- PRACTICE | Monday's comments
- RAW | Dallas Eakins
- RAW | Oscar Klefbom
- RAW | Andrew Ference
- RAW | Jordan Eberle
Following practice on Monday, Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins commented on the three-game suspension to Oilers defenceman and captain Andrew Ference.
"The League has terribly hard decisions to make. I know for a fact that they take in all angles, guys’ past histories," Eakins began. "They leave no stone unturned. So I’m always comfortable with the League’s opinion and decision."
Eakins added that the loss of Ference for the first three games of this trip coupled with the loss of Taylor Hall for two-to-four weeks due to an MCL sprain is a tough blow for the club.
"We’re going to miss Andrew for sure. You can say what you want about Andrew but he gives us 100 maximum effort every night," Eakins remarked.
"It’s not a little bit of a loss, it’s a lot of a loss in the leadership department and in the player department. It’s the nature of the beast. It’s a time where you look for certain players to stand up. We know we have guys who will do that. We’re interested to see if some others who have been looking for that role and added ice time can back up their words for it."
Andrew Ference talked about the absence of both himself and Hall from the lineup and how the team will be able to adapt to losing two core players.
"All teams around the League go through it, with missing guys and people coming up and playing well. We had the same thing last year with guys coming up from OKC and play tremendous for us. It’s just part of the deal for every team in the League. Whatever circumstance it is," said Ference.
Coach Eakins remarked that Nikita Nikitin will be an option for him to dress on Tuesday so that should help fill the void of Hall and Ference being unavailable. The head coach added that he hopes other players on the team will step up as well.
"It’s a team sport. We need to lean on others and need to lean on some call-ups. Some guys who had good camps and had been playing in OK City to come up and help us," he said. "We’re going to put Pouliot up in Taylor’s spot to start but we’ve got all kinds of options."
Jordan Eberle talked about some of those options.
"You have to fill that by committee. One guy can’t pick up the slack, it’s got to be all of us. I think we did pretty well (against Vancouver). We kept the pace going," Eberle began.
"We feel a lot more comfortable, for sure. When a guy goes down like that you get an opportunity to play a little bit more."
One of those players who will be given an opportunity is Benoit Pouliot, who will be slotting into the top line left wing position normally occupied by Hall.
"Speaking for my line and myself, (Pouliot) is a great player," Eberle continued. "He’s going to step into that spot nicely. He carries that speed like Taylor does and leads the forecheck like Taylor does, too. He’s going to fit in nicely there."
Ference echoed Eberle's comments on needing the players to step up.
"Taylor being out, it’s going to hurt your team. But guys making up for his ice time, they’re good players in their own right. They’re going to do a good job and they’re in this league for a reason."
“It’s a good time down there. We have a good team, good coaches. Last year was obviously a big year for me, getting to know the coaching staff down there and how to play in North America so we’re playing pretty well I think.”
Klefbom has seven points (one goal, six assists) and is +7 through seven games in Oklahoma City.
“I’ve got a lot of responsibility down there. A lot of ice time and a little bit of power play as well.”
Coach Eakins stressed that he didn't want to put too much pressure on Klefbom and hopes that the defender will not try and do too much.
“We want him to continue on his path. Oscar plays the game hard. We know we’re going to get 100 max. There’s never any sense of any drop-off and effort. He’s going to give us everything that he has and we need that on our back-end.
“We just want him to go about his game as he normally does. There’s no need for him to step outside his box.”
"How can you not put him in? He’s worked hard, he’s put his nose to the grindstone and he understands his role," Eakins stated. "He can play centre and can play wing. To just bypass someone who’s been just sitting, waiting, I think it’s terribly wrong and I think it’s terribly disrespectful."
Acton has only played two games out of 11 for the Oilers since making the team out of camp. He has no points and five penalty minutes with a -1 rating.
"We’ll give Will a chance here early and if we have to make adjustments, we will," said Eakins.
Aulie, 25, has registered one assist in eight games with the Barons this season. The Oilers also announced they have placed winger Taylor Hall on the injured reserve list.
The players are also wearing jerseys corresponding to power play units:
Unit 1: Arcobello-Pouliot-RNH-Eberle-Schultz
Unit 2: Draisaitl-Perron-Purcell-Yakupov-Nikitin
The NHL has suspended Oilers defenceman Andrew Ference three games for a hit to the head of Vancouver's Zack Kassian on Saturday.
EDM D Andrew Ference has been suspended 3 games for an illegal check to the head of VAN F Zack Kassian.— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) November 3, 2014
Edmonton Oilers captain Andrew Ference will have a hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety on Monday.
At 14:03 of the second period of the Oilers' game Saturday against the Vancouver Canucks, Ference hit Cancuks forward Zack Kassian. Ference was assessed a minor penalty for an illegal check to the head. Kassian was not injured on the play.
The following grounds are being considered for supplemental discipline: illegal check to the head, charging. However, the Department of Player Safety retains the right to make adjustments to the infraction upon review.