MORNING SKATE REPORT: Oilers at Wild
Injury updates and more as the Oilers skate in preparation for the Wild tonight
|TV: Sportsnet Oilers (HD)
RADIO: 630 CHED & Oilers Radio Network
PUCK DROP: 6:08 p.m. MT
AT THE MORNING SKATESAINT PAUL, MN - The Oilers took part in a full-team morning skate on Sunday prior to tonight's contest against the Minnesota Wild.
Taylor Hall (leg) and Mark Fistric (elbow) did not skate.
"Taylor's still feeling a strain in his leg that we want to err to the cautious side of this type of injury. We're seeing four days of rest versus forcing him in today," said Oilers head coach Ralph Krueger. "It's day-to-day where we expect him back really soon."
Krueger did remark that there has been improvement in Hall's status since Friday.
"He's definitely better today than yesterday but with those types of injuries we've learned it's better to take those four days versus one. We're certain it will help him when coming back 100%. There's no need to force him into games with soft tissue injuries."
The Oilers mixed up their lines for the skate, going with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins between Ales Hemsky and Nail Yakupov and Magnus Paajarvi with Jordan Eberle and Sam Gagner as the top two units.
"The decision on Taylor Hall was just before practice so we just threw some lines together there, but Magnus coming in fresh right now on this road trip -- anybody coming in fresh, last game Whitney and Peckham -- he's able to play both specialty teams and bring some speed into whatever line he's on tonight so it's good to see Maggie back in there. You can feel the depth chart this year being stronger than in the past. We feel comfortable with players coming in and being able to hold our level."
Paajarvi was excited for the chance to step back into an offensive role.
"It'll be awesome to play with Gags and Ebs. I'm just going to play my game, the way I've been doing lately," said Paajarvi. "I need to be a little bit more physical, using my speed for almost everything -- backchecking, forechecking, creating offence and hopefully score goals. That's pretty much it, just keep that going and don't think too much."
Another player looking forward to taking the ice tonight is Nick Schultz, facing his old team at the Xcel Energy Center for the first time since being traded to the Oilers at the deadline last season just over one calendar year ago.
"It's a little strange after being here 10 or 11 years, walking into the same room so being on the other side feels a little different but I'm excited to get back out there. A lot of great memories playing in the building."
Schultz spent 10 years in Minnesota and is the Wild's all-time leader in games played.
WINNING IN MINNY
The Oilers have had a rough go of it in Minnesota with only one win in their last 19 games at the Xcel Energy Center but they did snap the Wild's 17-game home win streak last season on November 25.
Nick Schultz was on the other side for that one.
"Certain teams you just kind of have that luck against in certain buildings. Teams seem to be snakebite a bit and Edmonton seemed to have that coming in here," he said. "It seems every team has a building that they have a tough time winning against. I don't know what it was, but Edmonton getting that win last year hopefully turned the tide a little bit."
Good news for the Oilers on the injury front was that Corey Potter and Teemu Hartikainen returned to the ice as they try and recover from their respective injuries.
"With Potter and Hartikainen on the ice today those are positive signs. Corey's head injury is obviously not of the serious type. His injury is more like the Lennart Petrell one where he felt okay to skate today. We would not have him out there if he wasn't," said Krueger. "Corey Potter is nearing a possible return and that's important for us to have seven defencemen ready to go on this trip."
Hartikainen hadn't skated since injuring his shoulder in the game against Phoenix.
"With Hartikainen he was cleared to do things with his shoulder that he hasn't been able to do so we were very pleased to see those two bodies back on the ice here this morning."
Krueger added that the team isn't in any short-term need of placing any player on injured reserve.
"We have no need for that this moment. With Potter looking ready to come in as a potential backup we have no need to make any IR moves and Fistric is improving also. He could have a quick curve there. The bleeding is being moved a little from that area. He's feeling a little bit of movement this morning so we still see it as something that could evolve very quickly."
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com
NHL.COM GAME PREVIEW
OILERS (8-8-4) at WILD (10-8-2)
TV: SNET-EDM, FS-N, FS-WI
Last 10: Edmonton 4-5-1, Minnesota 6-3-1.
Season series: This will be the second of four meetings. The Wild prevailed 3-1 in their first contest this season on Feb. 21.
Big story: Both the Wild and Oilers are looking for their first victory in the month of March as they also battle for precious points in the Northwest Division standings. The two teams are neck-and-neck, with the Wild notching 22 points in 20 games and the Oilers notching 20 points in that same span.
Oilers: The Oilers are looking to bounce back from a 4-2 loss to the Blues on Friday after giving up a two-goal lead that was earned in the first period and allowing St. Louis to score four unanswered goals. The Oilers also lost winger Taylor Hall in the second period to an undisclosed leg injury and he is currently listed as day-to-day.
"It was a good road game after the first period," Oilers coach Ralph Krueger said. "You're feeling quite confident. It's just disappointing that we really allowed them back into the game with a turnover. It was what we gave them, really. They came strong, they came hard from then on."
Wild: Minnesota is hoping to build off of the effort they put into the third period of Friday’s 3-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks in which they bounced back with two goals in the frame.
“We had chances to get the third one, too," coach Mike Yeo said. "We just couldn't buy it. I was real impressed with the effort of our guys.
"I didn't think our first period was good. We have to start better against good teams. We are sort of in between on some plays and not as aggressive as we need to be. But once we got it going, we were good."
That game was a back-to-back effort following a 4-3 win against the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday, so Minnesota hopes the Saturday break will be enough to re-energize as they take on a division rival.
Who's hot: Ales Hemsky leads the Oilers in goals this season with eight and has notched three points in his past two games. Devin Setoguchi has notched five points in as many games, including a three-game point streak and a goal in the Wild’s 3-2 loss to the Ducks.
Injury report: Hall is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Also listed as day-to-day are defenseman Corey Potter (head) and goalie Nikolai Khabibulin (groin) … Minnesota’s Cal Clutterbuck is day-to-day with a thigh injury and goalie Josh Harding is also listed as day-to-day (illness).
- Deb Francisco, NHL.com Staff