MORNING SKATE REPORT: Oilers at Ducks
Hemsky out due to injury, Potter out; Jones and Fistric return to the lineup. Schultz talks Ducks and more from the morning skate.
|TV: Sportsnet Oilers (HD)
RADIO: 630 CHED & Oilers Radio Network
PUCK DROP: 8:08 p.m. MT
AT THE MORNING SKATEANAHEIM - The Edmonton Oilers skated this morning at the Honda Center ahead of tonight's four-game road trip conclusion against the Anaheim Ducks.
The big news from the morning skate was the fact that Ales Hemsky did not participate and Oilers head coach Ralph Krueger pronounced him as a scratch for the game.
Ales is a scratch for tonight," said Krueger. "He has a foot injury that we're managing and will be day-to-day from here."
Krueger stated that the Hemsky injury is something the team has been managing for the past few weeks.
"It has been a foot injury and once again it's just something we're going to manage day-to-day here."
Ryan Jones draws back in after missing Saturday's contest and will skate alongside Ryan Smyth and Shawn Horcoff. The other three lines up front remain in tact: Hall-Nugent-Hopkins-Eberle, Paajarvi-Gagner-Yakupov and Petrell-Smithson-Brown.
"This is a game that's calling for experiences and calling for nothing but an outstanding team game. Anton (Lander) could fill that role but we know that Jonesy coming off missing the last game is fresh and can bring that element of compete and element of fight that we're going to need tonight."
The other lineup change for the team is Mark Fistric drawing back in after missing the past seven games as a healthy extra.
"Mark Fistric is coming in. Corey Potter coming out. It's an opportunity to bring a player in who can stop cycles. That's something they're very good at," Krueger remarked. "And add some physicality to the group."
Fistric added that he's looking forward to getting back on the ice.
"It's a great challenge," he said of coming back against the Western Conference's number-two team. "I think it's just a matter of limiting their cycle time in the offensive zone and making sure that they can't spend a lot of extended time in our zone."
The blueliner added that it's been tough to watch on the sidelines but he understood the position coach Krueger was in with the team on such a strong run of wins.
"It's mixed emotions. You want to be a part of it and you feel like you're not but the team's getting wins and that's what matters the most, that there's two points there to grab and we get them."
Devan Dubnyk gets the start in goal tonight.
Former Ducks draft pick Justin Schultz makes his first return to the Honda Center since deciding to leave Anaheim for the Oilers in the offseason as a free agent.
"I'll probably hear some boos, I don't know, we'll see. It should be interesting," said Schultz. "This is probably the last obstacle. It's tough but it's going to be a good game tonight."
Schultz added that the focus should really be on tonight's game, which is a huge one in the standings for the Oilers in the tough Western Conference.
"This is the biggest game of the year for us," he said. "It's like playoff hockey now. We're fighting for our lives and it's almost like a must-win tonight."
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com
NHL.COM GAME PREVIEW
TV: SNET-EDM, PRIME
Last 10: Edmonton 5-4-1; Anaheim 4-5-1
Season series: This is the first of three meetings, with two games in Edmonton on April 21-22.
Big story: This is the first game for Edmonton defenseman Justin Schultz against Anaheim, the team that drafted him in No. 43 in 2008. Schultz did not sign with the Ducks and joined the Oilers as a free agent this summer.
Oilers: Schultz told the Orange County Register that having this game so late in the season "might make it a little easier," but the rookie is unsure how he'll be received at Honda Center.
"I don't know," Schultz said. "We'll see when game time comes. Whatever happens, it is what it is."
The 22-year-old has six goals and 14 assists, playing all 38 games this season. He had five points in his first four games, and has five in his past five. Schultz leads the team with 3:16 per game on the power play.
"It was just me having the option to be a free agent and choose where I wanted to play, and I saw an opportunity in Edmonton," Schultz said. "I don't regret making that decision."
Defenseman Mark Fistric will be back in the lineup for the first time since March 25, coach Ralph Krueger said.
Ducks: Perhaps the appearance of Schultz can help Anaheim avoid a letdown after a standing-room crowd watched a see-saw 4-3 shootout win against the rival Los Angeles Kings on Sunday night.
"People wouldn't call it playoff hockey because there were too many goals, but I tell you there were two teams that were giving everything they had," coach Bruce Boudreau told Fox Sports. "And they didn't leave anything on the ice. It was as fast a paced game as we've played in a while."
Goalie Viktor Fasth faced 38 shots, plus two in the shootout.
"It was amazing, the whole atmosphere, you could really feel it on the ice," Fasth said. "It was a special game, but we have to enjoy this tonight and tomorrow we have to focus on the next game."
The Ducks played their second game in a row without captain Ryan Getzlaf, who has a lower-body injury. It's unknown if he'll be ready Monday.
"He's important for our team, but the other guys have to step forward and show that they can lead the team too," Fasth said. "Of course we hope to get him back as soon as possible."
Who's hot: Ducks forward Matt Beleskey and defenseman Sheldon Souray have four points each in the past four games, and forward Andrew Cogliano has four points in five. … Edmonton is one of two teams (St. Louis Blues) ranked in the top 10 in both power play and penalty kill. The Oilers are third in power-play success (23.2 percent) and ninth in penalty kill (83.4). Forward Taylor Hall had 10 points in three games prior to two scoreless. Forward Nail Yakupov has five points in his past four games.
Injury report: Ducks forward Nick Bonino (lower body) is on injured reserve. Goalie Jonas Hiller (illness) returned to back up Viktor Fasth on Sunday. … Oilers forward Eric Belanger (groin) is on injured reserve.
-- Mike Battaglino - NHL.com Staff Writer