Taylor Hall said last night’s 5-2 loss to Vancouver was the first time this pre-season that things didn’t go according to plan for the Oilers. Head Coach Todd McLellan said he wouldn’t give any of his position groups a passing grade for the night. Today’s practice was the team’s first chance to work towards their bounce back.
“We’re trying to define standards and what’s acceptable and unacceptable,” said McLellan. “We have played some good hockey in the exhibition season. We followed it up last night with a game that was, in my opinion, unacceptable in a lot of different areas and that can happen. We’re a team that’s going to learn a lot of lessons as we go. It’s how we respond to them, how we approach the next day, how we as a staff try and structure the day so we can get better. I didn’t think we were at a level we needed to be in a lot of the confined areas of the game and we worked on that today. Yesterday, I was disappointed in the group and today I was proud of the group and it can happen that way. We can have some days where it’s not that good, but we better respond the next day. Hopefully, we got our footing underneath us again and we’re ready to play the proper way in Vancouver tomorrow.”
Is it possible to teach that kind of rebound in the pre-season, or does it take time to develop? Well, bad games are going to happen. McLellan says no matter who you are you have bad games. It’s about knowing what you can live with and what needs to be addressed. That may take time to cultivate, but today was a start.
“I think defining the standards is what we’re trying to do. What’s acceptable and what isn’t? We’re going to have bad games,” said McLellan. “I know Chicago has won three Stanley Cups in the last six years and they’ve had bad games too. It’s what you do as a team after to get better and how you accept that. We spent good time on video today, pointing out situations, not necessarily systems but just situations, execution situations. Then we parlayed that into time on the ice. When they left (practice) they were tired.”
The Oilers may have something in 2013 third-round pick Anton Slepyshev. This is the winger’s first season in North America after playing in the KHL, and he has done nothing but impress so far in training camp and pre-season.
He has played so well that he is now getting time on a line with skilled players, Connor McDavid and Taylor Hall. With Jordan Eberle out 4-6 weeks with a shoulder injury, Slepyshev has stepped up to help fill the void.
Head Coach Todd McLellan agreed with the media that he continues to warrant discussion for the opening night roster.
“When I look at his game, and we watched the video again, the video doesn’t lie,” said McLellan. “He did a lot of the things we worked on today in the game (on Thursday night). He’s a young player, but he’s played pro hockey before. You can see it. He’s been around pro players before. It doesn’t matter what league you’re in, you’re just around older players, more mature players and he carries himself well.”
McLellan said earlier in camp that Slepyshev was “opening our eyes” to what he can do. The 21-year-old can fill spots up and down the lineup, with the ability to play a faster, skilled game or a slower, heavier game. McLellan says the winger has the ability to change the dynamic of a line, depending on who he is replacing.
The Oilers have taken to the ice at Rexall Place for their Friday morning skate.
Gazdic and Klinkhammer are rotating in.
There are eight defencemen on the ice. Oscar Klefbom (who is a little banged up per Head Coach Todd McLellan) is not among them.
With Jordan Eberle sidelined for 4-6 weeks due to a shoulder injury, it is time for players to step up to fill the void. Second-year forward Leon Draisaitl is one of those expected to get more opportunities in Eberle’s absence.
“First of all, obviously, it’s very sad,” said Draisaitl. “Every time you lose a player of that calibre, it hurts your team. Guys are going to have to step up and fill his role. He’s one of our leaders, he’s a tremendous player and we’re all going to have to step up and make sure that we cover for him.”
“Now it’s my job and other guys’ jobs to step in and prove that I can play or we all are ready to play. That’s what I’m here for. Like I said before camp, I’m here to make the team and I’m trying to improve every night,” said Draisaitl.
Draisaitl is positioned on the right wing, a spot his head coach likes him in and one the player feels comfortable in, despite being a natural centre.
“I really like using my backhand a lot,” said Draisaitl. “I always think it gives me a little more options and I think I can handle my backhand pretty well. I like using it.”
