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Posted On Wednesday, 01.29.2014 / 3:32 PM

By Derek Van Diest - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Eakins seeing gradual improvement in Oilers

EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers are putting a two-game win streak on the line Wednesday against the San Jose Sharks.

The Oilers won two straight for the fourth time this season with a 4-2 victory against the Vancouver Canucks on Monday. They've only managed one three-game win streak this season.

"You can feel it starting to tilt the last couple of games leading up to getting out of that [losing] streak, where the chances-against weren't so high," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "I thought we exited our zone much better the last couple of games, our goaltending was excellent. Any time you can exit that zone cleanly it adds up to more offensive-zone time, which has been critical."

Prior to beating the Nashville Predators and the Canucks, the Oilers had been on a six-game winless skid.

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Posted On Sunday, 01.26.2014 / 2:49 PM

By Derek Van Diest - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Oilers to face Predators without injured captain

EDMONTON -- Edmonton Oilers captain Andrew Ference will miss his first game of the season Sunday against the Nashville Predators. Ference sustained a head injury in a 4-3 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes on Friday night.

"He took a shot in the head and they're evaluating him," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "He's going to be greatly missed. He's our captain and competes extremely hard every night. He's being playing against the other team's top lines a lot. That's a big hole to fill and the whole group will have to pick up his minutes and what he brings."

The Oilers are also still without right wing Ales Hemsky, who is recovering from a bone bruise in his foot after blocking a shot Jan. 14 against the Dallas Stars. Hemsky has been practicing with the team, but is still not cleared to play and will miss his fifth consecutive game.

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Posted On Friday, 01.24.2014 / 3:26 PM

By Derek Van Diest - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Coyotes' Hanzal, Oilers' Yakupov likely to return

EDMONTON -- Martin Hanzal and Nail Yakupov are each expected to draw back into his respective lineup Friday night when the Edmonton Oilers host the Phoenix Coyotes.

Hanzal has been out of the Coyotes' lineup for the past two games with a lower-body injury. The Coyotes have lost both games without him.

"It looks like he'll be back in," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "It'll come down to game time, but he practiced all right and there were no indications that he took a step back, so that's a good sign.

"He's a big guy that plays in all situations. He's a big, hard guy to play against and obviously him and Radim Vrbata have teamed up to be a good pair for us. It's a really noticeable difference when he's out of our lineup. When he steps back in, and continues to play the way that he has been the last couple of months, it will be a big positive for us."

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.21.2014 / 4:02 PM

By Derek Van Diest - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Canucks coping without Henrik Sedin, Tortorella

EDMONTON -- The Vancouver Canucks will be missing their captain and coach Tuesday night against the Edmonton Oilers.

For the first time in nearly 10 years, Henrik Sedin will not suit up for Vancouver, bringing a consecutive games streak of 679 to an end.

Sedin is out with a rib injury. His brother, Daniel Sedin, is the only member of the Canucks to know what it's like not having him in the lineup.

"I'm the only guy in this room that has ever played a game without him," Daniel Sedin said. "All the other guys have never played a game without him. It's going to be different, but like with any other injury, you need guys to step up and that's what we're looking for [Tuesday].

"Everyone knows what he can do and he's going to be missed, but other guys have to step up and fill that spot."

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Posted On Friday, 01.10.2014 / 4:06 PM

By Derek Van Diest - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Oilers give new look with Gagner at right wing

EDMONTON -- Edmonton Oilers center Sam Gagner will play right wing Friday night against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Gagner will skate on the Oilers first line with left wing Taylor Hall and center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. It's the first time this season Gagner has not played at center.

"It's a lot of different things, it's not only Sam," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "We look at how we want to match up [Friday]. I think it also allows us to have two centermen on that line and it allows them to take the draws on their strong side.

"Sam has played wing in the past and had some success there. He was very open to the idea, that's something I talked to him about, just to get a feel if he was hesitant or not. He was all-in on it, and I think it just gives us a different look. Now we firmly have three lines that can do some damage. Each line, the way it's set up, should be able to score."

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.07.2014 / 4:42 PM

By Derek Van Diest - Correspondent / - Road to Sochi blog

Calls bring different news for Bouwmeester, Hall

EDMONTON -- St. Louis Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester and Edmonton Oilers left wing Taylor Hall each received a phone call from Hockey Canada on Tuesday morning.

