Both players tried their best to provide a spark of energy to their team, that was in need of a boost. Eakins singled out Hendricks as the team’s best forward in the game.
“I thought Hendy was possibly our best forward,” Eakins said. “Off the top of my head, I would say that he was.”
Eakins says both Hendricks and Gazdic tried to help their peers get their engines going, but the whole team had an off night.
“Luke is always there,” the coach said. “He works extremely hard and tries to give us momentum with his hits and his physical play. We were hoping that would get us going but it was interesting… It wasn’t even split. It wasn’t like we had guys who struggled the whole game and guys who played well. It would be, a certain player would go out and give us three really good shifts and then he’d come back and give us four bad ones. We just couldn’t get anything rolling as 18 skaters. We could get it rolling with six and then the other 12 would fall off. I just thought it was an ugly hockey game for both teams.”
The Oilers had four power play opportunities against Minnesota but failed to convert on those chances. Winger David Perron talked about the special teams play and what seemed to be missing for the team in their first game back, following the Olympic break.
“Well, we just don’t bear down,” Perron said. “There was a couple of pucks bouncing and we tried to use our sticks to keep it in. Use your body. It’s that much more thing it can hit to keep it in. Going back for breakouts, you’ve got to skate 200 feet one way, 200 feet back and once you do that once or twice, you don’t have as much energy to battle down there and get the pucks. Now it’s down the ice. The second unit goes and it’s the same deal over again.”
The Oilers rank 22nd in the league in power play percentage, converting 16.6% of their man-advantage opportunities. They worked on the power play some during their Olympic break mini-camp, but there is still some fine tuning left in break outs and the overall handling of the puck.
However, Head Coach Dallas Eakins said the rest of the installations to system play took hold well, particularly defensively as the team limited Minnesota’s shot count.
“I wish we would have handled the puck better, mostly, and executed better,” Eakins said. “But the stuff that we worked on this week, the adjustments to our system stuff, I was actually quite happy with it. We only gave up 21 shots in the game, which is encouraging and I thought our guys did a good job of implementing the new part of the system… But tomorrow we’ve got to break out pucks and handle the puck and transition the puck. These guys, we’ve got to ramp up the number of touches in practice and maybe not worry so much about the system stuff tomorrow.”
Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins tweeted that Ben Scrivens will get the start in goal tonight against the Minnesota Wild. He also noted that Anton Belov will be playing, fresh off his performance with Team Russia at the Olympics.
Scrivens starts. Belov will play. Time for both teams to shake the rust off.— Dallas Eakins (@dallaseakins) February 27, 2014
- PRACTICE RAW | Dallas Eakins
- PRACTICE RAW | Matt Hendricks
- PRACTICE RAW | Justin Schultz
- COMING SOON: PRACTICE UPDATE
The topic du jour of the Edmonton Oilers amongst the media seems to be the goaltending situation. The coach and general manager have fielded several questions of the futures of Ben Scrivens and Ilya Bryzgalov, as both are unrestricted free agents at the end of the season.
Head Coach Dallas Eakins spoke briefly of how the team plans to split the reps between their two goaltenders for the remaining 22 games. The answer is, there isn’t one yet. However, Eakins did admit the team may lean more towards the younger Scrivens if he earns more starts with his play.
“It’s hard to say,” Eakins said. “I don’t have a crystal ball next to me. It’ll depend on their play. It may come down to if Ben plays well and Bryz is playing well, yeah we may give Ben a couple of extra starts. I think Bryz would understand that. Or, we might split it down the middle.I won’t know until we get started here.”
Eakins said although they may be inclined to look more at Scrivens over the next 22 games, Bryzgalov has a lot to play for and prove as well. Both goalies will be using their starts as an audition for this team or others. The competition could be beneficial to the Oilers.
“Yeah, and I think it’s important for Bryz to keep fighting along too. It’s on them both and that’s not going to change. Bryz has been a number one in the past. I think he has still got the potential to do that. I know Ben’s numbers line up and he is a confident kid and he wants to show the national hockey league that he’s ready to be a number one and I know that’s what he’s going to try to do. For me, it’s a great situation. You’ve got two goalies who are going to be looking for contracts. I believe they both like the situation and the opportunity that’s here and you want that competition. It’s no different than two defencemen having friendly competition or your number one and your number two centres having a friendly competition. You want them to push each other and that’s how your teams get better.”
The Oilers are on the Wednesday and the lineup appears unchanged from their previous practic.
The forward lines are as follows, based on jersey colour:
Oilers Director of Coaching Development and Special Projects Billy Moores is being inducted into the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame as a member of the class of 2014.
"This is a special time of year for the AHHF Selection Committee – we have the opportunity to look over and remember the significant contributions to our sport in Alberta, Canada and beyond," Scott Robinson, executive director of the Hockey Alberta Foundation, said on the organization’s website. "It's our honour to recognize these inductees. Their legacies and accomplishments can now take their place Alberta's hockey history."
Moores was chosen by the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee to enter as part of the Achievement Category.
Moores played for the Edmonton Oil Kings in the 1960s and went on to be a successful assistant and head coach at the University of Alberta, for the Golden Bears.
This year’s inductees will be formally recognized at the Hockey Alberta Awards Gala ceremony on Friday June 6, at the Westin Hotel in Edmonton.
Edmonton Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish spoke to the media today, addressing the impending NHL trade deadline among other topics. Defenceman Justin Schultz’s name came up as he will be a restricted free agent at season’s end.
The plan for Schultz is to look to extend him a serious offer after the deadline concludes.
“I think, with Justin, it will be after the deadline,” MacTavish said. “I’ve had some preliminary conversations with his representation and after the deadline, I think we’ll get down to more serious discussions with Justin.”
As for whether or not MacTavish puts Schultz into the same category as Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, in terms of contract perimeters and talent, the GM said he’s of the same skill level potentially.
“It all depends on the number on the year-to-year part of the contract. If you’re asking me, do I consider Justin Schultz in that skill level, potentially? I do. I think he’s a terrific talent. I think he’s developing and has taken significant steps this year, maybe in the last six weeks, in terms of really establishing himself as a guy that’s got a very high upside.”
The state of the Oilers this season has had more negatives than positives when it comes to their place in the standings. However, General Manager Craig MacTavish says that lately there have been positive signs for the future of the organization.
“I will say that, as unfortunate as the circumstances that we find ourselves in, I’m optimistic about what I’m seeing and where the culture of the organization is right now, the direction of the organization and the response from the players,” MacTavish said. “I’m generally happy with the overall output of effort from our group and I think there’s… I know there are better times ahead. It’s a shallow sentence at this point right now but the line from the bottom to top is seldom a straight line. We’ve taken some hits this year but I’m pretty happy with where we are right now in the last three or four weeks. There’s been good structural improvement, I think there’s been some good individual growth, we’ve added some competitive players and I think we said and set out to do that at the start of the year and it’s not something that turns over quickly. But I think, when I analyze where we’re at now from where we were at the start of the year, I see some decent signs.”
The Oilers have won five of their last seven games and the three losses before that stretch were decided by one goal each.