The 2014 third-overall pick continues to push forward in his bid to be a full-time NHL player this season. Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan says he won’t get a job by default because of Eberle’s injury. Draisaitl has earned more opportunities in his coach’s eyes. Thursday and Saturday against Vancouver are good tests for the young forward.
“I think Leon was in good position to keep pushing even before Jordan’s injury,” said McLellan. “That’s not going to get handed off just because of the injury. He’s had a good camp. He’s shown the ability to play in different positions. Now when we play against this Vancouver team, which I think will be closer to an NHL calibre full-time team, we’ll get a better indication of how he handles that.”
Jordan Eberle is out 4-6 weeks due to a shoulder injury he suffered in the first period of last night’s game against the Arizona Coyotes. The hit and collision didn’t seem like anything too violent or anything you’d associate with a long-term injury, but Eberle said right away he was in pain and discomfort.
The Oilers forward skated off to the bench, then exited the game for good.
“It wasn’t anything big,” Eberle said of the play. “It was just kind of a small hit. I was trying to keep the play alive by reaching in for the puck and kind of just folded my shoulder over. Just got hit right away, knew something was wrong and got back to the bench.”
Nobody wants to be injured, that’s for certain. However, Eberle says there’s a benefit to getting an injury out of the way this early on.
“Pretty frustrated. You train pretty hard in the off-season to get where you are and you get a setback like this and it definitely sucks,” he said. “There’s definitely a bright side to it. It’s obviously better to do something like this now than maybe later in the season when, hopefully, we’re battling for a playoff spot or in the mix.”
Eberle says he hopes to get on the stationary bike soon to stay in shape before being allowed to return to the ice in a few weeks.
The Oilers are at the Royal Glenora Club for their Wednesday practice.
Korpikoski-Lander-Yakupov (Slepyshev rotating in)
Hendricks-Letestu-Klinkhammer (Gazdic rotating in)
Mark Fayne not participating at practice. Likely just a maintenance day. #Oilers— Chris Wescott (@TheChrisWescott) September 30, 2015
The Oilers have announced that winger Jordan Eberle will be out 4-6 weeks with a shoulder injury.
Eberle left last night's game against Arizona, in the first period, following a collision against the wall behind the Coyotes net. He did not return.
Hear more from Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan following today's practice, on edmontonoilers.com.
The Oilers have returned to Rexall Place for their Monday practice.
Players on the ice this morning:
Klinkhammer is the extra forward.
They haven’t run set pairings.
The Oilers first group is on the ice for morning skate at Rexall Place before flying to Winnipeg for tonight’s game against the Jets. This is not the roster that will be playing tonight, it will be a mix with Group B.
Group A is unchanged from Thursday, except no Talbot.
Group A Forwards:
Group A Defencemen:
Group A Goalies:
Justin Schultz had a very solid game against the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday night at Rexall Place. The Oilers defenceman scored a goal, played with a bit of a physical edge and made good plays with the puck.
Perhaps Schultz’s progress on the ice is a clear indication that his work in the off-season is paying off. Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan says Schultz came into camp ahead of where he was last year from a fitness standpoint, but he’s also impressed with the cerebral side of the blueliner’s game.
“From Justin Schultz, in the six days we’ve been on the ice, he’s fit. His numbers are way up from where they were last year. Strong, and that doesn’t mean fit. He’s strong mentally, and confident,” said McLellan. “(He’s) been open, willing to learn and asking questions. He looked like he had good legs last night, and a little bit of a jump in his stride. (He’s) still learning how we want to play and learning some concepts. He’s got a dynamic skill set, that we’re starting to see. A lot of real positive things. He, like the rest of us and the coaching staff and the players, all still have to find our games and polish it up a little bit before the season starts.”
McLellan calls Schultz a “very important piece” of the team and likes his “dynamic offensive skills.” The head coach says he would like for Schultz to improve defensively, but he wants that from all his players. There is another thing Schultz can do more of, and that’s shoot the puck.
“He’s got a great shot,” said McLellan. “He should be shooting that puck a lot, and we expect him too. It will be in his hands a lot in the offensive zone. Shoot it, we’ll get it back.”