Matt Hendricks is the newest Oilers player to wear the 'A' on his chest. Hendricks is an alternate captain for the Oilers tonight in their game against the Los Angeles Kings.
Oilers defenceman Jeff Petry left Thursday night’s game against the New York Islanders with a back injury and did not return. The team had a day off on Friday and it must have done wonders for Petry, who took to the ice this morning at Millennium Place in Sherwood park and participated fully in the drills.
“It’s gotten a lot better since the game,” Petry said. “Yesterday morning, it was still pretty stiff and then it loosened up quite a bit yesterday and it feels pretty good today.”
Petry said he feels like he could play tomorrow night when the Oilers host the Los Angeles Kings, but the team is still in a ‘wait and see’ evaluation mode.
“He woke up yesterday not very good and today it had huge improvement so we’ll just have to make the call tomorrow morning and we’ll see how he is,” Head Coach Dallas Eakins said. “I’m encouraged, after talking to him, that I think he’ll be able to play but you never know. We’ll just give him another 24 hours to see where he’s at.”
Eakins said the team really missed Petry after he left the game and would hope to see him back soon. Oscar Klefbom would make his NHL debut if Petry is unable to play.
The Oilers have taken the ice at Millennium Place for practice. Here are the forward lines as per jersey colour:
#Oilers forward lines at practice: Yakupov-RNH-Eberle, Hall-Gagner-Perron, Hendricks-Gordon-Joensuu, Gazdic-Smyth-Jones— Chris Wescott (@TheChrisWescott) March 8, 2014
Jeff Petry (back) is skating with the team.
Freshly recalled Oscar Klefbom is on the ice skating, wearing number 84.
There is no sign of recalled forward Anton Lander at the start of practice, however Lander played last night for Oklahoma City which could be the cause of his early absence.
Edmonton Oilers, and just all around, great Wayne Gretzky was on hand during the game tonight. Gretzky spoke to the media at Rexall Place during the Oilers game against the Islanders.
Gretzky was asked about General Manager Craig MacTavish and what he thought about the team this season and where they are headed. 99 had some very positive remarks on MacTavish.
“In this day and age like every other era, winning is hard,” Gretzky said. “It’s not an easy formula. You can’t just throw the best young players together and say, okay now we’re going to win a championship. From my experience with being in hockey over the years that I’ve been involved… when you get a guy like Craig who I played with, I watched coach, I watched him scout and now he’s the general manager… He has a lot of integrity and he knows the game and he understands what it takes to bring a team together.
“If you’re looking at it from that point of view, this is really his first year. I just have nothing but the upmost respect for him as a person, as a teammate, as a friend and I hope nothing but the best for him. Nobody likes to lose. People ask me all the time, what do you think is wrong with the Oilers? And I always say the same thing. I can’t give you an honest opinion because I’ve seen five games and it’s not fair for me to sit here and say okay, they should do this or they should do that. They’re in good hands. Craig is a wonderful man and he cares and he wants this team to be successful and I think he’ll make this team successful.”
The Edmonton Oilers are in last place in the Western Conference and the fans have shared in the organization’s frustrations this season.
Wayne Gretzky was in attendance for tonight’s game against the Islanders and the ex-Oiler talked about the fan frustrations and acknowledged that he isn’t surprised by the reactions in Edmonton.
“Not at all,” Gretzky said. “People want to win… From my point of view, as a friend, it hurts me too. I have nothing but good things to say about everyone who’s still involved in this organization. But we all understand as players and as athletes and as ex-players, what the fans are feeling. They want to win. This is a very proud city, it’s a storied franchise. Although it’s relatively young, it’s still a great franchise with a lot of history and people want to see it be successful.
“This was sort of their coming out year, after all the first picks, that this was the year that the sort of 7th or 8th spot… And after the start that they got off, it was like okay, where are we going here? But listen, Kevin (Lowe) and Craig (MacTavish), the people here.. They care and hurt as much as the fans hurt. They want to win and I think Craig is going to be a tremendous general manager, I really do.”
Newcomer Viktor Fasth is expected to come in and provide not only goalie depth for the Edmonton Oilers but also some fiery competition for Ben Scrivens. Fasth was acquired in a trade with Anaheim on Tuesday for a 5th round pick in 2014 and a 3rd round pick in 2015. This trade came one day after Scrivens signed his two-year contract with the team. The Oilers feel their goalie tandem his solidified for the immediate future with two good options.
Fasth is very familiar with Scrivens, who is a former Los Angeles Kings netminder. The two each played for NHL teams based in California, making them rivals at one point.
“We were enemies when he played with the Kings,” Fasth joked today. “No, I know he’s a good goalie and he’s a great guy so I’m glad to meet him here and hopefully we can push each other to create big things.”
Fasth is eager to begin pushing Scrivens and provide competition to the Oilers roster.
“As a goalie, that’s what you want to give the team. That’s what you play for every day. You want to help out the team and play as solid as possible. But it’s a team sport. I mean, as a goalie, you rely on the players as well as the players rely on you. We all have to stick together and play for each other.”
Head Coach Dallas Eakins said that he told Fasth to prepare for his first start to be on Sunday, against the Kings. However, that is not set in stone.
Ryan Smyth is still a member of the Edmonton Oilers. But yesterday, prior to the NHL trade deadline, Smyth’s situation was in doubt. Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish said that the Oilers explored trading Smyth to a cup contender so that he may have the opportunity at playing in the playoffs and making a run at a championship.
However, any possible trade did not occur and Smyth will lace up the skates tonight for the Oilers. That’s not a bad thing for Smyth, who says he loves the city and wants to eventually make Edmonton his family’s home after hockey.
“Emotional,” Smyth said of yesterday’s experience. “Obviously, I’m still wearing an Oilers uniform so that’s a good thing. Mac and I had a discussion, as you guys have known from his report. He was going to try and get me to a contender and I appreciated that but it didn’t work out. I came back here for a reason. Obviously, it was to be in the playoffs and in the hunt but that hasn’t happened in the last three years. As a player, you want to have that opportunity and Mac gave me that opportunity, or tried to, but it didn’t succeed.”
The Oilers newest goaltender Viktor Fasth has arrived in Edmonton and is on the ice for his first morning skate with the team.