The Edmonton Oilers have struggled on the power play, particularly on the road where they are converting only 10.3% of their opportunities. Justin Schultz ended both a personal and a team drought on Sunday with his power play goal at 9:01 of the third period against Carolina.
“Our power play has been struggling,” Schultz said. “It wasn’t that good in that game, at the beginning of the game either. We still have some work to do but hopefully that goal will get us going a little bit.”
Schultz became the first defenceman to score on the power play for the Oilers this season and scored his first goal since February 3.
“It was really nice,” Schultz said. “I haven’t scored for a while and to get one, a big one like that, sure gives me confidence.”
Schultz says it’s the finer details on the power play that need to be shored up and it’s those that have contributed to the defencemen not putting the puck in the back of the net.
“Not getting set ups, not shooting, it’s a bit of everything. It’s funny, I was talking to the guys saying I haven’t scored a power play goal this year and I was lucky enough to get one. Hopefully that starts changing.”
"That doesn’t show up on the stat sheet, other than Nail got himself a two minute penalty. We’ve got Hendy in there, actually quite handling himself quite nicely against two guys and then Nail’s the first one in. Then the rest of the guys are in," Eakins began.
"At the start of the year we had scrum where there were two guys in there pushing and shoving and there was nobody else coming. That’s what I’m talking about, this team coming together. They care about each other. They’re working hard with each other on the ice. The guys are in. That’s a huge thing for me for Yak and I’m proud that he was the first one in there."
Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins was asked after the game about what Matt Hendricks has added to the team with his play since joining the squad in mid-January.
“Hendy’s quietly become the heart beat of our team. He’s come in and led very well and as everybody can see, he lays it on the line every night. This guy is not afraid to sacrifice his body. He is 100% a team player and he’s rubbing off on our group,” Eakins began.
The head coach added that having what Hendricks has contributed to the squad on a nightly basis has been huge for the team’s recent resurgence.
“You can look at all the stats you want, but you have to have players like that on your team. They’re quietly off the stat sheets but they’re very loud in the game. They do a lot of the dirty work but a lot of their dirty work helps the team, inspires the team and it rubs off on the team. And that’s critical to us taking the next step.”
Hendricks talked about the team’s 2-1-1 road trip.
“I think it was a good road trip. We battled back in Minnesota to get two points there. We played 40 good minutes of hockey against a very good St. Louis team and then against Detroit we played the type of road hockey we have to play to win in this league. If you take out the 20 minutes in St. Louis it was a great trip. It shows we’re still trying to complete our game and be a more well-rounded group.”
Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins spoke to the media several hours before puck drop on Sunday in Raleigh, North Carolina. Eakins said that Sam Gagner will likely play today but he won't 100% commit to it until the Edmonton centre takes pre-game warm-up.
Gagner is encouraged how he feels today. He's going to try in warm up and see how it feels," said Eakins.
If Gagner plays, the question then goes to who sits. Eakins said that Mark Fraser is also healthy and ready to go.
"Fraser is going to play for sure," he said, adding that the odd man out will be Philip Larsen.
Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins tweeted some lineup changes on Saturday for Sunday's 1:00 p.m. MDT clash with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Eakins will address the media at 11:00 a.m. MDT on Sunday to talk about any further changes and other topics.
Early start tomorrow. Joensuu is out due to injury. Back to Scrivens.— Dallas Eakins (@dallaseakins) March 16, 2014
Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins spoke to the media briefly at about 5:30 Detroit time.
Viktor Fasth will get the start in goal.
Two hours before puck drop, Dallas Eakins spoke to the media about what lineup changes that could be expected tonight.
Sam Gagner is out as the ankle injury which he suffered in Minnesota has continued to linger.
"Gags was hurt (Thursday in St. Louis) but sucking it up. We need to build that into our culture here. But it's not good for him to play tonight," said Eakins.
In his place, Anton Lander will get what is really his first opportunity with the Oilers to play in an offensive role. He will play on what has been the team's top and best line of late, with Taylor Hall and David Perron.
"We'll see what he can do in this situation here," Eakins continued. "The Gagner line was really finding some swagger and mojo. Hall and Perron were playing well together."
The head coach was asked if he considered the possibility of reuniting the line of Hall-RNH and Eberle.
"RNH, Eberle and Yak need to find their swagger. We can't send Hall in to rescue everyone," he answered.
Centre Anton Lander remains with the team on emergency recall, meaning that Sam Gagner is questionable to play tonight. Lander spoke with Oilers play-by-play man Jack Michaels this morning about playing the waiting game as he tries to find an opportunity to get in the lineup.
“It’s nothing I can control. It’s up to the coach and organization. I can just do my best and do whatever they say I’m going to do,” said Lander.
Lander has found an offensive touch this season in Oklahoma City, with 18 goals and 48 points in 43 games to lead the team.
“I think I’ve played with more confidence and played with great players too. That’s helped a lot. I’m also playing in different situations, power play and PK,” he began. “I think it was more after I got sent down from training camp. I had a meeting with Dallas and Mac and what they wanted me to work on, why I got sent down. And that’s something I’ve thought about and tried to bring energy to games and work on in practice.”
Lander also talked about trying to translate that success he has found in Oklahoma City to the big club, should he get a chance to play.
“I think you’ve got to go out and have fun, play your own game and play the system but use your linemates. Move the puck quick. Everyone is skilled on this team so whoever you play with, give them the puck and they’re going to create something good with it.”
“Maybe it’s a different opportunity. I’m really excited if that will be the case tonight.”