The countdown is on to April 6, when the Oilers host Vancouver for the team’s final game at Rexall Place. The post-game farewell ceremony will feature 100+ Oilers alumni in attendance. Each day leading up to the game, we’ll announce five Oilers alumni who are scheduled to attend. Here are today’s five.
Grant Fuhr helped the Oilers capture five Stanley Cup championships during his tenure with the orange and blue. The goaltender earned the Vezina Trophy for his 1987-88 season, in which Fuhr racked up career-best 40 wins for the Oil and a career-high four shutouts. His lengthy NHL career between the pipes brought him from Edmonton to Toronto to Buffalo to Los Angeles, St. Louis and Calgary. The Spruce Grove, AB native was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003.
Kelly Buchberger is an Oil Country icon, having played within the Oilers organization for 13 seasons — 11 as an NHL regular — from 1986-1999. Originally taken in the ninth round, 188th overall, of the 1985 NHL Draft, Buchberger went on to play 1182 NHL regular season games and 97 playoff games, mostly with the Oilers. The forward recorded 309 points in his NHL career and was a forceful checking presence on Edmonton’s championship team in 1990. He was team captain from 1995-99 and took up a coaching career with the Oilers a few years after retiring as a player, both in the AHL and as an assistant in Edmonton from 2008-2014.
Mark Lamb joined the Oilers for the 1987-88 season after being claimed on waivers and was with the club until he was claimed by the Ottawa Senators in the 1992 expansion draft. He won a Stanley Cup with the Oilers in 1990, playing an important two-way role. He was a productive player for the Oilers in that post-season, recording 17 points in 22 games. Lamb was an assistant coach for Edmonton during the 2001-02 season.
Dean McAmmond would play close to 1000 NHL games and spent a good part of six seasons with the Oilers before being traded to the Chicago Blackhawks (1999) in a seven-player trade that landed Edmonton their future captain — Ethan Moreau. McAmmond’s role with the Oilers increased during his time there, with his best season coming during the 1997-98 campaign in which he recorded 19 goals and 50 points. McAmmond also played for Chicago, Philadelphia, Calgary, Colorado, St. Louis, Ottawa, the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils.
Fernando Pisani was born in Edmonton and, fittingly enough, was drafted by the franchise in the eighth round, 195th overall, of the 1996 NHL Draft. The winger only ever played one season in the NHL for a team other than the Oilers. Pisani's legacy is his performance in the Oilers 2006 Stanley Cup Final run. Pisani posted a career-high 37 points during the regular season and led all Edmonton players in playoff scoring with a whopping 14 goals. Pisani’s NHL career lasted 462 games, in which he compiled 87 goals and 169 points.
Oilers winger Patrick Maroon was named the first star of the game in Edmonton’s 6-3 win over the Sharks in San Jose last night. He scored a goal and added two assists and five shots in an impressive effort. That was Maroon’s second career three-point night.
“I don’t really judge myself after games,” said Maroon. “Some games I’ve played terrible and I’ve played some terrible games as an Oiler, maybe a couple. Last night, I thought I felt good. I thought our line played good in all three zones. We were breaking out clean in the defensive zone and we did good offensively leading to some zone time. I thought we did a good job of that. The more time we do that, the more successful we’ll be.”
Maroon was acquired from the Anaheim Ducks at the trade deadline. The hulking winger has played 11 games for the Oilers and has nine points (3-6-9). He is consistently playing a top-six role with Edmonton and has shown a knack for going to the net and playing with skilled linemates, such as Connor McDavid and Jordan
“It’s been going good so far,” said Maroon. “The coaches and the brass have given me a chance to play in the top six. For me coming in here I have to seize the opportunity. I’ve got to play good, because this could be a spot for the taking and maybe for my future, it could be good for me. Obviously, playing with Connor and Ebs is pretty easy. They have really good skill, good speed in the neutral zone, good and clean breakouts so that really helps for me. I just try to play big and physical and go to the net and try to open space for those two.”
The Oilers didn’t have the first period against the San Jose Sharks they wanted or expected. By the end of the opening 20 minutes Thursday night, Edmonton found themselves down 2-0.
