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Posted On Saturday, 04.12.2014 / 3:24 PM

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

Oilers face Canucks in Smyth's final game

EDMONTON — It was business as usual for Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Smyth on Saturday morning as he prepared for his final NHL game.

Smyth announced Friday he would be retiring at the end of the Oilers' season, which ends Saturday night against the Vancouver Canucks.

"I'm just going to try and keep the emotions in check and try to take it all in," Smyth said. "Everything was normal [Saturday morning] as far as taking part in the drills and stuff, but you look up at the rafters and you see all the banners of the Cups and the banners of the guys who have retired, so it's pretty special.

"It's a great building to play in and I'm really looking forward to [Saturday night]."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.10.2014 / 2:34 PM

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

Oilers get one final crack at figuring out Kings

EDMONTON -- Though the argument can be made the Edmonton Oilers have struggled against a lot of NHL teams this season, the Los Angeles Kings have been a particularly problematic opponent.

The Oilers have lost all three games to the Kings this season; they play each other a final time Thursday.

"I find L.A. to be, for our group, the most difficult of the bunch," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said.
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Posted On Tuesday, 04.08.2014 / 4:13 PM

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

Oilers envious of Avalanche's quick turnaround

EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers are going into their game against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday with a bit of envy.

The Avalanche are where the Oilers hoped they would be this season.

A year ago Colorado was at the bottom of the NHL standings and selected first at the 2013 NHL Draft.

This season the Avalanche are going to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the Oilers, with three No. 1 picks on their roster, are heading back to the draft lottery.

"They built the same way we did as far as through the draft," Oilers right wing Jordan Eberle said. "They have a lot of young guys and they've been able to put it together as far as the wins go. When I look at that I'm for sure jealous. They're going to be in the playoffs and we're not. That being said, it's just another game [Tuesday] where we want to beat them and show we can play with them. They somehow found a way to do it and we have to do that."

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Posted On Sunday, 04.06.2014 / 2:58 PM

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

Oilers' Fasth gets second chance vs. former team

EDMONTON -- Edmonton Oilers goaltender Viktor Fasth is looking forward to another opportunity to play against his former team.

Fasth was in goal in a 3-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday and will get the start Sunday when the Oilers play the Ducks for the final time this season.

"It doesn't matter really what team you play, you want to win every game and that's why you play hockey," Fasth said. "That's what it's all about. Of course it's a special game, I've played with these guys [Ducks] for over a year. But it's still two points and it's a new game."

The Oilers acquired Fasth from the Ducks a day prior to the March 5 NHL Trade Deadline in exchange for a fifth-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft and a third-round pick in the 2015 draft.

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Posted On Sunday, 03.30.2014 / 2:18 PM

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

Oilers looking to continue success against East

EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers sometimes wonder how things could be different if they played in the Eastern Conference.

Geography has been detrimental to the Oilers this season. They've struggled against Western Conference opponents, but have held their own against Eastern Conference teams.

The Oilers host the New York Rangers on Sunday with a 14-13-4 record against the East and 5-0-2 in their past seven games against teams from the Metropolitan Division. They are 12-26-5 against teams in their own conference.

"I think the record speaks for itself," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "Where we're at with our size and our strength, most of the teams in the East are built with the same size and strength. That's with my eyes and the feel of the game, not going to look at the stats pages, not looking at the height and weights. But I just feel that the teams in our conference, that are all at the top of the League as well, are built much differently than most of the Eastern Conference teams and us."

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Posted On Friday, 03.28.2014 / 4:05 PM

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

Selanne ready for potential final game in Edmonton

EDMONTON -- Anaheim Ducks right wing Teemu Selanne could be playing his final game at Rexall Place on Friday night against the Edmonton Oilers.

Even though the Ducks have two road games left against the Oilers this season, Selanne is not expected to be in the lineup when Anaheim returns to Edmonton on April 6.

Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau has not dressed Selanne on back-to-back nights this season and it's expected the veteran wing will sit out the next game against the Oilers and instead play the following night against the Vancouver Canucks.

"I have a lot of memories here, especially the times that I was in Winnipeg," Selanne said. "We used to play the Oilers eight times a year. I've been in this building very often, it's always been a great building. First of all, the ice is the best in the League. It was a good rivalry between Winnipeg and Edmonton. It was a good time and good memories."

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.25.2014 / 3:17 PM

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

Oilers' Scrivens moves on from historic game

EDMONTON -- Edmonton Oilers goaltender Ben Scrivens is not one to live in the past.

Scrivens stopped all 59 shots he faced Jan. 29 against the San Jose Sharks, setting an NHL record for most saves in a regulation shutout.

Scrivens will start Tuesday when the Oilers play the Sharks. It's the first time the teams have met since his record-setting effort.

"Honestly, it was a fun game to play in, but that game is behind us," Scrivens said. "We have a game [Tuesday] and I'm not going to be thinking about games in the past, whether it was last night or the last time we played them. It's a game that happened in the past. I'm moving forward."

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Posted On Saturday, 03.22.2014 / 3:37 PM

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

Oilers' Eberle, Flames' Berra set to return

EDMONTON — Edmonton Oilers right wing Jordan Eberle and Calgary Flames goaltender Karri Ramo will be back in the lineup Saturday night for the final installment of the Battle of Alberta.

Eberle missed a game Thursday against the Buffalo Sabres with a knee injury. Ramo has not played since sustaining a knee injury Feb. 1 against the Minnesota Wild.

"I feel good, I'm ready to go," Eberle said. "I think I just tweaked an old injury from before. It was good to take a couple days off. I probably wouldn't have been able to play against Buffalo, there was a lot of pain and probably would have hurt it even more. It was good to get a couple of days off and get it back to where I can feel that I can play."

