After a great first period, in which the Oilers took a 3-0 lead over Columbus, the team seemed to drag early in the second period. So Head Coach Dallas Eakins called a timeout to get his team refocused and re-energized. He explained the decision after the game.
"I wasn't saying, I was yelling," said Eakins. "I was not excited about how we came out in the period. I was reminding them that they had done such hard things in the first period to get their success. When you do the hard things, the game becomes easy. When you come out in the second and you start playing an easy game, like not stopping on pucks, not winning battles, not supporting your teammates and all those things then the game becomes very hard.
"I wasn't going to let it go on any longer. They had played too well, they had shown that they were going to have great happens. I just thought, it's a timeout, I'm wasting it. Let's have a little chat right now. I thought they responded. I thought they immediately got better and refocused."
He's had an interesting start to his second season. He struggled with his offensive production and most recently made headlines with public statements regarding his lack of ice time.
However, the Oilers forward Nail Yakupov put all that behind him tonight, playing perhaps his best game of the 2013-2014 season.
"He was good," said Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins. "I thought he was pretty good in Calgary at times as well. He was good tonight. He was supporting the puck, he was skating, he was looking to the net… He's getting there. He's going to keep improving. It's just going to take a little time."
Yakupov finished the game with two points, a goal and an assist, while adding three shots on goal and a blocked shot in 16:51 of ice time. The 20 year-old also drew two big penalties in the game and was flying around the ice the entire game.
In his last five games, Yakupov has three goals and two assists. He has registered a point in three straight games.
The Oilers have emphasized the need to get off to a fast start at home. In this game, the Oilers did just that by scoring 2:37 into the game. Players in the Columbus dressing room talked about how that early goal hurt them.
"They scored one early and they just kept compounding," said Columbus forward Nick Foligno. "It doesn't seem like we had that pushback or that answer. We gave them an easy night. They really were able to skate around and do whatever they wanted. It's the wrong way to play."
As the Oilers host the Columbus Blue Jackets here are the forward lines from morning skate:
Belov- J. Schultz
Justin Schultz (groin) is skating and may play tonight.
Devan Dubnyk gets the start in net.
Oilers goaltender Jason LaBarbera has cleared waivers.
He will most likely be assigned to the Oklahoma City Barons of the AHL.
On Friday, the Oilers assigned forward Mark Arcobello to Oklahoma City and recalled defenceman Oscar Klefbom. Given Arcobello's production this season, the news was surprising but necessary given the injury situation with defenceman Justin Schultz and with another blueliner banged up.
Arcobello didn't take the assignment the wrong way, understanding the need to make the move.
"I understand it," said Arcobello. "It was a roster move. It was a necessity. I am eager to get back in the lineup and hopefully it's sooner rather than later."
This morning, Arcobello didn't skate on a definitive line as the team ran the forwards in the same combinations as their game in Calgary, in which he didn't play.
The forward doesn't know if that will carry into tomorrow's game against Columbus, or if he will get his chance to return to the lineup.
"I'm not sure exactly what's going to happen for tomorrow, but I'll show up to the rink ready to play tomorrow."
Head Coach Dallas Eakins commented on Arcobello, reaffirming that he has a place on this team. However, when it comes to cracking the lineup, now that the Oilers forward group is healthy again, it is difficult for a player like Arcobello to claim a spot.
"Arco is a part of this team," said Eakins. "He knows that. He could very well be in the lineup tomorrow. We got arguing about forechecks and stuff this morning with the coaches, so when it came to the lines I just threw out how we had them last game and just left it at that.
"That's going to be Arco's battle, it's going to be a number of our guys' battle, it's going to be Will Acton's battle. Those guys that you were not sure if they were going to make the team in training camp, because it is very hard to knock guys out of the lineup who are and who have been established NHL players. They are going to have to fail greatly to take their spots."
Despite the uncertainty of Arcobello's place, one thing is certain; he belongs in the NHL and with the Oilers. Last week, Eakins told the media that he spoke with his forward and told him to get a more permanent housing situation in Edmonton.
The 25-year-old takes comfort in that reassurance but will continue to earn his place.
"It's a little bit more settling," said Arcobello. "But at the same time, I'm trying to really establish myself here as best I can. It's obviously still a work in progress, and I have to get back in the lineup first and then go from there. I'm constantly working on parts of my game that will help me establish a spot. It's a little bit of the same attitude, but it's comforting know I can get a place here and stick around for a little bit."
Arcobello has 12 points (2-10-12) in 20 games for the Oilers.
The Oilers have been without defenceman Justin Schultz since October 29, but that could change as early as tomorrow as the blueliner may finally be recovered from his groin injury.
It is still uncertain whether or not Schultz will be ready to go tomorrow night against Columbus, but things are looking up for his return.
"I felt really good today," said Schultz. "I'm not going to say for sure, but hopefully I can get in the lineup tomorrow. We'll see how I feel in the morning and tomorrow during skate."
Head Coach Dallas Eakins said last week that Schultz was progressing 'slowly' and the defenceman said he did hit a setback, but seems to be on the right pace now.
"It did slow down there a bit and I kind of took a few days off the ice and then yesterday I had a full day off. I think that's helped me and hopefully it feels good tomorrow."
Coach Eakins says he hadn't spoken with the trainers or Schultz as of practice, and calls both Schultz and fellow defenceman Philip Larsen as most likely 'questionable'. This leads to the possibility of a defenceman being recalled from Oklahoma City.
"Both guys could easily be questionable and if they are, we're going to have to reach down into Oklahoma City again," said Eakins.
Should the Oilers need to recall a defenceman form the AHL, there is a short list of players who have already made the trip to Edmonton this season.
Taylor Fedun has played in four games for the Oilers already this season, with two goals and a -1 rating. Rookie, and former 19th overall pick, Oscar Klefbom was recalled on Friday but didn't suit up for the team while they were in Calgary.
Another more experienced option would be veteran defenceman Denis Grebeshkov.
The team will take a wait and see approach and speak to Schultz before making a decision.
You can watch the coverage live right here in our YouTube archive:
You can also fast forward to the interviews.
Ilya Bryzgalov starts speaking at 9:17.
Justin Schultz speaks at 0:55, Jordan Eberle at 2:33 and Head Coach Dallas Eakins starts speaking at 24:46.
The following are today's forward lines at the Oilers practice:
J. Schultz is skating while Philip Larsen is not on the ice.