Lauri Korpikoski got the important first goal for Edmonton 1:39 into the second period, after the team received chastisement from Head Coach Todd McLellan during the intermission. Following Korpikoski’s tally, the Oilers comeback continued.
Taylor Hall scored at 8:18 of the middle frame and Adam Clendening gave the Oilers their first lead just 45 seconds later. Following a Sharks goal to tie the game at 3-3, Patrick Maroon responded for the Oilers and they never surrendered the lead again. Hall’s empty-net goal at 19:54 of the third closed out the 6-3 win.
“It was huge coming back from behind,” said Korpikoski. “We haven’t had too many of those lately. The first period is something we all learned from. We weren’t ready to go in that one, but the last 40 was a lot better.”
With San Jose trying to clinch a playoff spot with a win against the Oilers, it was impressive that Edmonton was able to not only come from behind, but beat a motivated team in their own barn.
“It says a lot. It says we’re capable of doing that, and it says basically going forward into next year, if we play like that, we can beat any team in this league. That’s a good sign,” said Maroon. “The last month of this season, it’s probably the hardest to play. It’s like playing playoff hockey. Some teams are trying to make it, some teams are trying to clinch a playoff spot so they’re playing for their spots. To come back and win shows good character in the locker room and good response, good poise and the leaders took charge.”
The playoffs are not in the team’s immediate future, but showing resiliency down the stretch is better than the alternative.
“We may not be in a playoff spot this year but it gives us confidence going into the summer that if next year we come back and play 60 minutes (every game) then we can be a playoff team,” said defenceman Jordan Oesterle.
Maybe momentum won’t carry into 2016-17, but lessons learned may and momentum can at least provide a boost heading into their showdown with Los Angeles Saturday night.
“It definitely gives us some momentum going into LA, and it definitely gives the boys a boost of confidence leaving San Jose with two points,” said Oesterle. “We came out in the first not the way we wanted and responded well in the second and third.”
The Oilers have hit the ice for practice at the SAP Center in San Jose before flying to Los Angeles this afternoon.
No Talbot either, so LB racing from one end of the ice to the other during drills. pic.twitter.com/sav4hvZgit— Jack Michaels (@EdmontonJack) March 25, 2016
Stay tuned for full coverage.
Oilers defenceman Griffin Reinhart has to be feeling pretty good about his last two games. After logging a team-high six hits and receiving praise for a physical and assertive performance against the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday, Reinhart perhaps topped that with his night Friday.
Reinhart played a career-high 23:37 and blocked a game-high eight shots on his way to being named the game’s third star in a 2-0 win over Vancouver.
“For a segment of games, this is probably the best Griffin has been all year,” said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. “We’ve talked about some of the factors or the reasons why. He’s played well.”
Reinhart has felt more comfortable in the lineup now that he’s playing regularly, and his familiarity with his defensive partner, Jordan Oesterle, has helped him settle in.
“I thought it went well,” Reinhart said of his game against the Canucks. “I thought I was playing physical. I actually didn’t know about eight blocked shots, so that’s a good thing. That’s a bonus.”
Reinhart is pleased to be getting more minutes, saying that helps him perform better as well.
“It’s easy to get in a groove,” he said. “You’ve got to get up every second or third shift and it’s easy to play. Sometimes it’s hard when you’re in penalty trouble or on the power play and you don’t get in that regular shift, so it’s something I can build off of.”
Reinhart is feeling much better as of late and his confidence is building with each performance.
“I always knew I could play like this, but it’s sometimes tough. I think the biggest part of it is knowing I’m playing every night right now. I think that’s what helps. You get into that routine and you do the same things every day and you build off of that rather than checking the board every morning to see if you’re in the lineup and breaking it up a bit.”
Reinhart agrees with the statement that this may be the most confident and comfortable he’s felt in his short career as an Oiler.
The Oilers are comfortable, as they should be, with Cam Talbot between the pipes. With every performance like Friday night’s 40-save shut out of the Vancouver, Talbot solidifies his number-one role with the Oilers that much more.
Talbot has managed a 7-2-1 record in his last starts and boasts a .948 save percentage in that stretch. As the 2015-16 season comes to an end, one must think the Oilers would be confident in placing Talbot in a 60-70-start role next season. The Oilers would be confident in his ability to handle a heavy workload but would want to make sure his 40-shot nights are limited.
