omark needs to buy in to the team's defensive strategy to stay on the team. That was something that Omark acknowledged today.
"I need to play my game, be responsible with the puck on defence too," he said.
Taylor Hall returns to the lineup tonight after missing seven games with a knee injury suffered back on October 22.
"It's good that I didn't miss the four weeks that were planned. If I felt good enough to play I knew I had to play," said Hall following the skate. At practice yesterday I felt ready to go. I was planning to play Saturday but felt good enough to go today."
The original prognosis for Hall was that he would be out four weeks but the left winger always felt that he would be back in the lineup sooner than that.
"I had a feeling I'd be back sooner. I had a goal of three weeks when it first happened and I'm back even sooner than that."
He does have to wear a knee brace the rest of the season, however.
"It's fine. It's a little clunky but it feels good on my knee."
Coach Eakins was happy to have Hall back in the lineup. In nine games this season, Hall has eight points (3g, 5a).
"He's been cleared to play and he will play," announced the head coach, adding that he's not averse to playing him for big minutes. "How he's going and how the team is going will determine how much ice time he gets tonight."
The Oilers are on the ice for morning skate at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Seven defencemen are on the ice: Nick Schultz, Ference, Fedun, Larsen, Smid, Petry and Anton Belov. Belov is skating with the team for the first time since suffering his lower-body injury on Saturday against Detroit.
Chance that Taylor Hall is in...looks like Eager and Acton could be out...those 2 are doing extra work— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) November 7, 2013
Oilers projected lines:Hemsky-RNH-Eberle, Hall-Gagner-Yakupov, Omark-Gordon-Arcobello, Jones-Smyth-Gazdic— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) November 7, 2013
IN FOCUS | Taylor Fedun Story | Eakins comments on Yakupov rumours
RAW | Linus Omark | RAW | Taylor Fedun | RAW | Devan Dubnyk | RAW | Dallas Eakins
Dallas Eakins | Linus Omark | Taylor Fedun | Devan Dubnyk
Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins sat Nail Yakupov for the final 9:14 of the third period on Tuesday night as well as in overtime. When asked about it, the head coach said that it didn’t really have anything to do with how Yakupov played. In fact, he liked what he saw from the Russian winger.
“The thought process for me — I think I didn’t play him after the eight-and-a-half minute mark, somewhere around there — we had enough forwards that were playing really well defensively. It wasn’t more about protecting our team, it was about protecting the kid.”
Yakupov was on the ice for the first Panthers goal but certainly couldn’t have been faulted for it. In all, he had two shots on net in 12:47 of ice-time.
“I thought he had done enough well in the game defensively and tried hard enough that I just didn’t want anything to go wrong for him. We had enough guys to cover it off.
“They ended up tying the game there on a broken play but when you give up three chances in the third protecting a lead you’ve done one hell of a job. It was little to do with his play, it was more of, listen, you had a sound game for what we were looking for from you and that was enough.”
“I didn’t want anything crazy to happen for him to put a negative spin on it. And now, sitting for eight minutes seems to be a negative spin but it wasn’t. I was happy with his game and I just wanted it to end there and protect him.”
During practice on Wednesday, Dallas Eakins had a long conversation on the ice with Nail Yakupov. It wasn’t your normal coach/player conversation.
“The conversation with Yak was simple. I see him trying to hard to be better defensively and to learn this defensive system that we’re trying to implement. I thought he made a couple of good plays defensively yesterday. I saw the process go through his head on the ice. That was encouraging for me.”
Eakins also made sure to talk about recent rumours surrounding Yakupov potentially being dealt and wanted to ensure the Russian forward knew that there was no truth to them.
“I wanted to also let him know that these reports in the media, the people that are making trades for him are absolutely, 100% untrue. This kid is not going anywhere.
“Guys like Joe Thornton. The kid here, Stamkos. Those guys struggled early in their careers and, boy, they turned out to be pretty good players. Nail Yakupov is not being shopped, he’s not going anywhere and I wanted him to hear that from me, look in my eyes and let him know that we’re attached at the hip. We’re going to make him a better player. It’s okay to struggle.”
Thornton only had three goals and seven points in his first season where he played only 55 games and was frequently a healthy scratch. In his second season, he had 41 points and 16 goals in 81 contests. Yakupov had 17 in 48 games last year but only one goal and three points in 14 contests this season.
“And I let him know about Thornton and Stamkos. It’s part of the process. He’s 20 years old and we’re not going to just suddenly give up on a guy because he’s going through a rough stretch. The people writing their columns and their blogs, they can create their excitement that way but all that’s out there is 100% untrue.”
This morning, the Oilers announced that Linus Omark had been recalled from the AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons. They had let Omark know he was coming up the night before so he was able to make it to Tampa in time for practice.
“I was happy for it. I’ve been working hard now and I hope I get an opportunity to show my best here.”
Omark added that the season has gone as he had expected, with him starting the year in the minors and then having to work his way up to the big club.
“I was prepared to go down to OKC from the start. I knew that I had to play good down there and hopefully (get) the chance. Now I’m here so I hope I get a game here and we’ll see.”
In 12 games in Oklahoma City, Omark has eight goals and 12 points to lead the team in both categories.
“I think I’ve played pretty good. Some games have been really good and some games have been not that good but overall I’ve played pretty good, I think. I’ve played with all kinds of different players because you’ve been hurt up here and they called up people and some guys injured down there. It’s been a strange year so far.”
Omark wasn’t on a line in practice but wouldn’t or couldn’t say whether he was in fact going to play tomorrow against the Lightning.
“We’ll see. You’ll have to ask the coach. We talked a little bit after. We’ll see tomorrow.”
Coach Eakins was equally non-committal when asked whether the forward might find his way into the lineup tomorrow night.
“Any player that’s here and healthy is a possibility to play so he may play,” said Eakins. The bench boss added what his expectations were for number 23.
“With Omark, I think it’s important for him to immediately what we’re trying to do with the identity of this team. We’re trying to restructure our identity that we’re a team that’s tough to get scoring chances against. We’re not using our skill to our advantage and the way to use our skill to our advantage is to be a team that you can’t get scoring chances against. That gets us the puck back quicker where we can use our skill.
“For him, he needs to be defensively responsible immediately and then that will help his offensive game. We just need him to be a responsible player and the rest will look after itself.”
The lines are:
Anton Belov and Justin Schultz skated prior to practice on their own.
Taylor Fedun’s first career NHL game couldn’t have gone much better than it did. He had a goal — the first of his NHL career — and was +2 on the night.
“I thought he was steady,” said Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins. “I thought, for his first game he played well. We were asking our D to join the rush in certain situations. That play developed perfectly. It was something we actually worked on at the morning skate this morning and he was able to finish. What a great way to start your career, get a goal and an important win for our team.”
"It was awesome to get out there in the first place and get my legs under me," said Fedun. "I had the opportunity to jump into the play and ultimately finish. It was a pretty special night."
Fedun described his goal:
“They dumped in and we were able to get back to it. And it was a good session of chips and supports by our guys. Every time someone chipped it, someone was there and we slowly beat our guys with all the chipping. And as that happened there was more and more space for me to jump up and find a lane.”
He was also impressed with the feed he got from Nugent-Hopkins.
“It’s right on your tape. I didn’t even have to think about it. He made it pretty easy for me.”