IN FOCUS | Taylor Fedun Story | Eakins comments on Yakupov rumours
RAW | Linus Omark | RAW | Taylor Fedun | RAW | Devan Dubnyk | RAW | Dallas Eakins
Dallas Eakins | Linus Omark | Taylor Fedun | Devan Dubnyk
Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins sat Nail Yakupov for the final 9:14 of the third period on Tuesday night as well as in overtime. When asked about it, the head coach said that it didn’t really have anything to do with how Yakupov played. In fact, he liked what he saw from the Russian winger.
“The thought process for me — I think I didn’t play him after the eight-and-a-half minute mark, somewhere around there — we had enough forwards that were playing really well defensively. It wasn’t more about protecting our team, it was about protecting the kid.”
Yakupov was on the ice for the first Panthers goal but certainly couldn’t have been faulted for it. In all, he had two shots on net in 12:47 of ice-time.
“I thought he had done enough well in the game defensively and tried hard enough that I just didn’t want anything to go wrong for him. We had enough guys to cover it off.
“They ended up tying the game there on a broken play but when you give up three chances in the third protecting a lead you’ve done one hell of a job. It was little to do with his play, it was more of, listen, you had a sound game for what we were looking for from you and that was enough.”
“I didn’t want anything crazy to happen for him to put a negative spin on it. And now, sitting for eight minutes seems to be a negative spin but it wasn’t. I was happy with his game and I just wanted it to end there and protect him.”
During practice on Wednesday, Dallas Eakins had a long conversation on the ice with Nail Yakupov. It wasn’t your normal coach/player conversation.
“The conversation with Yak was simple. I see him trying to hard to be better defensively and to learn this defensive system that we’re trying to implement. I thought he made a couple of good plays defensively yesterday. I saw the process go through his head on the ice. That was encouraging for me.”
Eakins also made sure to talk about recent rumours surrounding Yakupov potentially being dealt and wanted to ensure the Russian forward knew that there was no truth to them.
“I wanted to also let him know that these reports in the media, the people that are making trades for him are absolutely, 100% untrue. This kid is not going anywhere.
“Guys like Joe Thornton. The kid here, Stamkos. Those guys struggled early in their careers and, boy, they turned out to be pretty good players. Nail Yakupov is not being shopped, he’s not going anywhere and I wanted him to hear that from me, look in my eyes and let him know that we’re attached at the hip. We’re going to make him a better player. It’s okay to struggle.”
Thornton only had three goals and seven points in his first season where he played only 55 games and was frequently a healthy scratch. In his second season, he had 41 points and 16 goals in 81 contests. Yakupov had 17 in 48 games last year but only one goal and three points in 14 contests this season.
“And I let him know about Thornton and Stamkos. It’s part of the process. He’s 20 years old and we’re not going to just suddenly give up on a guy because he’s going through a rough stretch. The people writing their columns and their blogs, they can create their excitement that way but all that’s out there is 100% untrue.”
This morning, the Oilers announced that Linus Omark had been recalled from the AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons. They had let Omark know he was coming up the night before so he was able to make it to Tampa in time for practice.
“I was happy for it. I’ve been working hard now and I hope I get an opportunity to show my best here.”
Omark added that the season has gone as he had expected, with him starting the year in the minors and then having to work his way up to the big club.
“I was prepared to go down to OKC from the start. I knew that I had to play good down there and hopefully (get) the chance. Now I’m here so I hope I get a game here and we’ll see.”
In 12 games in Oklahoma City, Omark has eight goals and 12 points to lead the team in both categories.
“I think I’ve played pretty good. Some games have been really good and some games have been not that good but overall I’ve played pretty good, I think. I’ve played with all kinds of different players because you’ve been hurt up here and they called up people and some guys injured down there. It’s been a strange year so far.”
Omark wasn’t on a line in practice but wouldn’t or couldn’t say whether he was in fact going to play tomorrow against the Lightning.
“We’ll see. You’ll have to ask the coach. We talked a little bit after. We’ll see tomorrow.”
Coach Eakins was equally non-committal when asked whether the forward might find his way into the lineup tomorrow night.
“Any player that’s here and healthy is a possibility to play so he may play,” said Eakins. The bench boss added what his expectations were for number 23.
“With Omark, I think it’s important for him to immediately what we’re trying to do with the identity of this team. We’re trying to restructure our identity that we’re a team that’s tough to get scoring chances against. We’re not using our skill to our advantage and the way to use our skill to our advantage is to be a team that you can’t get scoring chances against. That gets us the puck back quicker where we can use our skill.
“For him, he needs to be defensively responsible immediately and then that will help his offensive game. We just need him to be a responsible player and the rest will look after itself.”
The lines are:
Anton Belov and Justin Schultz skated prior to practice on their own.
