Ales Hemsky absorbed a big hit by Vancouver's Ryan Kesler on Friday and the hit resulted in some soreness of his ribs, which held him out of last night's game against Anaheim.
"It's feeling better today," said Hemsky. "I was feeling better yesterday, but the coaches think I wasn't ready. So, that's why I didn't play."
Hemsky admits that it was a big hit by Kesler that he wasn't ready for.
"It was pretty hard but I just didn't expect he would go for the hit like he did. I was thinking he'd go more for the puck and I had seen him coming. I tried to get away but I didn't. I just got it on the side. It was pretty hard actually."
What fans don't know about the incident was that Hemsky attempted to battle through the injury and finish the game against the Canucks.
"During the second intermission in Vancouver, our trainer came to me and said Ales won't be returning, he's done from the hit," said Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins. "As we were walking out, the trainer came back and said, Ales said he's playing. He came back and went as much as he could in the third period. Those are encouraging sings. Those are things you want in your hockey club. Guys like that who are willing to play through it."
Hemsky is the type of player that goes to the hard areas. The way he plays makes him vulnerable to taking big hits from opposing players. That's what makes Hemsky one tough player in the eyes of his coaches and teammates.
"You see how he goes to the net," said Eakins. "He has been fully engaged in what we want to do defensively. This guy goes where you're going to get hurt. This year, he's played through and played with a number of injuries that we haven't said anything about. This guy is a tough hockey player and a guy that we, and I, value highly."
Hemsky isn't afraid of injury do to his play style, he understands it's all part of the game.
"I think, if you want to play the puck you'll get hit," said Hemsky. "That's just common sense in hockey. You just try and be smart about it but sometimes you just try and make a play and you will take a hit. It's just hockey."
The Oilers should have Hemsky back in the lineup tomorrow against Los Angeles.
"We fully expect Ales to be ready," said Eakins. "He was banged up in our previous game. He wanted to play, but he was stiff and he was sore. I just made it my call that, we had healthy guys available, Hemmer has been great for us this year, he's been a guy that's been all in right from day one, his attitude has been excellent and I just thought it was important to give a veteran like him an extra day to heal. I'd rather him play at 100% than be banged up playing. I expect him to be fully ready…"
Oilers defenceman Corey Potter will have a phone hearing this afternoon after receiving a five minute major and a game for checking from behind on Anaheim's Nick Bonino.
"Well it looks bad, that's for sure," said Head Coach Dallas Eakins. "Corey is not a dirty player. I don't think he's been suspended before. I think the guy that received (the hit), maybe wasn't aware that he was right on his tail like that. I'm not sure how you wouldn't be aware of that. Who knows? The one thing I do know is the league puts great thought into it. They don't just look at it and go, give him five games or no games or just fine him. They'll make the right decision, whatever it is."
The Edmonton Oilers have traded goaltender Jason LaBarbera to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for future considerations.
LaBarbera, 33, has played in seven games for the Oilers this season with a 3.28 goals-against average and .870 save percentage. His most recent outing was on Friday night against Boston. He did not allow a goal over two periods of work, making 12 saves.
The Oilers have also activated goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov off injured reserve.
With the classy LaBarbera off to Chicago the #Oilers are now down to 48 contracts— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) December 14, 2013
Oilers players and coaches were looking forward to this difficult road trip to see where they stack up against some of the elite teams in the NHL, given their recent elevated play.
Tonight was a bit of a wakeup call for the Oilers, who struggled to gain traction against a finely tuned Vancouver Canucks team.
"You get hope and you see progression when you play a team like Colorado, or even there were positives to come out of the loss last night against Boston," said Head Coach Dallas Eakins. "But this team (Vancouver) could be playing as well as any team in the League right now. That's your measuring stick, and it's a great reminder for all of us that this is where we need to get to. We need our team to play with that pace and compete level and be in the game for the entire 60 minutes."
Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins responded to a question on whether or not Sam Gagner's placement on the fourth line was to send a message to the centre who has struggled offensively lately.
"I talked to Sam earlier in the day and let him know where I was coming from and why my decision was made," said Eakins. "He understands and knows he's got to do some things better. It's two-fold; it was partly his play but it was probably more the play of (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) and (Mark) Arcobello in last night's game (against Boston). I'm not worried about Sam. He's a character guy and he's going to rebound."
Gagner has 11 points in 21 games this season.
With the Oilers down 3-1 in the second period, Luke Gazdic was hoping to find a way to help get his team back in the game.
"I wasn't really running around looking for it but we were down 3-1 and they were rolling over us at home. It's not the way it's supposed to go here so I thought we needed a bit of a spark," Gazdic remarked. "There wasn't a better guy that I found myself on the ice with and thought the team needed that and I thought it helped."
Coach Eakins felt that the fight did help rally the squad and overall he liked what he saw from the fourth line tonight.
"It definitely got us going," Eakins began. "It never hurts to have one of their players off the ice for five minutes. And the other thing is, Luke was good at finishing his checks. He made some good plays inside his zone to get the puck out, he was responsible with the puck, putting it deep. I liked his game. For parts in the second period, I started running their line against Krejci's line and they were doing quite well."
Perron played a team-high 23:20 and not only had two goals, he had six shots and two hits. He also had two of his shots blocked and three other attempts that missed the net.
"He is a guy that you want to rub off on the rest of the group," Eakins stated. "I know that the group is taking notes because you hear it on the bench when he's on the ice, the things that he's doing."
Mark Arcobello played 14:10 and was 65% in the faceoff circle including a handful of draws versus the always-potent Patrice Bergeron. Arcobello led the team with five hits on the night.
"Tonight, Arcobello was the same thing. Winning battles against Chara, Arco was. That's the level of compete that we need out of everyone."
Nail Yakupov has struggled to find an offensive rhythm this season. Aside from a stretch of five games, in mid-November, in which Yakupov scored six points in six games, the 20-year-old skilled winger has not consistently contributed to the stat sheet. He has five goals and six assists in 30 games this season. However, last night Yakupov might have had a game he can build off of.
Against Carolina last night, the forward finished the game with two points, a goal and an assist. It was the first time all season that Yakupov has scored an even-strength goal. His previous four were all on the power play. It was also only his second time all season to tally a multi-point night. His previous two-point night was on November 19, against Columbus, amidst that aforementioned six-game stretch.
Yakupov was pleased with the results last night, not only for himself but also for the team who managed to get the win.
"I felt good actually, and I think everyone felt pretty good after the game when you get two points," he said.
Yakupov has recently been placed on a line with Sam Gagner and Taylor Hall. Head Coach Dallas Eakins told the media that it is his hope that Hall can get Yakupov going offensively. It seemed, at least for the start of last night's game, that Yakupov was definitely benefiting from his linemates.
His goal was courtesy of a nice feed by Hall from the boards in the first period.
"It's good for me. I had pretty good help and it was a good play by (Hall) and everybody who was on the ice. Hall made a good pass and I just better shoot that thing and put it in."
Yakupov has a lot of respect for his fellow former first overall pick, as well as Gagner.
"(Hall's) a great player, has great speed and I think I've got to use my speed too when we skate together, kind of swing around. We get more chances on the rush and I think it's pretty easy to play with that speed. We have a good centre, Gagner moves the puck pretty well when we play in the middle. He sees the ice and gives us a good chance and good speed…"
Yakupov moved well last night and had a couple of other chances that could have easily turned into goal opportunities. One of the bigger chances was when Yakupov ringed a shot off of the inside of a post and out. From now on the forward knows just what to do from that area of the ice next time; just shoot it.
"I just hit the post. It was a good pass again by Hall and Gagner. I've just got to use my shot. It you're around the net, like a few metres from the net, you've got to shoot it… I've got to shoot it and I'll try next time to score from there again."