OILERS vs. BLUE JACKETS:
AT THE MORNING SKATE
The Oilers took to the ice for morning skate Thursday with two notable absentees: Theo Peckham and Ales Hemsky.
Following a fight during Sunday night's game vs the Bruins, Peckham continues to suffer from concussion-like symptoms and, as a result, call-up Richard Petiot continues to fill his spot on the blue line.
The injury bug has also hit Hemsky, who suffered a shoulder injury midway through Tuesday night's game vs. Nashville.
"There's nothing that traumatic, but it is involving the rotator cuff," head coach Tom Renney explained. "It looks like it's going to be two to three weeks. We're not 100% sure."
The coach said a second MRI next week should clarify Hemky's timeline for return. "Obviously we hope sooner rather than later, but that's as much as I can tell you now."
With Dustin Penner's trade on Monday and Hemsky's injury Tuesday, Edmonton's remaining forwards have the opportunity to prove they can contribute at a high level.
"I think it's a chance for a lot of guys to step up and fill in different roles here with those two guys gone," Gilbert Brule said. "They're huge components, obviously, to our team, but I'm definitely excited to be on the power-play and get a chance there."
With Hemsky's injury, Renney has had to shuffle the lines once again. On the top line, Taylor Hall, Shawn Horcoff, and Jordan Eberle will be reunited.
"Horc and Ebs, we've played together for a long time and hopefully it works out," Taylor Hall commented. "Horc's always been fun for me to play with and we've always had pretty good chemistry."
Renney admitted injuries have challenged his ability to balance the lines, but he emphasized that the team's identity lies not in line combinations but on-ice effort.
"It becomes increasingly difficult as players fall by the wayside, but again it is about our identity and no identity matters if you don't work," he said.
"I hate the fact that this is a cliche, but it is: We have to take our games one at a time and be the best team that we possibly can, hopefully the better team on the ice that night, for all the right reasons and not because we had just great goaltending, or our power-play scored one finally, or we might have been outshot tremendously but we got a timely goal. We just want to play a complete game and we want to do that 18 times, and then we'll evaluate where we are beyond that."
BATTLING THE BLUE JACKETS
Edmonton's next immediate test is Columbus.
"They're going to come hard, we know that, so we're going to have to really navigate this game quickly in terms of retrieving pucks and moving it past their forecheck and forcing them to have to maybe adjust their game plan," Renney said. "We have to play to our strengths, and one of them is quick puck-movement and using our speed."
Devan Dubnyk will be responsible for Oilers netminding tonight. After watching last game from the bench, the 24-year-old is eager to get back between the pipes.
"I've always said I've got to continue to earn my spot in there, and it would be great to get that many more games in and that much more experience building to next year, obviously," he said. "I just want to continue what's been going on and continue to feel good in the net and work on all those little things that are just going to make me better going on. Every opportunity, however many it is, between now and the end of the year is a great opportunity for me."
Renney understands the importance of Dubnyk's development.
"We have to play him. He's got to get opportunity to play and we've got to continue to develop him like we would any of our skaters."
OILERS 4 - BLUE JACKETS 2
42 penalty minutes, two fights, and six goals highlighted an action-packed contest in which the Oilers emerged victorious, defeating the Blue Jackets 4-2 on Fan Appreciation Night at Rexall Place.
But it wasn't all good news for Edmonton: after registering a Gordie Hall hat trick with a goal, assist, and fight, Taylor Hall suffered a left ankle injury and had to leave the game early.
Author: Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com, with files from Tom Gazzola & Bob Stauffer