Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov was the first Oilers netminder off the ice at morning skate today and will get the start tonight against the Blues.
Bryzgalov has made five starts for the Oilers so far this season but this will be the first one at Rexall Place. In his six appearances, he has a shutout, 2.30 goals-against average and .936 save percentage. He has a record of 1-3-0.
Bryz first off the ice, starts tonight vs. St. Louis.— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) December 21, 2013
Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins showed some frustration out on the ice during morning skate today. While explaining a drill, he got flustered and end up throwing his sharpie as a result.
It was no big deal, said Eakins.
"It's one of those things. The morning skate for me, a lot of times I don't think it has a lot to do with the game at night but the problem is we didn't practice yesterday so we had to do a little work this morning.
"The listening skills weren't there so I had to raise my voice and get them in check. It's part of the day, sometimes. It was no big deal."
The Oilers have struggled lately on the power play with only one power play goal in their last 19 attempts, and no power play goals in their last five games (all losses).
Making things worse, during the 1-for-19 stretch, the team has given up three shorthanded goals and in all, the Oilers have allowed a league-high eight shorthanded markers.
"You look at the good power plays and they are very simple. There's a net front presence and you're going to attack the net whether you're driving the net or the puck's coming to the net.
"The problem for skilled guys is when they are struggling they tend to go the other way. Instead of simplifying they try to go through guys."
Because of the struggles, Eakins said that he was going to try some different looks on his second power play unit.
"Our one unit will look a lot the same as it has. We are going to simplify them. And the next unit is going to be very simplified. Playing on the power play is a privilege. I don't care if you're in PeeWee or the NHL, it's a privilege to go out on it.
"You get your five-on-five game in check then you'll earn your privilege on the power play. The second unit will look much different than it has before."
During morning skate, Ryan Jones fell to the ice after being knocked unconscious due to a collision with Andrew Ference in front of the net. He had to be attended to by the trainers and then helped to the dressing room.
Shortly after the injury, Coach Eakins headed off the ice to check on the forward.
"I didn't say much, I just went in to make sure he was still breathing," said Eakins. "He got hit in the perfect spot and he was out cold on the ice."
Despite the optics, which looked bad, Eakins said that Jones will be okay.
"He's fine. When you've been knocked out cold -- and I've had that myself -- the worst thing you need is a bunch of people talking to you."
Ryan Jones has been hurt at Oiler practice. Trainers attending to him now.— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) December 21, 2013
The Oilers are on the ice for morning skate prior to their game against the St. Louis Blues tonight.
Mark Arcobello and Philip Larsen are not participating.
Oil lineup. Hall-RNH-Eberle, Smyth-Gordon-Perron, Gazdic-Gagner-Yak, Joensuu-Lander-Hemsky. Ference-J Schultz, Belov-Petry, N Schultz-Potter— Jack Michaels (@EdmontonJack) December 21, 2013
Taylor Hall was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to close out the first period. After Gagner's five minute major and game misconduct, the Hall penalty put the Oilers down two men at the start of the second.
The Avalanche capitalized on the 5-on-3 advantage.
Head Coach Dallas Eakins addressed the penalties and his response after the game.
"The Gagner penalty was a penalty," said Eakins. "I thought it was by accident. When his stick came up, I thought you could see it immediately that when the guy went down Gags was concerned. When you mean to do it, you skate away with a smirk on your face.
"All I was looking for from the official was the explanation. He went over to the box, signalled two minutes with his finger, did the cross-check, put Sam in the box and suddenly everything changed after the jumbotron showed it."
Coach Eakins added Hall was not the player who said something to the referee at the end of the period.
"I came out at the start of the (second) period after a cooling-down period, as we're supposed to do as coaches, and was basically told by the ref to… well, I can't say what he said to me. Just looking for simple explanations, but couldn't get them."
The Oilers have acquired a conditional 6th round draft selection in the 2014 NHL Draft.
Omark has played in 29 games for the Oklahoma City Barons in the American Hockey League this season, scoring 14 goals and adding 15 assists to lead that team in scoring.
Omark was originally a fourth round pick of the Oilers in the 2007 NHL Draft.
After getting downed 8-2 by the Oilers on December 5, in Edmonton, it is fully expected that the Avalanche will come out with a little extra motivation to exact revenge tomorrow night.
"Absoultely, like Columbus," said David Perron. "We beat them 7-0 and they beat us the next game… It wasn't much of a game there. We need to be ready from the start. It's not going to be goals every night against this team, that's for sure. Their coaching staff over there, I know them a little bit, I know a few players over there and they weren't happy after the last game. They'll come out hard."
Colorado will be looking to defend their arena in front of their home crowd.
"Anytime a team beats you like we did to them, you want to come back with a good response," said Jordan Eberle. "Especially, in your own building. We expect a different game for sure. From us, we've lost… four in a row now. We've got to get back on track."
The last time the Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Avalanche played, two tough guys duked it out in a good tilt. Edmonton's Luke Gazdic and Colorado's Patrick Bordeleau squared off after the Avs player made a hit that Gazdic disagreed with.
This is not the first time these two titans battled on the ice.
"I've been fighting him since I was young," said Gazdic. "I was 20 when I started. He was usually getting the best of me."
After that fight on December 5, Gazdic was the clear winner. Head Coach Dallas Eakins said that after watching Bordeleau play in the American Hockey League, he had never seen him lose a fight until that night.
"He was feeding me pretty good and I just came out with a cross from the right and it just got him pretty flush," said Gazdic. "Then, I just tried to take over from there. That's what happens. Sometimes you land, I don't want to say it was a lucky punch because I was trying to do it, but every once in a while you land one flush and that's what happened."
When asked if he expected Bordeleau to request a rematch, Gazdic didn't know if or when it would happen.
"Some guys like to get a little retribution."
The Oilers felt the change in altitude immediately after stepping out onto the Denver ground after landing today. When they got on the ice for practice, they felt it even more. It is something all visiting NHL teams have to deal with when they come to town to take on the Colorado Avalanche.
"You definitely feel it," said Oilers winger David Perron. "Just today, we were out there for half an hour maybe or 45 minutes and when you go hard, you definitely feel it. I think they say it would take two weeks to fully get used to it and almost fully a week after to recover. But, it is what it is. We're not the only NHL team that goes through this. We'll be fine."
Some players didn't think the change in altitude would be any factor, until they experienced it for the first time.
"It's actually different," said Jordan Eberle. "I never really thought much of it when I was a younger guy, but you can definitely feel the difference when you come here. It's a good thing to get on the ice here a day early and get adjusted to it because it is for sure an adjustment. Once you get into the flow of the game, you don't really notice it."
The Oilers fully expect to be acclimated after warmups tomorrow night.