The Oilers may get Nikita Nikitin back into the fold sooner rather than later. The defenceman has missed the last two games with back spasms. He was on the ice at practice on Friday.
“It will be tomorrow,” Head Coach Dallas Eakins said of when they’ll know if Nikitin is ready to play. “With those backs you never know what’s going to happen. He came in yesterday on a day off, which he is not required to do, on his own and had some of our guys here. He skated yesterday, which was the first positive. He got through practice, which is the second. We’ll see how his bed treats that back tonight and we’ll make the decision tomorrow.”
Viktor Fasth is recovered from his groin injury, which he suffered on October 14, in Los Angeles.
That being said, the Oilers are still taking their time in returning the goaltender to the lineup. Ben Scrivens will start tomorrow night against Vancouver.
“We’re going to give him a little bit more time,” Head Coach Dallas Eakins said. “He’s just getting up to speed but he’s ready to play, we have no doubt about that. It won’t be tomorrow.”
Nail Yakupov has shot the puck just 16 times in 10 games this season. The Oilers would love to see that number go up, given the offensive potential of the young winger.
“I’d like to have Yak at five or six shots per game,” Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins said. “It’s on him to get open, it’s on him when he has the shot to take it and not be nice and friendly to his teammates, which I find he is at times. He’s such a great kid that he’s trying to help his teammates out too and we’d like him to take a more selfish role there, his teammates will understand. It’s also on his linemates to find him.”
Yakupov has two goals and two assists this season.
The Oilers have tweaked their lines a bit for the start of practice on Friday morning.
The defensive pairings are as follows:
Oilers defenceman Nikita Nikitin is practicing this morning. He has missed the past two games with back spasms.
Although Nikitin is practicing, it looks like Brad Hunt is still skating with Justin Schultz. Nikitin is skating with Brandon Davidson as the extra pairing.
Nikita Nikitin practicing this morning. #Oilers— Tom Gazzola (@TomGazzola) October 31, 2014
Nikitin on ice this morning, but Hunt still with Schultz as a pair.— Jack Michaels (@EdmontonJack) October 31, 2014
Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins announced after the game that the team has assigned forward Luke Gazdic and goaltender Richard Bachman to Oklahoma City. Goaltender Viktor Fasth has been cleared to play and Gazdic will head to OKC for a conditioning assignment.
“Both guys have been cleared,” Eakins said. “We’re reassigning Richard Bachman in the morning and Luke will join him and go on a two week conditioning stint.”
Two-week conditioning stint with @OKCBarons for Gazdic as he makes his return to game action following April shoulder surgery.— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) October 30, 2014
The Oilers can only hope that Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins prove to be their bright future up the middle. The two young centres will be living together for the time being, with Draisaitl getting the news that he would be staying in the NHL past his first nine games.
“For now, I’m going to move in with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins,” Draisaitl said. “He’s going to take me under his wing I guess and I’m really thankful for that. He’s a great guy and somebody I look up to. He’s a great centreman and it’s fun being around him for sure.”
Leon Draisaitl remains with the Oilers past nine games, but there is always room for improvement. Head Coach Dallas Eakins expects Draisaitl to just continue to improve and show the things that kept him here.
“What every player on our lineup is doing,” Eakins said. “We’re always looking to improve our habits, we’re looking to be students of the game, we’re looking to be very fit, we’re working to compete very hard every night. It’s nothing that we aren’t asking of all our players.”
The decision to keep Draisaitl was an easy one according to Eakins. He continued to improve and never fell off when it came to facing the pressure or competition.
“He continues to improve,” Eakins said. “If he had fallen off of a cliff somewhere along the way that would have been the easy decision. It’s been a very easy discussion. He’s earned his right, he continues to get better and those are positive signs for us.”