It was a much better game for the line of Benoit Pouliot, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins but Oilers head coach Todd McLellan said that he's feeling some frustration with the fact that some games certain lines are flying and other games it's other lines.
“We don’t have the rhythm or chemistry in our team right now that we need,” said McLellan. “We find one line and lose a line or find a pair and lose a pair (of defencemen). We have to get home now and get some rest and try to find all 20 players going at the same time. We’re not deep enough or strong enough to just get through with a line and a half or two lines going.”
McLellan this morning called out Pouliot saying that he has to play better and certainly Pouliot responded with an excellent game, including a pair of goals.
“I had a talk with Benny. It wasn’t a screaming match or anything, I just told him what I thought of him as a player and tried to get to him a little bit. I thought he had a much better game tonight. That line played well. It was easily our best line. He found a way to produce, which is a good thing for him and us.”
The head coach also changed up the power play units in an effort to try and shake things up offensively.
“Tonight we went with some new units and tried to mix things up. We didn’t get many opportunities but the shorthanded goal didn’t help our cause at all,” he said.
Edmonton only has one power play goal in its last seven games which has included 17 opportunities (5.8%). They've allowed two shorthanded goals in that time. McLellan said that the recall of Hunt was to try and help spark a struggling power play but due to delays, Hunt did not make it to Calgary from Bakersfield in time for the game.
“We were expecting Brad to come in. Obviously not being able to arrive changed things,” McLellan said. “He’s going to meet the team in Edmonton tomorrow. He’ll practice with us. I think he has the ability to help our power play from the back-end. It’s an area that we’re really struggling in right now.”
Extras: Khaira, Klinkhammer
Defence pairings were jumbled but these were the combinations most often used:
Ryan Miller, who left the Canucks game on December 20 in Florida during the shootout, will not play tonight. Vancouver head coach Willie Desjardins stated that he will be out longer than he thought, estimating a week.
Chris Tanev is also out after not skating this morning. Chris Higgins skated this morning, as did Brandon Sutter (before the team), but neither will play tonight.
No Ryan Miller on the ice for the Canucks, meaning Markstrom will start vs Oilers.— Jack Michaels (@EdmontonJack) December 26, 2015
Jacob Markstrom gets the start in goal for Vancouver.
Ryan Hamilton was re-assigned to Bakersfield following tonight's game. He did not suit up for the Oilers tonight against Buffalo.
Hamilton, 30, has appeared in 18 games with the Condors this season, posting eight points (6G, 2A) and eight penalty minutes.
The Oilers have assigned goaltender Eetu Laurikainen from the AHL's Bakersfield Condors to HPK of the Finnish Elite League.
In his one start with the Condors, Laurikainen allowed four goals on 22 shots in a 4-3 loss to San Jose.
On Friday, the NHL announced the coaching staff for Team North America:
The National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) and the National Hockey League (NHL®) announced today the appointment of Team North America’s Assistant Coaches: Jay Woodcroft (Edmonton Oilers), Jon Cooper (Tampa Bay Lightning), Peter DeBoer (San Jose Sharks) and Dave Tippett (Arizona Coyotes). The four assistant coaches will report to Team North America General Manager Peter Chiarelli (Edmonton Oilers), Associate General Manager Stan Bowman (Chicago Blackhawks) and Head Coach Todd McLellan (Edmonton Oilers).
Oilers head coach Todd McLellan was asked about the decision to include assistant coach Jay Woodcroft on his staff.
“Woody and I have been together for a long, long time. I have a comfort in having Jay around for a lot of reasons. One, he keeps me organized. He’s a workaholic, gets a lot of work done. He understands my language and where I might be going with my thoughts and how to put things together. Technically, he can gather a lot of information. I think he’s as sharp a coach as there is out there right now,” McLellan began.
“He doesn’t quite get the recognition because of his path to the NHL but we’re very lucky to have him, not only with that World Cup team but also here in Edmonton.”
