To say Anders Nilsson is comfortable in shootouts is probably underselling it a little. The Oilers goaltender is a perfect 6-0 lifetime in the skills competition and has stopped 13 of 16 attempts against.
This season, this past week even, Nilsson has two shootout wins for the Oilers. One came in Pittsburgh on November 28 and the other came last night at home against Boston.
“I feel pretty good. Me, personally, I like shootouts,” said Nilsson. “I’m just trying to be as patient as possible and trying to wait for the player to make the first move, trying not to bite too hard. We have some great players on our team that can really put the puck in the net and that helps me get some stress off my shoulders. It’s always good to know that when we have the chance of a shootout, we have a good chance at scoring.”
While Jordan Eberle is currently in the midst of a six-game streak in which he’s recorded no points, the Oilers winger feels it turning around.
Eberle feels the first step to sparking offence is generating more chances. The more chances you generate, the better chance one goes in. If one goes in, and you keep getting chances, more goals will come.
Against Boston, Eberle had a few looks at the net but couldn’t score in regulation or overtime. Instead, he netted the game-winning goal in the shootout, which is something that can give him a little extra skip in his step moving forward. In the end, however, it goes back to keeping your feet moving and generating chances. That’s something Eberle has felt creep back into his game as of late.
“You definitely gain confidence from that,” said Eberle. “I think more than anything, you want to generate chances. You just want to generate as many as you can a game and the odds are eventually something is going to go in your way. I thought I generated a lot more in Toronto than I had before and yesterday I generated a lot too. You’ve got to generate chances before the puck starts going in and then when it does you start just gaining confidence and things start snowballing from there.
“Obviously, I want the puck to go in really bad and I know it’s going to come. I’m confident in my ability and I’m playing with two good players. The other thing too is the whole team is kind of fighting it offensively. We’ve all got to get on the same track, going to the net and finding those goals that are hard to score.”
Eberle doesn’t feel far off from getting on the score sheet and contributing offensively.
“Right now is the most confident I’ve felt all year and you just keep generating more and more and stuff is going to come.”
When the Oilers beat the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Saturday, everything was awesome. The Oilers knocked off a good team in a hostile environment and set their sights on turning a corner and finishing a long road trip at .500.
Unfortunately, they couldn’t build off the win and dropped a disappointing 3-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday.
Last night, the Oilers beat a surging Boston Bruins team 3-2 in a shootout. The win was a quality one, but the club wants to rein in their excitement given past experience with coming off a win. This morning, the Oilers had a much different attitude than the one they had following the Pittsburgh win. Happy, but not satisfied with the results.
“That’s one of the keys we talk about, is we can’t be on a roller coaster continuously and we can’t play to the level of the opponent that we’re playing against,” said Oilers winger Matt Hendricks. “Last night was a great game for us and it was a good thing we weren’t as high as I’ve seen us in other wins. We beat Pittsburgh that night and were a pretty high team, feeling pretty good about ourselves. We learned a bit of a lesson. We came in with more of a working demeanour and were detailed in our meetings and we’re looking forward to tomorrow.”
Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan says the Oilers haven’t put themselves in a position where they can be over-confident or high on themselves after a win. The challenge is for Edmonton to tune out outside opinion and focus on building on their games.
“We know the task ahead of us on a nightly basis is very tough. We have the ability and capability to handle it,” said McLellan. “I felt the mood with the team yesterday before the game was one of, maybe not so much in the locker room but around the locker room, despair and disaster. We have to watch that we don’t let that come into the room. We are going to keep doing the things that we do, try to get better every day and the outside world is going to have their opinion. They’re certainly entitled to it, and almost 100 percent of the time it’s accurate, but we have to keep marching on and doing what we’re doing. Our physical and emotional state has to be taken care of so we’re focused on playing.”
The Oilers are on the ice at Thursday’s practice at Rexall Place. Benoit Pouliot is absent from the skate.
Hall-Draisaitl-Eberle Pakarinen-RNH-Purcell Hendricks-Letestu-Korpikoski Khaira-Lander-Gazdic Klinkhammer extra No Pouliot— Reid Wilkins (@ReidWilkins) December 3, 2015
It was a moment of déjà vu for Oil Country.
In February, during the 2014-15 season, Rexall Place saw the Oilers and Bruins settle a tie game in a shootout that lasted 12 rounds. Edmonton skated to victory that night.
