THE TEAM TODAY: Response Time

Injury-riddled Oilers recall Mark Arcobello; Ben Eager nears a return to the lineup

Tuesday, 05.02.2013 / 4:45 PM
Ryan Dittrick  - edmontonoilers.com

EDMONTON - Looking to put the sting of a 3-2 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks behind them, the Oilers got right back to work Tuesday afternoon with an optional, 45-minute practice at the Russ Barnes Arena.

Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Smyth, Sam Gagner, Ales Hemsky, Ladislav Smid, Jeff Petry, Nick Schultz, Corey Potter, Devan Dubnyk, Eric Belanger (foot), Mark Fistric (back) and Shawn Horcoff (broken knuckle) did not participate.

Ryan Jones (eye) did skate and is getting closer to a return.

Fistric is listed as day-to-day and Belanger could be back by the weekend, but Horcoff is expected to miss a considerable amount of time (3-4+ weeks).

"It's a setback, but it's also an opportunity for us to get to know what we're made of, what we have and who can step up," said Head Coach Ralph Krueger. "The compete, the battle level and reaction to it last night was good. Let's see how we can continue to grow in this challenge. Shawn Horcoff is someone we'll not only miss in his role that he plays, but also in what he brings to the dressing room.

"Shawn will still be around the team, but not when it counts, in the games. Not between periods. It's a good time for us to get to know what we're made of and to come together around this. Situations like this let us see our colours."

As a result, the Oilers announced that Mark Arcobello had been recalled from the AHL's Oklahoma City Barons. The 5-foot-9, 165-pound pivot has collected 14 goals and 39 points in 43 games with the Barons this season.

"Strictly for us at the moment, [Arcobello is] the best player down in Oklahoma City," Krueger said. "How this all comes together tomorrow, we'll let you know in the morning. I need to process what our options are.

"He's had a lot of experience in playing with the kids, so we'll see how that plays out."

The 24-year-old Yale graduate primarily played on a line with Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle during the lockout. In the month of December when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins participated in Team Canada's National Junior Selection Camp and then the 2013 World Junior Championship, Arcobello put up 17 points in 11 games.

The Oilers entertained the thought of calling up Chris VandeVelde instead, but Arcobello's versatility and secondary scoring punch was an asset the club wanted most.

"We're rewarding him for his hard work in Oklahoma City," Krueger said. "Overall, he's been a consistent player down there and gives us the option to play him as a winger and at centre."

Prior to signing a contract with the Oilers/Barons in the spring of 2011, Arcobello scored seven goals and 20 points in 33 games with the Oilers' ECHL affiliate, the Stockton Thunder. Before that, he played four seasons in the NCAA with the Yale University Bulldogs, appearing in 131 games and recording 116 points (49 goals and 67 assists).

Just last week, Arcobello played in the 2013 AHL All-Star Classic and recorded three assists, including one on the game-winning goal with only 12 seconds to play.

EAGER TO RETURN

Oilers winger Ben Eager has been out of commission since the club's 3-2 shootout win over the Vancouver Canucks on opening night. No. 55 fought Canucks forward Zack Kassian late in the game and was the recipient of a punch square on the button that resulted in a concussion.

Eager missed three games at the start of last season with a concussion he suffered in training camp when Kirill Tulupov laid a hit on him in the annual Joey Moss Cup intrasquad game.

After ditching the yellow, non-contact sweater at Tuesday's practice, Eager hopes to get back in the lineup for Wednesday's game against the Dallas Stars.

"It's not really in my hands right now," he said. "I'm trying to show I'm ready to play and we'll go from there.

"It was a tough start (to the season), but it's been nice to get back out onto the ice with the guys. I feel as good as I've felt in a long time. I got my bell rung a little bit, but it wasn't too bad. We were being extra cautious with it because I've had some (concussion) issues in the past, but I'm looking forward to getting back."

PAINFUL LESSONS

Krueger described the Oilers' 6-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks in the home opener as a "painful" lesson. The club learned from it and responded accordingly by winning three of its next four.

Monday night at Rexall Place, the Oilers had the Canucks on the ropes but couldn't seal the deal. As a result, the Oilers are now losers of three straight.

"It was a situation where that called for experience," Krueger said. "It called for an understanding of what needed to be done to bring home a game. In that pain of last night -- and it was such a passionate, emotional game and, at the end, an emotional loss -- something could have been triggered in the younger players. We let the lead slip away and then lost it in overtime, really, on positional errors on our part. If they grow from that, we become stronger and we lost a point because of it, maybe it will help us in the big picture.

"To be a playoff team in this League, to be a competitor, one of the things that's critical is to understand the score and to understand the management of it. We can talk about it, we can show video of it, but until you experience it, truly nothing replaces the experience.

"We got some very good experience last night with the pain."

-- Ryan Dittrick, edmontonoilers.com | Follow me on Twitter @ryandittrick

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