One brought good news, the other bad as the Canadian Olympic team selections were announced in Toronto.

Bouwmeester, who was left off the Olympic team four years ago in Vancouver, will be on the squad heading to Sochi, Russia in February. Hall will not.

"It's pretty exciting stuff," Bouwmeester said. "It wasn't something I was thinking about or worried about, there are a lot of real good players. I've been on the other side, looking in and it's not a lot of fun.

"It's a great opportunity and it's something that if you have the chance to be a part of, it's something special and it's something you want to take advantage of."

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.07.2014 / 3:30 PM

By Derek Van Diest - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Oilers hope for partial repeat of past game vs. Blues

EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers took it on the chin last time they hosted the St. Louis Blues.

Despite being shut out 6-0 on Dec. 21, there were positives in the loss to take into the return engagement Tuesday at Rexall Place.

The Oilers outshot the Blues 14-5 in the first period of that game before the wheels fell off in the second and third periods.

"We need to stick with that game plan that we had in that first period right through the game," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "We've run into that a few times this season where we had the game plan going, everything is great and maybe we haven't scored or maybe even the other team is up 1-0.

"We have a tendency to say, 'That's not working,' but it is if we're out-chancing them terribly and we're spending very little time in our zone. We have to just do this for the full 60 minutes, and it may take until the 57th minute to break them but you can't come off it."

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Posted On Sunday, 01.05.2014 / 2:51 PM

By Derek Van Diest - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Eberle returns to Oilers' top line

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers (13-26-5) are shaking up their top line in an effort to snap a four-game losing skid.

Jordan Eberle returns to the Oilers' lineup Sunday against the Tampa Bay Lightning (25-12-4) at Rexall Place and will skate alongside Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on the top line.

Eberle missed the 5-2 loss against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday with a knee injury he sustained the previous game in a collision with San Jose Sharks center Logan Couture.

"I just tried to step up and hit him and I felt my knee tweak a bit," Eberle said. "I think because of the adrenaline of the game I felt alright to play [and finish the game]. The next day was when it hit me and it was really sore. It's tough to sit out, but I'm happy to be back."

Prior to the injury, Eberle had been playing on the Oilers second line with Sam Gagner and Nail Yakupov.

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Posted On Saturday, 12.28.2013 / 3:58 PM

By Derek Van Diest - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Oilers' Bryzgalov gets first shot at Flyers since buyout

EDMONTON -- Ilya Bryzgalov will be looking for a measure of revenge when the Edmonton Oilers host the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night at Rexall Place.

The Oilers goaltender is facing his former team for the first time since being bought out this offseason, two years into a nine-year, $51 million contract.

Bryzgalov signed with the Oilers as a free agent on Nov. 8 and has played in eight games.

"Bryzgalov has been excellent for us," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "Obviously not being in the Philadelphia organization, you read things and you hear things and you see all of this talk. It seems like it's been the exact opposite here from what went on there.

"He's been a good teammate and a pleasure to coach. He's been stopping the puck fairly well. We've had absolutely no problems at all."

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Posted On Monday, 12.23.2013 / 2:59 PM

By Derek Van Diest - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Oilers to play Perron, Hall together against Jets

EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers are putting two of their best players together in an effort to snap a six-game winless streak.

Against the Winnipeg Jets on Monday, the Oilers will use David Perron and Taylor Hall on the same line for the first time this season.

"It's interesting. It's the first time I get a chance to play with [Hall] in 35 games," Perron said. "I'm interested to see what's going to happen. I'm excited about it. He's obviously a guy that you can give the puck to in the neutral zone and he can use his speed through the zone. That's something I'm going to try to do. We've already talked about how we want to play in the offensive zone, moving the puck quickly and working hard in the corners."

Perron and Hall have been two of the Oilers' best offensive forwards this season.

Acquired in a trade from the St. Louis Blues during the offseason, Perron has 14 goals and 13 assists in 34 games. Hall leads the team in scoring with 13 goals and 17 assists.

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Quote of the Day

There's no discouragement in that room. There's no issues there at all to be honest with you. It's more about, 'Hey, it's opportunities for players.' And if we become that bad of a team because of one player, it's not a real good sign for our hockey club. So this is part of sports. It's part of hockey.

— Bruins coach Claude Julien on the loss of Zdeno Chara to injury
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