The Oilers skated on Tuesday morning prior to tonight's contest against the Carolina Hurricanes. Jeff Petry (head) participated with the team but his status for tonight's game is not yet known.
Following the skate, the Oilers announced that Richard Bachman has been assigned to the AHL's Oklahoma City Barons.
There is no denying the offensive abilities of Taylor Hall. The Oilers forward has 25 points (11-14-25) in 24 games this season. Today, he was named the NHL's 2nd Star of the week for the period ending December 8. During that span, Hall scored four goals and added two assists.
"It's good," said Hall. "I feel like I've been playing pretty well lately. I've definitely improved in my own end since the start of the year, and I feel like I'm trending upward. I hope that continues."
Hall has shown his ability to put the team on his back and lift them up offensively, but now his focus has turned to the defensive part of his game.
"Taylor Hall is always going to get his offence, he is," said Head Coach Dallas Eakins. "He's strong, he has speed, he's got good vision and he has good hands. The place that Taylor is improving, not only from the eyes of the coaches but our people upstairs, is his defensive play. It's small, little things that we have been promoting with him and he's taken to heart and he's getting better at. He's turning into a much more rounded player and he's a horse. When he's on, he carries our team. He gives us energy and he's a guy that we look to, to produce in a number of different situations. He's been very good as of late."
Sometimes improving defence has everything to do with slowing things down.
Eakins said, "It's awareness, it's what's going on around him, it's protecting the 'good ice'. We call it the 'good ice' all the time. Taylor's about speed and he's about momentum. Speed is your friend until it isn't. Coming back into our zone, talking about protecting that 'good ice', a lot of times you have to stop in it. It was one thing that was not there at all in his game early, but he's taken the necessary strides to get better at it. He still has work to go, he knows that, but he's taking great notice of how important the defensive game is…"
Hall is happy with his improvement defensively and says that team success has been a factor.
"I like the way that I'm playing defensively and obviously, our team is scoring a lot of goals lately and that's helping," said Hall. "We're winning games and in turn, that's going to create some individual success. I've been shooting the puck a lot lately, I've been getting shots to the net and whoever I am playing with, we seem to have some good chemistry. Like I said, I hope that continues and it has to. It's fun to win. Even though we're not winning every game, I feel like we're doing the right things and we're on the right track."
Boyd Gordon played just nine shifts in Columbus on November 29. He has not played in a game since that night, sitting out due to injury. Head Coach Dallas Eakins told the media Gordon was ailing from a number of injuries, but today he narrowed it down to his shoulder.
"Honestly, it was just the shoulder," said Gordon. "If I didn't hurt my shoulder, I wouldn't have missed any time. It kind of came slow. You get to a point where it gets better and you kind of peak a little bit. I'm definitely close, I'm not there yet, but we'll see how it goes the next few days, skating here."
There is no timeline for his return to game action, but he has begun skating the team with a non-contact jersey.
"It's just a little bit sore but that's a pretty common shoulder injury. Like I said, it's getting better. We'll see how it goes the next few days."
The Oilers are on the ice for practice at Rexall Place. Here are the line combinations:
Boyd Gordon is also on the ice, skating in a non-contact jersey.
#Oilers lines by jersey colour today: 4-89-64, 57-93-14, 6-26-83, 94-20-51-28 all in white. Boyd Gordon in non-contact yellow— Chris Wescott (@TheChrisWescott) December 9, 2013
Edmonton Oilers forward Taylor Hall has been named the NHL’s Second Star for the period ending December 8, 2013. Carolina Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner and Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo have also been named one of the NHL's Three Stars.
SECOND STAR -- TAYLOR HALL, EDMONTON OILERS
Hall notched six points (4-2--6) in three games as the Oilers (10-18-3) earned three of a possible six points. Hall recorded one assist in a 6-2 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes Dec. 3 before tallying his fourth career hat trick plus an assist in an 8-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche Dec. 5. Hall closed the week by scoring the game-tying goal with 10.1 seconds remaining in regulation time in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Calgary Flames Dec. 7. The first overall selection in the 2010 NHL Draft has recorded 25 points (11-14--25) in 24 games this season.
FIRST STAR -- JEFF SKINNER, CAROLINA HURRICANES
Skinner tallied six points last week, including a League-leading five goals, as the Hurricanes (13-12-5) recorded three victories and climbed to third place in the Metropolitan Division. Skinner recorded two goals, including the game-winner, and one assist in a 4-1 win over the Washington Capitals on Dec. 3 and notched his first career NHL hat trick in a 5-2 victory over the Nashville Predators Dec. 5. The 21-year old Markham, Ontario native is in his fourth NHL season, all with Carolina. He has recorded 17 points (9-8--17) in 19 games this season.
THIRD STAR -- ROBERTO LUONGO, G, VANCOUVER CANUCKS
Luongo posted a 3-0-0 record, 1.30 goals-against average and .960 save percentage to help the Canucks (17-10-5) move into fourth place in the Pacific Division. Luongo made 30 stops in a 3-1 victory over the Nashville Predators Dec. 3, posted 37 saves in a 3-2 overtime win over the Phoenix Coyotes Dec. 6 and concluded the week with 28 saves in a 3-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche Dec. 8. The 34-year-old Montreal native improved to 14-8-5 on the season with a 2.28 goals-against average and .918 save percentage. He holds the Canucks' franchise record for career wins (247) and ranks 16th on the NHL's all-time list (362).
The Oilers have assigned forward Tyler Pitlick to the AHL's Oklahoma City Barons.
The Oilers didn't have a traditional practice today as part of the team participated in fitness testing, part of rookie Head Coach Dallas Eakins' devotion to his team's conditioning.
The coach says he hasn't seen the results of the testing but, just from observing, the team appeared to be working hard.
"I haven't seen the results," said Eakins. "It looked like they were working hard but looks aren't the important things, it's the time. We had tested about half the team a week ago, on a day, and we had the other half today."
Ilya Bryzgalov skated this morning, taking some shots, as he works to return to game action since leaving the game against Dallas on December 1.
Bryzgalov has remained out of the lineup due to 'concussion and whiplash-like symptoms', but he says he is feeling much better, but couldn't clarify if it was a concussion or not.
"It's much better," the goaltender said. "I don't know exactly what the term is but, like I said before, I feel much better."
Bryzgalov described his symptoms for the media following practice today.
"It was headaches most of the time and there was trouble with sleeping and right now, that's pretty much it."
Both Head Coach Dallas Eakins and Bryzgalov could not provide a timeline for his return.
"Whenever the medical staff says he's ready to go," said Eakins. "You've got to watch those head, neck, or whatever you want to call it, injuries. You don't want to fool around with them. When you start getting closer and it's your knee, it's easier to say, ' four more days'. When it's anything above the shoulders, it's open-ended."
When asked if he has ever experienced upper body injuries in his career before, Bryzgalov said yes with the most recent one being in 2010.