The Oilers have been searching for answers to their slow start to the season and Dallas Eakins talked about the process involved in trying to right that ship, so to speak.
“Where we’re at with the team, it’s such a challenge to shake it. We’ve done a lot of talking. We had another long meeting this morning sorting out some things. The thing that I like, though, is we had a spirited practice. That was a positive sign. There was a lot of talk on the ice, there was lots of compete on the ice. The practice had a good pace.”
The head coach really liked what he saw from the team, particularly after a long travel day on Sunday.
“That’s the first encouraging thing for our team because where we’re at right now, it’s a depressing state. And usually that falls into your practice where now you start seeing guys fall away. But we didn’t see that today. We saw the exact opposite. I thought guys were digging their heels in during the practice. Now we’ve got to take that into the game.”
He added that it is very important to take the energy from today’s good practice and try and carry it over to tomorrow night’s game against a Panthers squad that has dropped four in a row.
“We can’t just leave it here today. We’ve got to have it tomorrow at 7:30 (eastern time).”
The Oilers have had some success in the buildings they’re visiting on this four-game road trip. They’re 5-5-2 in Florida all-time with four straight wins in South Florida. In Tampa, the Oilers are 7-4-1 all-time. In Philadelphia, Edmonton has won four of the last five and in their last six visits to the United Center in Chicago, they are 4-1-1.
“The first thing we need is a positive step. We need a good first five shifts to get us going and get away from the mistakes we’re making. I think we’re a group right now where our guys care so much that they’re trying to take on the world themselves and we end up giving the puck back to the other team. I believe today was encouraging but this is a trip that, boy, we’d like to make some hay on.”
Ryan Smyth stated that he's ready to play tomorrow against the Florida Panthers if called upon.
"There's a great deal of possibility," Smyth said about playing tomorrow. "We've got a doc on the road and I'm sure he'll assess me and give the okay but I felt really good and confident the last few practices. No nagging, no lingering so that's a positive step."
Smyth has been out since October 22 with a groin injury.
"I've never experienced a pulled groin before. It's a first in my career. I've had soreness but no pulled groins. It lingers. It lingered there for awhile. It was frustrating because you want to be out there and help out as best you can."
"Smytty will play. We need Smytty in the lineup right now. When things are not going great for your team, you really look to experience and leadership and the more guys like that we can have in our room the better so he will definitely calm the storm and hopefully be able to pick up some of our guys and give them some confidence."
Following practice on Monday, Taylor Hall gave an update on the status of his injured knee, which has kept him out of action since October 22.
"We haven't really talked about a certain date but we have those two games on the weekend (in Philadelphia and Chicago) and I'd like to be playing in those. I'm not sure if I will," Hall began. "Nothing's really for sure but I think the next step is getting contact in to make sure I can take a hit and give one and then get planning on when I want to play."
Hall wore a yellow non-contact jersey at practice (along with Jesse Joensuu). At the time of his injury, a timeline thrown out there was one month so it appears he's ahead of schedule.
"Right from the start, once the swelling got out of there after the first day, there were signs that it's come along really well. Now I can run and do all those things off the ice. Now it's just about getting in those awkward positions. You really do stress your knees on the ice and make sure I can handle that."
Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins gave an update on the status of his injured players following practice in Florida on Monday.
“Anybody that wasn’t on the ice is not good to go,” said Eakins. That included David Perron (neck), who was not with the team to start this road trip plus players who did make the trip such as defencemen Justin Schultz, Anton Belov and goaltender Richard Bachman.
On Belov, Eakins said, “He’s with us, which is a good sign, but he won’t be ready to play tomorrow. Neither will Justin Schultz.”
With both blueliners out, the Oilers will be calling up a defenceman from Oklahoma City. In anticipation of the move, the Barons recalled defencemen Martin Gernat and David Musil from ECHL Bakersfield earlier today.
“We let the managers know that we needed (a defenceman). I was hoping that Schultzie or Belov would be better than they were. They’re not, so they will send us a D and I have absolutely no idea who that will be right now.”
“I said to Keith Acton, boy I wish he could play right now because we need him. You can argue, if he’s not our best player he’s certainly one of them. We’re dying for those injured guys to get back. Hallsy looks great in practice. He brings everything you need right now,” said the Oilers bench boss.
“The biggest thing that he brings for me is he’s always in the fight. He’s always trying. He wants to be the best player on the ice. We will wait patiently for him.”
Jesse Joensuu will be eligible to come off Long Term Injured Reserve (LTIR) on Saturday against the Flyers. Eakins hopes that he will be ready to go.
“The same with Jesse (Joensuu). Today in practice, you see the things that your group’s missing and two of them were wearing (non-contact) gold sweaters today.”
Line combinations based on jersey colour:
Eberle-RNH-Hemsky (light blue)
Jones-Gordon-Arcobello (dark blue)
Joensuu, Hall (yellow)
Wearing orange are defencemen Petry, Ference, Larsen, Smid and Nick Schultz plus winger Ryan Hamilton taking a turn on D.
