The Oilers are on the ice for practice at Rexall Place but down a few bodies after playing last night.
Oscar Klefbom, Benoit Pouliot, Jordan Eberle and Andrew Ference are not on the ice. Brandon Davidson is skating, which is a good sign as he is likely to be ready to return tomorrow against Buffalo, per Todd McLellan.
Full practice for Oilers this morning but down a few bodies. Klefbom, Eberle, Pouliot, Ference not on the ice— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) December 5, 2015
The Oilers took a 2-1 lead at 9:22 of the third period last night against Boston. At 16:39, Zdeno Chara scored to tie the game and to send it to overtime. While the Oilers would win in the end, they were left wanting more in terms of closing out the game in regulation.
“Right now, we’re trying to win games,” said Matt Hendricks. “We’re trying to figure out how to hold onto leads in the third period and kind of put teams out, manage our game and play a defence-first styler where, even if it’s tied, we’re going to try and score goals but we’re not going to lay everything on the line. We’re learning all that and that ties into stringing games together and being consistent for 60 minutes and being consistent game in and game out, day to day, all those things, and practicing the same way every day.”
The Oilers are now 4-5-0 when tied after two periods and are 2-10-2 when trailing after 40 minutes. Yet, they’ve been in games down to the wire and want to close more of those out.
“I think we’ve had a couple games that we have to be able to close,” said Oscar Klefbom. “We’ve played some really good games but we still don’t get the win after regulation.”
An example of looking to close out games late is their home contest against Los Angeles on November 14. Edmonton tied the game at 15:10 of the third, but allowed a goal at 18:23 to lose in regulation.
“We played a really good game and we should have won that game too in regulation,” said Klefbom. “I think it’s something where we’re in a learning process right now. We need to focus on playing really good games for 60 minutes.”
Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan said after last night’s win over Boston that there is the will to close out games late, but the knowledge comes with experience and the players are still learning how to play with a late lead or end games when they have a chance.
The Oilers have yet to show a level of consistency in their game that results in strings of wins. They’ve beaten or skated with some of the best in the league, but then drop a disappointing loss to a lower team in the standings the next time out.
The Oilers halted the Boston Bruins win streak at five games last night and handed them a 3-2 shootout loss. That being said, the players realize they can’t hang their hats on one game and one win.
“That game is over with,” said Jordan Eberle. “Obviously, we’re happy with the result but tomorrow is a new day and we’ve got to find a way to put another good effort in and win another hockey game. It can’t just be a one-in-every three game thing. We have to find a way to consistently play well and play together.”
The up-and-down roller coaster of a season is not something the Oilers want to continue. For example, the team held a high-flying Washington Capitals team to one goal in a loss, but answered with a 4-1 letdown in Carolina. They beat Pittsburgh in a shootout, then lost 3-0 to Toronto. That’s something that needs to end if Edmonton wants to add more points to the standings.
“We play a really good game in Washington and then we go to Carolina and play like the worst game of the season,” said Oscar Klefbom. “We have to be more consistent if we’re going to be a team to battle against the teams in playoff spots. The game we played last night, I think, was a really solid game for 60 minutes. It was against a really good team too like we played in Pittsburgh. That’s the level we want to keep at and I think the next game is going to be a really big game for us to get a streak going and get some momentum and confidence in the team and get some really good energy in here. I’m looking forward to the next game for sure.”
While Jordan Eberle is currently in the midst of a six-game streak in which he’s recorded no points, the Oilers winger feels it turning around.
Eberle feels the first step to sparking offence is generating more chances. The more chances you generate, the better chance one goes in. If one goes in, and you keep getting chances, more goals will come.
Against Boston, Eberle had a few looks at the net but couldn’t score in regulation or overtime. Instead, he netted the game-winning goal in the shootout, which is something that can give him a little extra skip in his step moving forward. In the end, however, it goes back to keeping your feet moving and generating chances. That’s something Eberle has felt creep back into his game as of late.
“You definitely gain confidence from that,” said Eberle. “I think more than anything, you want to generate chances. You just want to generate as many as you can a game and the odds are eventually something is going to go in your way. I thought I generated a lot more in Toronto than I had before and yesterday I generated a lot too. You’ve got to generate chances before the puck starts going in and then when it does you start just gaining confidence and things start snowballing from there.
“Obviously, I want the puck to go in really bad and I know it’s going to come. I’m confident in my ability and I’m playing with two good players. The other thing too is the whole team is kind of fighting it offensively. We’ve all got to get on the same track, going to the net and finding those goals that are hard to score.”
Eberle doesn’t feel far off from getting on the score sheet and contributing offensively.
“Right now is the most confident I’ve felt all year and you just keep generating more and more and stuff is going to come.”
