THE TEAM TODAY: Back on the Ice
BACK ON THE ICEEDMONTON - The Oilers practiced at Rexall Place on Wednesday a day before their departure for Denver, where they will play the Avalanche on Friday night.
The team went with some different line combinations partly due to the absence of Lennart Petrell who left Tuesday's game with a high ankle sprain.
The team had the line of Taylor Hall, Sam Gagner and Nail Yakupov back together.
"Both Yak and Hallsy are so dynamic and they do so many good things out there. They really push the pace with their speed and they're both one-shot scorers. So for me, being a playmaker and a guy that likes to slow the play down I think it's a great fit for me," said Gagner. "We had a chance at it last game and we created some things but not enough. I think the more we get a chance to play together, the more we're going to develop that chemistry. I think it has all the ingredients to be a great line. It's just a matter of us putting it together."
Gagner said that he feels that the line can be an infusion of energy for the club at a time when they need it the most.
"It's tough at this time of year being out of the playoff race again. It's frustrating. You've got to find ways to bring energy all the time. These are the times when you really find out about yourself as a player and person and build that winning foundation for the future," he began.
"Our line can inject that energy, play with passion and try and create chances and score some goals for this team. It's really going to help us and hopefully we can continue to build on the things we've been doing and continue to get better."
Magnus Paajarvi skated with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle. Ryan Jones was with Ryan Smyth and Teemu Hartikainen with Anton Lander subbing in. Shawn Horcoff and Eric Belanger subbed in on a line with Jerred Smithson and Mike Brown.
Justin Schultz was named the AHL Defenceman of the Year today. Despite not playing in Oklahoma City since January 5th, Schultz' 48 points, 18 goals and 19.6 percent shooting percentage is still tops among AHL defencemen.
"It was great for me to be down there with guys that are up here now," said Schultz. "It made the adjustment a little easier for me. The award is pretty cool to get. It's obviously a great league."
Schultz did much of his scoring for the Barons on special teams. Of his 48 points, 25 of them (7G, 18A) came with the man advantage. Heading into the Barons last weekend of the season, Schultz' 25 power play points still leads the team. Mark Arcobello is second on the club with 24 power-play points (6G, 18A). Schultz also accounted for two of the Barons five shorthanded goals on the season.
"It would have been tougher at the start for sure," Schultz said of the transition to the NHL. "Playing with those guys made it more comfortable for me to come up here. I felt comfortable from the start."
This marks the third postseason award Schultz has earned. He was named to the All-Rookie Team and was named a First Team AHL All Star last week. He also earned CCM / AHL Player of the Month honours for October and CCM / AHL Rookie of the Month honours for November.
"It was a blessing in disguise that I got to go there," he added.
Schultz is the only rookie to ever win the award.
"That's pretty cool. We had a great team down there. I've got to give a lot of credit to them to help me make that adjustment to pro hockey. It was a great time for me to play down there."
A hit from Cal Clutterbuck resulted in an injury to Lennart Petrell on Tuesday. Coach Krueger said on Wednesday that the winger was out with a high ankle sprain.
"It's a high ankle injury," said Krueger. "It's not broken. It's a high ankle injury strain which needs generally more than a week so it will be very questionable for him here going forward whether we can get him back. It's a minimum one week injury."
The injury could be season ending for Petrell but that's only because there is so little time left in the season.
"I have not heard anything about tear or break or anything. It's a high-ankle sprain which midseason you'd say he's out three or four games. With the pace we're on right now, it's going to be difficult to get Lennart back."
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com