Goaltenders: Dubnyk, LaBarbera
Justin Schultz and Anton Belov are not skating. David Perron is not on the trip.
Check back for regular updates, audio, video and more.
In his first professional season, Musil has played in five games this season with the Oklahoma City Barons. The Delta, British Columbia, native was drafted by Edmonton in the 2nd round (31st overall) of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Musil played played four seasons in the Western Hockey League with the Vancouver Giants and the Edmonton Oil Kings registering 115 points (28-87-115) in 254 games.
Gernat, also in his first professional season, has played in four games with the Barons, and has scored one point (0-1-1). Also drafted in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Gernat was taken in the 5th round (122st overall) by the Oilers. He spent the past two seasons with the Oil Kings in the WHL registering 68 points (12-56-68) in 83 games.
The pair played in all three games of the Condors’ three-game set against the Alaska Aces over the weekend. Musil scored one goal, while Gernat registered one assist.
Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins says the most frustrating part of tonight's 5-0 loss was the lack of a leader. The team lacked one player stepping up and taking charge of the team to push back at the soaring Red Wings.
"We had no one stand up and push back," said Eakins. "We've got a group that is hurting, they're dying, they've lost their confidence. The best way to get your confidence back is with success. It starts with one guy to push back and you hope that it feeds the rest of the group. All of these guys at some point in their career, every player and every coach in there that's played, have all been looked to to be 'the guy'."
Eakins says everyone has had that chance to be 'the guy' and they have to remember that and move forward with it. However, one player can't shoulder the load on their own and it will take the collective group to make a difference.
"When things are going badly like this, you've got to remember that you've been 'the guy' and it's time to stand up. It can start with one guy, but it's got to be everybody. It can't just be our captain competing hard or a goalie making a couple of big saves, it's got to be the whole group. None of us are as strong as all of us. We all have to be strong together."
The Oilers players were visibly frustrated with their performance tonight. Veteran defenceman Ladislav Smid spoke to the team's need for more accountability in the dressing room. Smid says that the team says the right things, but it hasn't transitioned into on-ice performance or wins, which could lead to some discomfort in the locker room as players will now have more accountability amongst each other.
"We all know we have to stick together and play as a team but at the same time we have to hold each other accountable," said Smid. "I guess it's got to get uncomfortable in here. Otherwise, we'll keep saying the right thing and keep going on the ice and it's going to be the same old thing."
Veteran centre Sam Gagner said it's a frustrating time for the team which came into the season with high expectations.
"There's high expectations every year. Obviously coming into this season, there's hope. There's optimism. Nothing ever gets done unless the guys in the room do it. We haven't been nearly good enough obviously. You look at our record and the way we've played. We've got a lot to prove to ourselves first off and it starts next game."
Head Coach Dallas Eakins was honest in his assessment of the team's performance tonight and as a whole on their 3-10-2 start to the season.
Eakins says right now the team is playing scared and it is up to him to turn things around.
"My job right now is, I've got to find a way to give these guys confidence," said Eakins. "They're dying, they're hurting. I believe they're trying, but we're playing scared right now. You can't play scared in this league or you'll get killed."
Eakins clarified just what the team is scared of.
"They're scared of losing. When you're on a bad roll like we are now, a lot of times you'll go into the game and you're ready to go but then you get back into waiting for that bad thing to happen."
Eakins says the team has played like they're waiting for bad things to happen instead of playing their game.
The Oilers players heard the dissatisfaction of their home crowd as they fell to the Detroit Red Wings 5-0 tonight. Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins addressed the negative fan response with understanding, saying the team deserved it.
"That's a fair assessment," said Eakins. "If we're going to play like that, that's what you're going to get. It's pro sports. The fans are allowed to express their displeasure and it's the only way they can. They can't get you one-on-one and talk to you. With play like that, that's what you're going to get."
The players in the locker room also acknowledge the fan frustration following the loss which dropped the team to 3-10-2.
"We all talk about the right things here," said Ladislav Smid. "Then we go out there and it's like a different team. I've got no words for it. I'm in shock and we have to turn this thing around quickly. It's unacceptable for us. You saw the reaction of the fans and I don't blame them."
Friday, 19.09.2014 / 3:48 PM
By Chris Wescott
Thursday, 18.09.2014 / 10:39 PM
By Chris Wescott
Thursday, 18.09.2014 / 4:55 PM
By Gene Principe
Thursday, 18.09.2014 / 12:43 AM
By Chris Wescott
Wednesday, 17.09.2014 / 8:50 PM
By Chris Wescott
Friday, 19.09.2014 / 4:43 PM
By Chris Stevenson
Friday, 19.09.2014 / 1:21 PM
By Corey Masisak
Friday, 19.09.2014 / 10:00 AM
By Matt Sitkoff
Friday, 19.09.2014 / 3:00 AM
By Davis Harper
Friday, 19.09.2014 / 3:00 AM
By Tal Pinchevsky