Tonight, the Oilers and Bruins settled a 2-2 score in a round of shootouts. Once again, Edmonton clinched the win.
“I think we were average tonight,” said Boston Bruins Coach Claude Julien.
“Our skating game was there but we didn’t play a real hard game tonight and that’s what we needed to do. We needed to skate, we need to play hard against this team and we chose to kind of play a little bit more their type of game. We were going up and down when there were some plays being made but there were also a lot of chances that were traded off and that’s not the way we play.”
The Oilers, having returned from a five game road trip, denied the Bruins a sixth straight win.
“We definitely need to be better, I mean, we played a team that worked hard and they have obviously a lot of skill, they’re a very dangerous team and we didn’t have our best game, we need to be better,” said Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara.
“We certainly need to work much harder — winning more battles and races — and it just wasn’t good enough. We got a point out of it but I think we have to realize if we keep playing like this it’s just a matter of time where we’re going to burn ourselves.”
The Big Bad Bruins are in the barn and are looking to turn five consecutive wins into six.
With the Oilers returning from a five-game road trip with a 1-3-1 record, Boston forward Patrice Bergeron said the Bruins still need to be ready to set the pace.
“We know that sometimes you have the tired legs when you get back from a road trip like that, with the time change and everything, but I know out west they’re more used to that so I’m sure they’re going to be ready for us,” he said.
“But at the same time, for us it’s about using our speed and our legs and our energy is going to be the biggest key I think, especially early on.”
With a lot of new faces donning the black and gold jersey, Bergeron said the team chemistry off the ice and energy on it has been nothing but positive.
“I think right now everyone knows their role and is a big part of the team and the success and we need that,” said the alternate captain.
The Bruins are coming off a 4-3 win over the Rangers, Friday night.
“I think the Rangers game was a big statement game for us to play a good game, a solid game.... We have to build on that and move forward and we know that the Oilers are going to be a tough test for us as well.”
The Edmonton Oilers announced today, they have activated defenceman Justin Schultz from Injured Reserve.
Schultz, 25, has appeared in nine games with the Oilers this season, registering one assist and two penalty minutes. He also ranks second on the Oilers in time on ice, averaging 21:46 of ice time per game.
The Oilers also announced today they have assigned defenceman Griffin Reinhart to the American Hockey League’s Bakersfield Condors.
Reinhart, 21, has appeared in 12 games with the Oilers this season, registering eight penalty minutes.
The Edmonton Oilers announced today, they have recalled winger Jujhar Khaira from the American Hockey League's (AHL) Bakersfield Condors.
Khaira, 21, has appeared in 16 games with the Condors this season, posting seven points (3G, 4A) and seven penalty minutes.
The Surrey, British Columbia native has accumulated 17 points (7G, 10A) and 71 penalty minutes in 73 career AHL games.
The Oilers rolled out a new look to their forward lines on Thursday at practice in Detroit. The movement up front is an attempt to spark production after the Oilers offence has sputtered in recent games. They were shut out in Washington and managed just one power play goal against Carolina in a 4-1 loss to the Canes last night.
The Oilers broke up the top six, with Taylor Hall and Leon Draisaitl sticking together along with new right winger Jordan Eberle. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was centring Lauri Korpikoski and Teddy Purcell on the other top line with Benoit Pouliot dropping down with Mark Letestu and Matt Hendricks.
Some of the tweaks were made necessary by the injury to Nail Yakupov. However, the Pouliot-Nugent-Hopkins-Eberle line didn’t produce like Head Coach Todd McLellan would have hoped at Carolina.
“That line had a tough night,” said McLellan. “The empty-netter is an empty-netter so they were -3, they were on for every goal. Some of them had absolutely nothing to do with being scored on. They just happened to be on the ice. Others had an involvement. I didn’t think they were real strong defensively, but certainly not offensively as well. They didn’t create anything, they didn’t get to the net, they didn’t get second chances. Power-play wise, they were OK but that’s a couple nights in a row so we’ve got to fix it.”
Following a 4-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes last night, the Oilers were back to work at practice this morning. It was a lengthy practice with a lot of teaching and several battle drills.
The Oilers tweaked their forward lines and set out to work on issues in their game against the Canes. The endgame is a more competitive outing against the Red Wings here in Detroit tomorrow night.
“We went through some structure things where we broke down and then we took some of that on the ice and applied it,” said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. “Hopefully, that sets us up for a competitive game tomorrow. A competitive game doesn’t guarantee victory but it gives you a chance.”