Tampa Bay is ready to strike, prepared to skate hard in a 60-minute bout for victory.
“I think, obviously, that we’ve had some injuries but you don’t want to use it as an excuse,” said Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop.
“You have capable guys that come up and can fill spots for us, you know you can’t use it as an excuse, kind of reaching down deep and have that will to win and win every night.”
After a loss in Calgary on Tuesday, the Lightning are looking for a win over Edmonton to add to their 9-8-3 road record.
“[Edmonton’s] a really good team,” said Bishop. “They have a lot of skilled guys up front so they can be very dangerous, you’ve got to know where they are at all times — you want them to play in their own end. They’ve got so much skill so if they’re in your offensive zone most of the game you’re probably in trouble.”
The Oilers have assigned forward Jujhar Khaira to the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors. Khaira, 21, played 12 games for Edmonton on his call-up, recording two assists and seven penalty minutes.
Khaira has seven points (3-4-7) in 16 games for the Condors this season.
- BLOG: McLellan on Oilers road performance
- BLOG: Hall on Oilers at home
- BLOG: Brossoit and Hunt name AHL All-Stars
- BLOG: Thursday updates
- THE PANEL | Presented by Sport Chek
- PRACTICE | Thursday at Rexall Place
- PRACTICE RAW | Taylor Hall
- PRACTICE RAW | Brad Hunt
- PRACTICE RAW | Todd McLellan
- CONDORS RAW | Laurent Brossoit
There’s a preconceived notion that when a team travels, they’re less likely to achieve the winning results they want.
Lack of home fans, lack of home-ice advantage and lack of a familiar environment are just a few of the reasons as to how a team can be affected when on the road. Throw in travelling in-between games played and that can really interrupt a pattern.
“We’ve got to get better as a road team,” said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan.
Though the home record is, in McLellan’s opinion, “A little above average,” it’s the road record that needs to improve.
The Oilers are currently 5-13-2 on the road this season, compared to 2-10-7 at this time last year.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a written rule or a math formula for quick fixes to generate greater team outcomes on the road, it’s more of a feeling out process.
“[At home] we get more of a opportunity to match up the way we want, I think first of all,” said McLellan. “Two, the comfort of playing in our own environment and surroundings certainly helps. We feel the fans behind us, and that can create some energy for us. We’ve played a better overall team game at home too, so that probably lends itself to having a better home record…but we’ve been poor on the road, so that’s the big swing.
It’s a different team, simple as that. New players, new coaches and a newly invigorated fan atmosphere, and now the Oilers have generated a new outcome as a result.
With a 12-7-1 home record this season, Oilers forward Taylor Hall says he feels it can be attributed to a lot of these changes.
“We just seem more comfortable, it seems like we start games a lot better,” he said.
“We don’t wait for the other team to come in here and dictate how the game’s going to go, we just kind of go and play, and it’s been a lot of fun to play here, especially it being the last year [in this building].”
Compared to this same time last year, the Oilers had a 7-13-2 record.
“I just think overall as a team we’re a better team,” said Hall. “We have better fundamentals and our identity seems to come through at home a little bit more.”
Hunt, 27, is currently up with the Oilers after beginning the season with the Bakersfield Condors. The blueliner has 23 points (6-17-23) in 26 AHL games this season, which is good for second on the Oilers farm team in scoring.
Hunt is now a three-time AHL All-Star, having been selected in the 2012-13 and 2014-15 seasons. He was named to the AHL First All-Star Team in 2014-15.
Brossoit, 22, earns the first AHL All-Star honours of his career. The goalie has played 18 games for the Condors this season, posting a 2.52 GAA and .928 save percentage. He is 10-5-3 with three shutouts. The Oilers goalie prospect ranks fifth in the AHL in save percentage and is tied for fourth in shutouts.
The Oilers have taken the ice for practice on Thursday at Rexall Place.
Matt Hendricks, who missed yesterday’s practice (non-injury related), is back today.
Stay tuned for more updates, as well as video coverage from the skate.
BLOGS & FEATURES
- BLOG: Hall "honoured" by All-Star nod
- BLOG: Oilers' Finns celebrate WJC win
- BLOG: Wednesday updates
- PRINCIPE: H-all Star
- FUTURE WATCH: Building the blueline with Betker
- PRESS RELEASE: Hall named to 2016 NHL All-Star Game
- PRACTICE | Wednesday at Rexall Place
- PRACTICE RAW | Iiro Pakarinen - Injury update
- PRACTICE RAW | Taylor Hall
- PRACTICE RAW | Todd McLellan
There is no doubt Taylor Hall is deserving of being selected to attend the 2016 All-Star Weekend at the end of the month in Nashville.
“I’m excited,” said Hall. “It’s an honour. It’s something I’m very proud of. It’s just going to be really fun to be included in a group of guys like that. It’s been a pretty good first half with some help from some really good linemates and some coaching that I’ve had this season. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Hall leads the Oilers in points (41), goals (16) and assists (25) halfway through the season. His linemate, Leon Draisaitl, has seen just how effective Hall can be when he is at the top of his game.
“He’s one of the best wingers in the world right now and there’s no one who deserves it more than him,” Draisailt said of Hall’s selection.
There were a pair of happy Finns in the Oilers locker room on Wednesday after their home nation won gold at the 2016 World Junior Championship on Tuesday.
“It was a really good game overall,” said Turku native Lauri Korpikoski, all smiles.
In a tense and thrilling climax, Finland scored the game-winning goal 1:33 into the overtime period, securing a 4-3 victory over Russia.
“That was great,” added Iiro Pakarinen, whose hometown is Loviisa. “Unbelievable games they played, all those playoff games they did, all those overtime games — yesterday I was waiting the whole day and watching the game. It was a great, great hockey game — and Russia was good too — it could have gone either way.”
With the Finns leading 3-2, Russia pulled their goalie with 43 seconds left in the third, scoring the equalizer with 6.4 seconds left on the clock.
“Well obviously it’s a tough goal, when they score like that,” said Korpikoski.
“We were obviously waiting for the party to start. But again the overtime winner was good too, so like I said, I think it was an even game, both teams played well, but I think Finns had a little bit of an edge and got the better of them, so it was good.”
Both Korpikoski and Pakarinen have had their go at the World Juniors with the Finnish team. Korpikoski played in 2005 (placing fifth) and again in 2006 (winning bronze), while Pakarinen suited up in 2010 (placing fifth) and 2011 (placing sixth).
“It’s great to have the boys win one on the home turf and the guys got a little party,” said Korpikoski. “It’s probably good they had the day off today — a national holiday (in Finland) — I don’t think many people would have shown up to work anyway.”