Some NHL coaches prefer to always place one or more assistants up top in the press box area to watch the game and report to them. Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins is of a different opinion on the subject, preferring to keep his Assistant Coaches Keith Acton, Steve Smith and Kelly Buchberger nearby on the bench during games as much as possible.
"I think it's important," said Eakins. "As many eyes as you can have. What we're doing, any game that (Director of Coaching Development) Billy Moores is available to attend, we've got him on a headset upstairs. That allows Kelly to be on the bench the whole game, which I like. On games when Billy is not here, if we're on the road or something, then Kelly will go up for just the first period.
"I've never got any mind-blowing information from the guy upstairs. You get little tidbits from it. I don't think it's important to have somebody up there the whole game or designate it. On the road we'll have Kelly go up for the first period. It's a lot of different things, it's an extra set of eyes. Kelly is kind of the rover a little bit. He's watching the defence, he's watching the forwards, he's in my ear about stuff that's coming from downstairs.
"Keith is firmly watching the forwards, Steve is changing the defence and watching the defence. For me, it's an extra guy on the bench to talk to the players. There's 18 skaters and you've only got three coaches back there and I've got a lot going on in my head. I think it's advantageous to have another guy to talk to the guys individually and to remind me of things."
"He handed me the list. Looked like he was right."
Both players scored in the shootout, propelling the team to its 5-4 win."
VIDEO: Dallas Eakins | Ryan Smyth | Devan Dubnyk | Boyd Gordon
AUDIO: Dallas Eakins | Ryan Smyth | Devan Dubnyk| Boyd Gordon
The Oilers skated at Rexall Place on Wednesday after a day off on Tuesday. The forward lines were:
There are no extra forwards, meaning Jesse Joensuu and Ryan Hamiton did not skate.
On the blueline, the pairings were:
First power play unit: Gordon, Perron, Hall, RNH, J.Schultz.
Second power play unit: Hemsky, Belov, Smyth, Eberle, Yakupov.
Edmonton trailed by three goals heading into the third period but scored four unanswered goals to take the lead before a New Jersey tally with under a minute remaining sent the game to overtime. The Oilers would eventually win 5-4 in a shootout to capture their first win of the 2013-14 season.
Thanks to some fantastic research by the Elias Sports Bureau we determined that the Oilers all-time record when down by three or more goals heading into the third period is 5-277-3. This means it was just the fifth time in team history that the Oilers mounted that kind of comeback win.
The odds were stacked against them. Given their past history, the Oilers had a 1.41 % chance of winning yesterday's game after two periods of play.
That makes the Oilers win yesterday that much more memorable because it doesn't happen often.
The Montreal Canadiens come to town on Thursday night to take on the Edmonton Oilers and they will do so with a young forward trio that's been having success thus far.
In two games for the Canadiens, the line of Lars Eller, Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher has combined for five of the Canadiens seven goals on the season.
Eller is the oldest on the line at age 24 while Galchenyuk is 19 and Gallagher is 21 giving the line an average age of about 21-years-old.
The Oilers have a young line themselves with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle. Those three in their first game playing together, combined for two goals and an assist while Eberle also scored the game-winning shootout goal in a 5-4 win over New Jersey.
Their average age? Exactly the same as the Canadiens kid-line.
The Edmonton Oilers are set to begin a tough road schedule that consists primarily of Eastern Conference opponents. 13 of their next 15 opponents are members of the NHL's Eastern Conference. The only two games in that stretch that are from the west are the Los Angeles Kings on October 27, and the Phoenix Coyotes on October 26.
After Thursday's game at home against Montreal, the team will play their next six on the road.
The month of October will be played mostly on the road with only five of their 14 games this month being played in Edmonton.
After Montreal on Thursday the schedule looks like this prior to their next home game which isn't until the Washington Capitals come to town on Thursday October 24:
|Sat, 12 Oct 2013||Oilers||Maple Leafs||5:00 PM||CBC|
|Mon, 14 Oct 2013||Oilers||Capitals||5:00 PM||SNET-W|
|Tue, 15 Oct 2013||Oilers||Penguins||5:00 PM||SNET-W|
|Thu, 17 Oct 2013||Oilers||Islanders||5:00 PM||SNET-EDM|
|Sat, 19 Oct 2013||Oilers||Senators||12:00 PM||SNET-W|
|Tue, 22 Oct 2013||Oilers||Canadiens||5:30 PM||RDS, SNET-W|
The Edmonton Oilers not only wasted no time in playing Ryan Nugent-Hopkins who returned to game action for the first time since off-season shoulder surgery.
The team's top centre finished the game with a team-high 28:12 off ice-tme and played a team-high 37 shifts.
"We didn't let him come in softly to this game," Eakins said with a smirk.
"He was going well and I wanted to make sure he was fit."
Nugent-Hopkins was up to the challenge scoring a power play goal and registering six shots in the 5-4 win. His goal proved to be the spark that lit a fire as the team rallied back from down 3-0.