The head man for the Oilers also talked about the rest of the staff, which includes some accomplished head coaches from around the NHL.
|Photo by Getty Images.|
“A lot of experience. International experience. Coaches who have been around young players for awhile. I look at Tip (Dave Tippett) last night with (Anthony) Duclair, (Max) Domi, growing (Oliver) Ekman-Larsson. Jon Cooper in Tampa. Peter DeBoer in San Jose, he’s worked with young players in the past in Florida and New Jersey. San Jose is a bit of an older team now.
“The comfort of working with those people that I’ve been involved with in the past. We’re excited about it. There’s some teams there that have to win and our job is to go in and upset and stir the pot a little bit, see where we end up.”
Woodcroft talked about the honour of being named to the coaching staff at the tournament.
“It’s going to be a great learning experience for me, great experience for my family in my hometown of Toronto. Huge honour to have been asked to join such a prestigious coaching staff. I’m really looking forward to working with all the coaches and all the management,” he said.
The 39-year-old has worked with McLellan since 2005 when he was the video coach and McLellan the assistant for the Detroit Red Wings. McLellan then added Woodcroft to his staff as an assistant when he became head coach of the San Jose Sharks in 2008.
“I think we both have strengths. Having worked together for so long, there’s a chemistry with how we approach preparation. I think we see the game very similarly but we’re not afraid to challenge each other with new ideas.”
Woodcroft and McLellan also worked together last spring at the World Hockey Championships, helping lead Canada to a Gold Medal and undefeated record at the tournament.
“Having worked together in the past, not only in the NHL — Detroit, San Jose and now Edmonton — but internationally, there’s a comfort level with preparing a group to succeed.”
The Oilers assistant talked further about how that World Championships experience helped prepare him for the challenge that awaits next fall.
“It helped me because it was my first time on an international level. So the ability to work with players from different teams and quickly get your point across, quickly get everybody on the same page was a huge challenge. And I think Todd did a masterful job of bringing the entire group together: the coaching staff, the management group and also the players. And that’s why we ultimately had success.”
Lines for tonight appear to be:
Hall - Draisaitl - Purcell
Pouliot - Lander - Eberle
Hendricks - Letestu - Yakupov
Gazdic - Miller - Pakarinen
Nurse - Sekera
Klefbom - Fayne
Reinhart - Gryba
- BLOG: Friday practice updates
- BLOG: Oilers injury and illness updates
- BLOG: Slepyshev re-assigned to Bakersfield
- BLOG: McLellan and Woodcroft talk World Cup
- THE PANEL | Presented by Sport Chek
- PRACTICE | Friday in LA
- INJURY UPDATE | Matt Hendricks
- PRACTICE RAW | Jay Woodcroft
- PRACTICE RAW | Todd McLellan
Oilers head coach Todd McLellan was asked to give an update on some of the injuries and illnesses that have been plaguing the team on this road trip.
“He and Ference is the other one who’s been sick enough that they haven’t played,” said Oilers head coach Todd McLellan of Benoit Pouliot. “They’re both skating today. I talked to them about how they feel and they’re getting close to normal again.”
The bench boss added that it's not simply a matter of just getting healthy again when a player gets hit with the flu.
“You have to rehydrate, you have to get the food back in the body and make sure you feel good. We think they’ll be ready but we won’t know until tomorrow.”
McLellan also gave an update on Matt Hendricks, who's missed the last three games with an injury.
“Matty’s not a flu issue, it’s an injury. He’s had some good skates now. Based on body language and facial expressions, he looked like he was happy to be out there and that’s always a good sign heading into tomorrow.”
Hendricks talked about wanting to get back on the ice to help the team as soon as possible.
“It’s frustrating,” said Hendricks. “I want to be out there helping the team any way I can but unfortunately the ailment kept jumping up at me and biting at me. The swelling, I couldn’t get it out of there. You lose the stability and it’s pretty weak.”
When asked whether he might play tomorrow, Hendricks was hopeful.
“I’m hoping. I’m pushing for tomorrow so I’m sure it’ll be a game-time decision or however we want to phrase it. But I’m going to prepare like I’m going to play tomorrow.”
The Oilers are on the ice for practice at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, California (near the Los Angeles International Airport).
Stay tuned for further updates.