Oilers prospect Anton Slepyshev picked up three assists to help lead his Russian squad to a 5-3 win over USA in the quarterfinals on Thursday at the World Junior Hockey Championships.
Slepyshev assisted on the opening goal for the Russians by Grigorenko. Then in the second period, with Russia down 3-2, he assisted on a pair of goals by Nikita Zadorov while on the power play. The goals were 1:01 apart.
Bogdan Yakimov was -1 on the day with no points.
Through five games, Slepyshev is tied for his team lead with seven points (2 goals, 5 assists). He also leads the team with a +7 rating and is third with 13 shots on goal.
On a day when the U.S. Olympic team was announced, Taylor Hall was asked about what he thought about his chances of making the Canadian squad which will be announced next week. He did not feel like he would be named.
|Taylor Hall is interviewed at the Canadian Olympic Selection Camp
"I think I've been playing well lately for sure but there's a lot of really good players on that team," said Hall when asked about his chances. "You always look to reasons why you want to play well and just like we talked about last night, it's your job to go out and produce every night. Certainly, reasons like that definitely give you hope and you want to play well for that. We just want to win games and go from there."
Coach Eakins felt that Hall deserved to merit consideration.
"I don't pay a whole lot of attention to the process but I'm sure if you go compare him to the left wingers that he's up against, I'm not sure how you don't take him."
Building on his words from about a week ago, Eakins felt that Hall has improved on both sides of the game and perhaps even more so defensively.
"If you were to go defensively on a most improved player this year -- and we've had some guys improve -- I'd put Taylor right at the top of the list. The way he competes every night has been a breath of fresh air on a lot of difficult nights. Last night I thought we saw it again where after a real tough first period for our team, he put us on his shoulders and started to carry. And he rubs off on guys. You can see it in Nuge's game and Ebs and Perron. And we want that to continue."
Last game, Hall was a +2 with three assists as his line controlled the play whenever they were on the ice.
"It was a game where Perron, myself and Nuge seemed to connect pretty well on a few opportunities. We started off by playing a simple game and then it extrapolated from there. When we're playing well, we're playing a hard, heavy game, getting in on the forecheck and making plays when we have the puck and not forcing things. That was the case last night."
Hall has 15 goals and 38 points in 35 games this season. That puts him in a tie for 16th in the NHL in points and 23rd in goals. He is tied for 11th in points among Canadians and third among Canadian left wingers (his linemate David Perron is fourth according to NHL.com, though he plays right wing on the Oilers).
"I feel pretty good with my game. My game seems to go in hills and valleys sometimes. You've just got to ride the momentum and keep doing the things you need to do to be successful and right now that's playing a simple game, a good defensive game with my linemates and trying to produce with them."
|Photo by Jeff Nash / Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club
Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins said that this was the next step in the plan that he and Nail were talking about in their 40-minute discussion on Monday.
"Just adhering to the plan," Eakins said about Nail Yakupov. "Not trying to do things by himself, not trying to adlib, not trying to play like he did last year. We want him to play the system and the way we're trying to get our whole group to play. And that's his challenge. He fully understands it. And he fully understands that there's a little bit of heat on him to play and play well. He's with two good players, two experienced players, he's going to get some looks on one of our power plays where we've put him right back to where he's been before."
It appears that Yakupov's minutes will increase and from what Eakins saw at practice, he was doing well on the power play in his usual spot.
"By this morning's practice, he was having some success over there. But the important thing is to get him up and going and get him back into the rhythm of playing a little bit more minutes."
Oilers goaltender Ilya Brzygalov had another performance versus a former team where he made a large number of saves and got his side into overtime but the Edmonton squad was unable to come away with two points.
"We were so close to the win again in this game. But it slipped away from us," said Brzygalov after practice in San Jose on Wednesday. He added that he feels, and has always felt, that he could improve with his play.
|Ilya Bryzgalov faces a shootout attempt last Saturday (photo by Marko Ditkun / EOHC)
"You always have room to grow and work. You never stop, you always have to ask the question how can I be better and what can I do to make myself better?
"You should always think you can do better."
After the tying goal went in with 1:10 left, Brzygalov showed some frustration on the ice. It was similar to the game against the Flyers where he threw his stick in the air after Philly tied it late.
"It was a home game against Philly where he tossed his stick and I asked him what his frustration was, and his frustration was that he had let in a goal that he thought he should have had. He wanted to beat his old team and he was frustrated with himself," Eakins began.
The bench boss was asked about the outward emotion and he had an interesting take on the situation.
"I don't mind showing emotion. I think it's great probably once or twice a year in an 82-game schedule where the goalie smashes his stick over the crossbar in great frustration. I'm fairly certain that Bryz was probably more frustrated with the situation. But you're right, you have to watch your body language on the ice. And it's not so much about your team, body language to me is 'what are you selling? What are you telling everyone?' as soon as your body language goes south, if it's a consistent thing, you're certainly selling something to the other team."
"We're going to get them back in the mix. I think we're going to give them another day of conditioning and that's the challenge when you've got so many extra forwards. I think they're both ready to play. We're going to stick with that group that you saw out there today."
Arcobello has been out for six games and Jones has been out for five. It remains a strong possibility that both could return to the lineup on Friday against Anaheim.
The lines, according to jersey colour, are:
Hall - RNH - Perron (dark blue)
Yakupov - Gagner - Eberle (light blue)
Smyth - Gordon - Hemsky (white)
Gazdic - Lander - Joensuu (black)
Arcobello - Jones (grey/extras)
Roman Horak is not skating as he was just assigned to the AHL's Oklahoma City Barons.
It's the old dress and drive for Edmonton. Dressed at HP Pavilion and then bus to practice rink.Happy New Year to all pic.twitter.com/AynUmt1I2T— Gene Principe (@GenePrincipe) January 1, 2014
Oilers just walked into SJ Sharks practice facility. Based on colours: 4-93-57, 64-89-14, 94-27-83, 20-51-6— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) January 1, 2014
The Oilers have assigned Roman Horak to the Oklahoma City Barons of the AHL. Horak played in one game, last night in Phoenix. He was minus one with a shot in goal in 12:58 of icetime.
In between the first and second period, Dallas Eakins spoke with his team. The squad was lucky to come out of the period tied after having been outshot 21-6.
“After the first, I went in and had a one sided conversation with them, and the simple message was this, I don’t want you to work hard, this isn’t work, your parents go to work, the people that get up and drive in rush hour traffic and spend 10, 12 hours at their job, that’s work… This is play, and I want you to play hard, and there were some other messages in there as well but, I thought once we came back out for the second (period) we were much better.”
Taylor Hall also felt that the team turned it around but was unhappy with how the team finished the game.
“The first period wasn’t great at all but we managed to find our game and get a 3-1 lead and even though it was 3-2 for the last little while we played them pretty well. I thought it was just a breakdown on the last goal, I mean Bryz (Bryzgalov) played so well for us tonight and for us to kind of let him down like that, it isn’t great, so we need to rebound next game and make sure that when a goalie plays like that for us he ends up getting the win.”
Taylor Hall's line was outstanding on Tuesday, with Hall picking up three assists. The Oilers winger talked about how his line was able to control play in the offensive zone.
“Nuge (Nugent-Hopkins) is very underrated at playing in the D-zone. We don’t spend a whole lot of time there, it makes it easy for us when he’s playing like, I mean it’s all for nothing tonight, we would have liked to get a “dub” (win)… Like I said, Bryz (Bryzgalov) played so well. There were a lot of good things after that first 10-12 minutes that we did tonight and we didn’t reward ourselves for it.”