“It’s not just about me and my team, it’s our team, the coaching staff and the players,” said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. “I think you could line them up tonight in order by numbers and I think every one of them will tell you they feel really good when 33 is in the net. I echo those thoughts. 60-70 games? We’ve got to make sure we keep this guy alive.
“We’ve had some good nights where we’ve had 22-23 shots against, but you put three or four 40-shot games in a row, it’s taxing on him. We also have to be aware we’re trying to develop a real young, good goaltender (Laurent Brossoit) as well.”
Talbot signed a three-year extension with the Oilers on January 17.
For two straight games now, Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan has expressed his pleasure with the play of the defensive partners Griffin Reinhart and Jordan Oesterle. McLellan has also begun experimenting with the former American Hockey League pairing, swapping Reinhart to the right side and Oesterle to the left.
“I think that pair has been pretty steady since we’ve put them together,” said McLellan, following a 2-0 win over Vancouver Friday night. “We’re experimenting with him on the right side and Jordan on the left. They both played big minutes, they penalty killed.”
Reinhart logged a career-best and team-high 23:37 TOI against Vancouver, while also contributing a game-high eight blocked shots. Oesterle played 21:23 against the Canucks and recorded an assist on Matt Hendricks’ big goal that gave Edmonton a 2-0 lead in the third.
Oilers defenceman Griffin Reinhart didn’t register a point against the Vancouver Canucks, but his defensive performance stood out. For those who just look at the stat sheet and see the zero by Reinhart’s name in the goal and assist columns, they don’t get the whole story.
“There were six (possible) points handed out, two goals and four assists,” Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan said after the 2-0 win. “Some guys play on teams and aren’t counted on for offence. Other guys play and move pucks and break up plays and that’s Griffin’s forte. Even in his best years in junior he wasn’t leading the league in scoring as a defenceman. It takes all types to have success. We’re still trying to find more pieces to the puzzle, we’re trying to develop the pieces we have here, trying to get more out of them so that we can grow and have more success. We’re not where we need to be. But Griffin, from the time we sent him down last time to this time, there has been some grown and it’s showing. That’s a good thing.”
Reinhart isn’t worried about offensive numbers when he can play a solid defensive game.
“There’s kind of a double standard in some ways, but I thought I defended well and I look at a good game in how I break up plays and execute breakout passes and get the puck out of our zone. All the stuff on top of that on the stat sheet is just a plus,” he said.
Reinhart played 23:37, finished +2 and registered eight blocked shots in the Friday night win over Vancouver.
The Oilers have hit the ice for practice at Rexall Place. Matt Hendricks, who missed last night’s game with injury, is practicing this morning.
Maroon on a line with McDavid & Eberle today at practice. Hendricks back on ice.— Jack Michaels (@EdmontonJack) March 13, 2016
Stay tuned for full updates after practice, including video interviews and blogs.
The Oilers rolled out some new forward lines at practice in Leduc. The common theme, which is a continuation of recent games, is size with skill. Zack Kassian was grouped with Connor McDavid and Taylor Hall. Leon Draisaitl and Jordan Eberle had Patrick Maroon on the wing.
“It’s important,” Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan said of blending the big with the skilled. “Those bigger bodies can hold onto to pucks and create time and space for some of the skilled players down low, but that needs to get done.”
McLellan said Maroon has done a good job of complementing skill, but the team needs to jumpstart Kassian’s game.
“I need to get back playing straight lines,” said Kassian. “I think when you play with two guys like that you need to get in on the forecheck, play physical, open up space, but at the same time play in straight lines and good things are going to happen out of that.”
On the other side of things, Hall sees his skill paired with Kassian’s size. That changes the dynamic for him too, while providing versatility to how the line can attack.
“You have to read the game,” said Hall. “You have to play hockey. You try to take advantage of everyone’s skill set. With Connor, you want to use his speed. If you can get the puck to him in open ice then that’s perfect. We can carry it in, but if you can’t then you want to lay it in and let Zack go to work, let his big body protect pucks, get in on the forecheck and get pucks back for us. That’s what happens when you play with different guys, you learn how to just play to their skill sets.”