With a goal against Chicago on Sunday in his second game back, Jordan Eberle is getting back in the swing of things when it comes to being a contributor in the Oilers lineup. It was the first time that Eberle has started a season on the injured list.
“I knew it was going to be tough. I didn’t think it was going to be that tough,” Eberle chuckled. “Coming in against Pittsburgh, they’re a fast team. Ideally that was not where I wanted to start. I remember that first period, my neck was sore my head was on a swivel so much. The puck was moving so quick.”
Eberle scored a power play goal early in the third period to get Edmonton on the board against the 'Hawks.
“I thought I settled into that game a little better and then last game in Chicago I started to really feel good and get confident with the puck. Obviously, putting the puck in the net helps to get some confidence. I still have room to grow but I like where it’s going.”
Oilers head coach Todd McLellan also talked about the speed of the game in reference to Eberle.
“I think it’s a combination of everything. The game is going fast right now. When you haven’t been able to start at the starting line with everybody else, that affects you a lot. Ebs has poise, he has maturity, he’s experienced but nothing makes up for that pace.
“We talk a lot about his skillset. It’s cerebral, it’s quick hands, it’s making tight little plays. When the game is going fast that’s a hard thing to do when you’re not used to it.”
Oilers lines are:
Hall - Draisaitl - Nugent-Hopkins
Pouliot - Letestu - Yakupov
Purcell - Lander - Eberle
Gazdic - Miller - Pakarinen
UPDATE: Nail Yakupov left the ice about 25 minutes into practice but returned five minutes later.
Lines: Hall-Draisaitl-RNH, Pouliot-Letestu-Yak, Purcell-Lander-Eberle, Gazdic-Miller-Pakarinen. Hendricks left ice before battle drills.— Jack Michaels (@EdmontonJack) November 10, 2015
Oilers winger Matt Hendricks will not play tonight. He is not taking warm-ups.
No sign of Hendricks in warmup. Hunch Oilers will go with 7 D, as Davidson is taking warmup.— Jack Michaels (@EdmontonJack) November 9, 2015
Line combinations for the Oilers look to be the same as last game:
Hall - Draisaitl - Eberle
Pouliot - RNH - Yakupov
Hendricks - Letestu - Purcell
Lander - Miller - Pakarinen
On defence, Mark Fayne and Brandon Davidson have switched spots.
Klefbom - Fayne
Nurse - Sekera
Reinhart - Gryba
Ference - Davidson
On the other side, Marian Hossa is expected to return to the lineup tonight for the Blackhawks after missing the team's last three games.
The Oilers are on the ice for morning skate at Rexall Place and these are the lines they're going with at the moment:
V PIT: Hall-Draisaitl-Eberle, Pouliot-RNH-Yak, Hendricks-Letestu-Purcell, Lander-Miller-Pak. Sekera-Nurse, Klefbom-Davidson, Reinhart-Gryba.— Jack Michaels (@EdmontonJack) November 6, 2015
Hall - RNH - Draisaitl
Pouliot - McDavid - Yakupov
Korpikoski - Pakarinen - Purcell
Gazdic - Lander - Letestu
Nurse - Sekera
Klefbom - Davidson
Ference - Gryba
Extras: Reinhart, Fayne
Looks like pairings will be Nurse-Sekera, Klefbom-Davidson, Ference-Gryba. Reinhart & Fayne appear to be extras.— Jack Michaels (@EdmontonJack) October 31, 2015
Matt Hendricks skated with the entire team for the first time since a foot injury sidelined him on October 18. He's missed the last five games.
Hendricks stated to the media following Thursday's morning skate that he feels he's anywhere from three to seven days away from a return to the lineup.
Best case scenario for @MattHendy26's return from his foot/ankle injury is three to four days, but he says it could be up to a week.— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) October 29, 2015
One day after being denied of what looked like a sure game-tying goal with 3.8 seconds left from certain camera angles, the Oilers were talking about moving on.
“We have to shake it off. If we spend too much energy and focus on that, it’s in the past right now. We have a new game tomorrow and we’ll focus on that for sure,” said defenceman Oscar Klefbom.
Coach McLellan added that he obviously wasn't happy with the call but felt it was important to compose himself.
“I may be calm on the outside and not so happy on the inside but there’s nothing we’re going to do to change it. If we’re asking our team to have composure and to park situations or plays that maybe go against us — bad calls. We have to do the same as a management team and coaching staff. We’re not happy but we can move on.”
The bench boss also played devil's advocate.
“There can be a debate. I know if I was an L.A. King I’d be saying the right call was made. It can go either way. The call’s done, it’s over, we’ve moved on. Nothing we can do to change it now.”
Oilers defenceman Justin Schultz left the game on Sunday 8:18 into the second period and did not return. The Oilers didn't have any further clarification on the extent of Schultz's injury following practice in Leduc on Monday.
“He had an evaluation this morning and we’re awaiting the results. He’s likely not playing tomorrow if he’s not on the plane so we’ll deal with it after that,” Oilers head coach Todd McLellan said, adding that as a result of not knowing the extent of the injury, the next steps haven't been decided such as whether the team might call another defenceman up.
“Pete (Chiarelli) and I just met a couple minutes ago to discuss what the next step will be. We want to find out where Justin is before any decisions are made.”
McLellan added that he has been happy with the play of Schultz so far, with the exception of one or two hiccups along the way.
“Justin’s made strides for us all throughout training camp. He had a little bit of a setback against Washington but real good strides. His game is improving defensively. He’s trying to figure out the offensive part of it but I think he’s an important piece to our potential success now and moving forward. We’d like to see him get healthy and back as quick as possible.”
With Schultz's injury coming partway through the game on Sunday, the rest of the five healthy blueliners had to step it up. Oscar Klefbom was asked about losing his defence partner.
“Obviously yesterday it was tough to lose Justin. He’s one of the best defencemen, I think, on this team. It’s tough without him but we have eight good defencemen who are ready to go every night so we’ll be fine,” said Klefbom.
The Oilers defenceman did add that he’s glad to be getting some additional power play time. In fact, his unit was on the ice when the Oilers scored the tying goal late in the third period on Sunday night against the Kings.
“It felt good to be on the ice and it was a nice goal. I felt pretty bad it wasn’t enough to go to overtime.”
McLellan touched on the team's decision at the start of camp to carry eight defencemen. It's a decision that right now is paying off with two injured.
“Eight’s not ideal but eight sometimes is important when it comes to injury, when it comes to developing young defencemen. We talked about asset management with Brandon Davidson and when you have a veteran that’s sometimes not playing like Andrew’s been in that situation, it makes it tough for him and it’s not always pleasant,” McLellan began.
“But he’s handled it rather well. He’s a professional. Those are some of the headaches with eight. Some of the positives are that we get everybody involved in reps. We save a little bit of energy on them and we get a chance to figure out what we want to do as a group.”