"I felt great," said Nugent-Hopkins. "It was really nice to get back out there and obviously we started off a little slow as a team but it was a lot of fun. It's good to get back out there and get the big one."
Boyd Gordon was a force for the Oilers tonight in the face-off dot. The off-season free agent acquisition played 31 shifts for the Oilers in tonight's victory and won an outstanding 18 face-offs for the blue and orange. Gordon also registered an assist.
His play earned glowing reviews from Head Coach Dallas Eakins.
"He's not rewarding me, he's rewarding our team," said Eakins. "I hate those guys who do everything right. That is a great example of a guy who has average speed and average skill and not a lot of flash but he is one of the most important players on our team.
"He does everything right. He's underneath the puck every time, he stops in his own zone, he battles hard, he competes, he does all of those things. That's the stuff you want to rub off on the rest of your team. He's winning face-offs, he's in a battle for a face-off. If he loses the face-off, the guy had to do something extraordinary to get it usually. He's been effective in front of the net on our power play when we need him and he's doing everything right with not a lot of flash and dash. That's what we need. I know we've got flash and dash but we just need to do things right.
"We need to play like Boyd Gordon."
Down 3-0 after two periods, fans might expect some sort of battle cry or angry message from Head Coach Dallas Eakins or some of the veteran leaders in the locker room during the intermission.
That wasn't the case.
"Not really," said Taylor Hall. "What was there really to say? We were pretty comfortable with our game plan and I think Dallas just came in and just confirmed that and made sure that we just got more pucks to the net and kept that jam, kept that battle level… All it takes is one shift, a period or anything like that to get your game going, your season going and that's all we needed."
"We came in here and we talked as a team," said centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins who scored the first goal of the Oilers rally. "We had to get back to the basics and we had to play as a team. We got away from that a bit in the first couple of periods. Even though we didn't play terrible, we knew that we just had to come together and not get frustrated."
The players responded to the calm demeanour of their coach, eventually taking a 4-3 lead and then winning the 5-4 game in a shootout despite the hole that was dug through the first two periods.
"Not much to be honest with you," said forward David Perron said of what went on during the intermission. "That's what surprised me and… I loved it because I thought the roof was going to come off, I told the other guys. Dallas came in here and started explaining plays that we have to make better and stuff like that and new ones to kind of get creative. It seemed like from there, everyone seemed to be pretty confident that we could do it."
David Perron finished the game with a goal and an assist as well as a shootout goal in the Oilers 5-4 come from behind victory tonight.
His play earned him 'Player of the Game' honours inside the locker room following the first victory of the season and Dallas Eakins' first as a NHL head coach. He wore his reward proudly in the dressing room following the game; a Canadian Military jacket which Eakins handed down to Perron following his performance.
The jacket arrived to Eakins from a friend by way of a soldier in Afghanistan. The token has great meaning to both the coach and the players as they begin a new tradition in the Oilers dressing room.
"I was looking for something for our team," said Eakins. "Something that meant something. Every team has got something for their player of the game and I really wanted ours to mean something and that jacket, there's no greater level of commitment, courage or teamwork. If people think you're under pressure when you've lost two games, well be under pressure in a war zone. That's pressure.
"We're playing a game. These are small challenges. I handed it off as a reminder to the player of the game that this is what we need. This is what we need from our team. It's a great reminder of the great sacrifices that our military puts forth to keep us safe."
"Dallas handed it to me and it came from over there from someone who gave it to him and it was passed on to him," said Perron. "I guess it's for the hardest worker or whatever it is and I'll get to pass it on for the next time we win the game to a new guy all the way down for the rest of the season."
22-year-old defenceman Brandon Davidson has a good rookie camp and performed well in training camp but he was sent to the Oilers American Hockey League affiliate in Oklahoma City earlier than he wanted.
"It was a long training camp but I think it went well," said Davidson. "When I left, I was a little disappointed that I was going home that early but at the same time I knew it wasn't over. I knew there was some development that needed to be done and maybe I've shown that over the last couple of games down in the AHL. Like I said, I'm just trying to put my best foot forward and do everything I can to be here and just glad I got the opportunity."
Davidson, who yesterday earned his first call up to the NHL in his career was in a good mood following today's morning skate despite the fact that he is not expected to suit up tonight when the Oilers host the New Jersey Devils.
"I'm very excited. I've always had a dream of getting that first call up and finally playing. It's exciting just to be here whether if I get in the lineup or not. It's a great opportunity for me and I'm going to try and make the best of it."
Davidson will look to take advantage of his time in Edmonton and the fact that the team's rookie head coach is very adamant about replacing players who are struggling or not providing a 60-minute effort each night. This gives the young defenceman a good opportunity to pounce on play time if the players in front of him falter.
"It's a great opportunity for me to come in here whether that be if they're having problems or not. I'm going to push the pace for the other guys as well. Compete and whoever is going to be the best is going to be in the lineup. I'm here to compete and battle to get on that roster spot. At the same time I'm happy to be here but in another sense, just being here is not enough. I'm going to keep putting my best foot forward towards playing full time."