To say Anders Nilsson is comfortable in shootouts is probably underselling it a little. The Oilers goaltender is a perfect 6-0 lifetime in the skills competition and has stopped 13 of 16 attempts against.
This season, this past week even, Nilsson has two shootout wins for the Oilers. One came in Pittsburgh on November 28 and the other came last night at home against Boston.
“I feel pretty good. Me, personally, I like shootouts,” said Nilsson. “I’m just trying to be as patient as possible and trying to wait for the player to make the first move, trying not to bite too hard. We have some great players on our team that can really put the puck in the net and that helps me get some stress off my shoulders. It’s always good to know that when we have the chance of a shootout, we have a good chance at scoring.”
When the Oilers beat the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Saturday, everything was awesome. The Oilers knocked off a good team in a hostile environment and set their sights on turning a corner and finishing a long road trip at .500.
Unfortunately, they couldn’t build off the win and dropped a disappointing 3-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday.
Last night, the Oilers beat a surging Boston Bruins team 3-2 in a shootout. The win was a quality one, but the club wants to rein in their excitement given past experience with coming off a win. This morning, the Oilers had a much different attitude than the one they had following the Pittsburgh win. Happy, but not satisfied with the results.
“That’s one of the keys we talk about, is we can’t be on a roller coaster continuously and we can’t play to the level of the opponent that we’re playing against,” said Oilers winger Matt Hendricks. “Last night was a great game for us and it was a good thing we weren’t as high as I’ve seen us in other wins. We beat Pittsburgh that night and were a pretty high team, feeling pretty good about ourselves. We learned a bit of a lesson. We came in with more of a working demeanour and were detailed in our meetings and we’re looking forward to tomorrow.”
Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan says the Oilers haven’t put themselves in a position where they can be over-confident or high on themselves after a win. The challenge is for Edmonton to tune out outside opinion and focus on building on their games.
“We know the task ahead of us on a nightly basis is very tough. We have the ability and capability to handle it,” said McLellan. “I felt the mood with the team yesterday before the game was one of, maybe not so much in the locker room but around the locker room, despair and disaster. We have to watch that we don’t let that come into the room. We are going to keep doing the things that we do, try to get better every day and the outside world is going to have their opinion. They’re certainly entitled to it, and almost 100 percent of the time it’s accurate, but we have to keep marching on and doing what we’re doing. Our physical and emotional state has to be taken care of so we’re focused on playing.”
The Oilers are on the ice at Thursday’s practice at Rexall Place. Benoit Pouliot is absent from the skate.
Hall-Draisaitl-Eberle Pakarinen-RNH-Purcell Hendricks-Letestu-Korpikoski Khaira-Lander-Gazdic Klinkhammer extra No Pouliot— Reid Wilkins (@ReidWilkins) December 3, 2015
The Edmonton Oilers announced today, they have activated defenceman Justin Schultz from Injured Reserve.
Schultz, 25, has appeared in nine games with the Oilers this season, registering one assist and two penalty minutes. He also ranks second on the Oilers in time on ice, averaging 21:46 of ice time per game.
The Oilers also announced today they have assigned defenceman Griffin Reinhart to the American Hockey League’s Bakersfield Condors.
Reinhart, 21, has appeared in 12 games with the Oilers this season, registering eight penalty minutes.
The Edmonton Oilers announced today, they have recalled winger Jujhar Khaira from the American Hockey League's (AHL) Bakersfield Condors.
Khaira, 21, has appeared in 16 games with the Condors this season, posting seven points (3G, 4A) and seven penalty minutes.
The Surrey, British Columbia native has accumulated 17 points (7G, 10A) and 71 penalty minutes in 73 career AHL games.
The Oilers rolled out a new look to their forward lines on Thursday at practice in Detroit. The movement up front is an attempt to spark production after the Oilers offence has sputtered in recent games. They were shut out in Washington and managed just one power play goal against Carolina in a 4-1 loss to the Canes last night.
The Oilers broke up the top six, with Taylor Hall and Leon Draisaitl sticking together along with new right winger Jordan Eberle. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was centring Lauri Korpikoski and Teddy Purcell on the other top line with Benoit Pouliot dropping down with Mark Letestu and Matt Hendricks.
Some of the tweaks were made necessary by the injury to Nail Yakupov. However, the Pouliot-Nugent-Hopkins-Eberle line didn’t produce like Head Coach Todd McLellan would have hoped at Carolina.
“That line had a tough night,” said McLellan. “The empty-netter is an empty-netter so they were -3, they were on for every goal. Some of them had absolutely nothing to do with being scored on. They just happened to be on the ice. Others had an involvement. I didn’t think they were real strong defensively, but certainly not offensively as well. They didn’t create anything, they didn’t get to the net, they didn’t get second chances. Power-play wise, they were OK but that’s a couple nights in a row so we’ve got to fix it.”