The Oilers have recalled forward Linus Omark from the Oklahoma City Barons in the American Hockey League.
The winger leads all Barons in scoring with eight goals, three of which on the power play, and 12 points in 12 games.
In 65 career NHL games, Omark has eight goals and 22 assists.
Taylor Fedun’s first career NHL game couldn’t have gone much better than it did. He had a goal — the first of his NHL career — and was +2 on the night.
“I thought he was steady,” said Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins. “I thought, for his first game he played well. We were asking our D to join the rush in certain situations. That play developed perfectly. It was something we actually worked on at the morning skate this morning and he was able to finish. What a great way to start your career, get a goal and an important win for our team.”
"It was awesome to get out there in the first place and get my legs under me," said Fedun. "I had the opportunity to jump into the play and ultimately finish. It was a pretty special night."
Fedun described his goal:
“They dumped in and we were able to get back to it. And it was a good session of chips and supports by our guys. Every time someone chipped it, someone was there and we slowly beat our guys with all the chipping. And as that happened there was more and more space for me to jump up and find a lane.”
He was also impressed with the feed he got from Nugent-Hopkins.
“It’s right on your tape. I didn’t even have to think about it. He made it pretty easy for me.”
The Oilers were slightly below the 50% line on Tuesday when it came to face-offs but coach Eakins felt that the team won the key draws and clearly that was enough to come away with two points on the night.
“You want to talk about face-offs, Arcobello ended up icing the puck and we had a real important draw with guys that were tired and Nuge really beared down on the draw so that’s another step in the right direction for him because he had struggled early and that was encouraging for me to see.”
Boyd Gordon was once again over 60% in the dot and won a key draw in the extra frame which ultimately led to the overtime winner.
“Those face-offs are extremely important. Our guys continue to work on their draws. Obviously, Boyd Gordon is the best on our team. It’s one of these things with our other centremen, you’ve got to let them go in and take draws. I could have Boyd Gordon take every draw but we’ve got to rely on these other guys and it’s something that they’re trying to improve on.
“It’s another 15 seconds before you can get into the zone and that’s if you can get in there cleanly with no pressure so (face-offs are) important.”
Mark Arcobello scored the first two goals of his NHL career tonight, and made them count. His first was a go-ahead marker in the second period with the game tied 1-1.
“He’s a big goalie and I played against him a lot of games in the American League,” Arcobello said of Jacob Markstrom, who spent a lot of time with the Oklahoma City Barons’ division rival San Antonio Rampage. “He crouched down a little too far and I put it exactly where I wanted which doesn’t always happen. I was happy to get that one.”
His second goal was even bigger, with the Oilers on a four-on-three power play in overtime. Arcobello wired a shot from the left circle.
“I knew he’d be moving with a pass coming across and I tried to get there as quick as I could. That was just the gravy to top off a good night and a big win,” said the rookie forward.
The two goals got a big monkey off the back of the forward, who had an excellent October with 10 assists but had not yet found the scoreboard.
“He’s getting his chances and when those guys are getting their chances, eventually they start going,” stated head coach Dallas Eakins. “Arco, boy, I think he probably could have had four (goals tonight) with a little luck so good on him. He was real solid for us tonight.”
Arcobello was relieved to finally dent the twine.
“I was feeling it a little bit,” he began. “Especially in my last real big chance in Phoenix I should have scored. I want to help the team win, too, that’s the biggest thing. The chances I’ve been missing could have helped our team win the game so it’s nice to be able to contribute tonight.”
Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins was very happy with how the team played on the defensive side of the puck tonight, despite a couple of late goals which pushed the game into overtime.
“I thought we took some baby steps in the right direction defensively. We went in with a fairly detailed plan but with some simple, simple goals we wanted to accomplish and our guys did that,” Eakins said. “And we were rewarded for our defensive play with some odd-man rushes that we were able to convert.”
Eakins also liked that despite the adversity, the team never wavered from their game plan and ultimately it paid off with the OT victory.
“I liked that we stayed in the fight. We were up 3-1 in the third period and then they end up with a goal to tie it. It was a broken play, a fluttering curving puck. It was more bad luck than anything. I liked our third period and the way our guys dug their heels in.
“I thought we played a great third period. This wasn’t a period where we had two massive breakdowns and played on our heels. I highly doubt they had more than three scoring chances in the whole period. I was happy with our period.”
The head coach did let a few thoughts creep into his head as the late scoring play by the Panthers threatened to extend the Oilers five-game winless skid.
“All that was going through my head when they got the third one was ‘geez, what’s it going to take? We’ve played a real solid road game here.’
“After they got their second I thought our guys were good on the bench. I called a time out there and our guys were focused, they were saying all the right things. I liked it. It’s a different thing when you’re up 3-1 or 4-1 and start playing a careless game and you quit playing and we didn’t do that. That’s not what happened here tonight.”