Eberle is second in Oilers' scoring this season with 23 goals and 53 points. He scored two goals Tuesday against the Nashville Predators before being injured on his last shift of the game in a collision with Nashville center Mike Fisher.

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Posted On Thursday, 03.20.2014 / 3:36 PM

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

Oilers bring Pitlick back; Sabres to start Hackett

EDMONTON -- There will be plenty of new faces on display when the Edmonton Oilers host the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday.

With each team having sustained a rash of injuries, reinforcements have been called up to fill vacant roster spots.

The Oilers recalled right wing Tyler Pitlick and left wing Steve MacIntyre from the Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League for the game. They already have defenseman Oscar Klefbom and left wingAnton Lander up from their AHL affiliate.

Oilers right wing Jordan Eberle is out with a knee injury and left wing Matt Hendricks will be a game-time decision after stepping in front of a shot from Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber on Tuesday.

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.18.2014 / 3:36 PM

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

Oilers defenseman Klefbom set for home debut

EDMONTON -- Edmonton Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom had an opportunity to dip his toes in the water before taking the plunge in front of the hometown crowd.

Kelfbom made his NHL debut during a recent four-game road trip and will play his first game at Rexall Place on Tuesday against the Nashville Predators.

"It's been a very fun last couple of weeks," Klefbom said. "I haven't played a game here, but hopefully [Tuesday] will be a huge night for me and my career. I'm looking forward to it."

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Posted On Sunday, 03.09.2014 / 2:24 PM

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

Oilers' Scrivens to face Kings for first time since trade

EDMONTON -- Ben Scrivens bears no ill will towards the Los Angeles Kings.

Had it not been for his time in Los Angeles behind Jonathan Quick, Scrivens may not be in a situation to establish himself as a starting goaltender with the Edmonton Oilers.

Sunday night, when the Oilers play the Kings, Scrivens will face his former team for the first time since being traded to Edmonton. Quick will start in goal for Los Angeles.

"They gave me an opportunity to develop my game even further, so I'm extremely thankful for that," Scrivens said. "Both teams tried to make a move to make them a better team, so no hard feelings. I'm an Edmonton Oiler now and it's good to be home. I'm just going to try to play the game like I normally would."

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Posted On Thursday, 03.06.2014 / 3:52 PM

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

Islanders, Oilers turn focus to finishing strong

EDMONTON -- With the NHL Trade Deadline behind them, the Edmonton Oilers and New York Islanders have shifted their focus, trying to finishing disappointing seasons off strong.

The Oilers host the Islanders at Rexall Place on Thursday with each team out of the race for the Stanley Cup Playoffs and having traded away key players the day before. The Oilers traded forward Ales Hemsky to the Ottawa Senators while the Islanders made a late deal, sending forward Thomas Vanek to the Montreal Canadiens.

"We knew what the situation was going into the deadline," Islanders right wing Kyle Okposo said. "We knew who was going to move, although it's never an easy thing. Now that it's over, we can just kind of focus on playing."

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.04.2014 / 4:04 PM

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

Oilers, Senators waiting for chips to fall

EDMONTON -- With the NHL Trade Deadline approaching and the rumor mill swirling, there was uneasiness in both the Edmonton Oilers and Ottawa Senators dressing room Tuesday morning.

The Oilers executed a couple of trades following their morning skate, acquiring goaltender Viktor Fasth from the Anaheim Ducks, and then sending Ilya Bryzgalov to the Minnesota Wild.

The Oilers announced University of Alberta Golden Bears goalie Kurtis Mucha will dress as the backup. The Sherwood Park, Alberta native is doing his second tour of duty with an NHL team, after he filled in for the Boston Bruins during their practice in Edmonton earlier this season.

Earlier in the day, the Oilers also waived defenseman Corey Potter.

With the team out of the playoff race, other chips are expected to fall prior to the deadline Wednesday.

"You just have to go about your business," Oilers center Sam Gagner said. "I think for me, I feel like I can make improvements and that's what I'm focusing on right now.

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Posted On Saturday, 03.01.2014 / 3:18 PM

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

Oilers, Flames seek offense in Battle of Alberta

EDMONTON -- Goals have been hard to come by for the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames of late.

Both teams were shut out in their previous game, heading into the latest edition of the Battle of Alberta on Saturday night at Rexall Place.

The Oilers lost 3-0 against the Minnesota Wild, while the Flames were blanked 2-0 by the Los Angeles Kings.

"You're certainly hoping it was just rust, the way we played the last game," Oilers left wing David Perron said. "We'll take it as that, move forward and try to have a good one [Saturday].

"It's always fun playing against Calgary. It's a team we're trying to catch in the standings right now and they probably don't want to go where we are right now. So we have to get the two points."

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Posted On Thursday, 02.27.2014 / 3:28 PM

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

Oilers to play Hemsky at left wing alongside Gagner

EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers may not admit to showcasing Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky, but the two will be on display Thursday against the Minnesota Wild.

Hemsky will move up to play left wing on the Oilers' second line alongside Gagner and Jordan Eberle. It's the first time this season Hemsky has played left wing.

"We've been able to develop some chemistry and feed off each other," Gagner said. "He's a guy that likes the puck on the fly. The left wing is going to be a little different for him. When he gets that speed going, though, he's an amazing player. It should be a fun night."

Both Gagner and Hemsky have been rumored to be on the move as the March 5 NHL Trade Deadline approaches.

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.29.2014 / 3:32 PM

By Derek Van Diest -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 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 -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 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 -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 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 -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 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 -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 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 -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 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 -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 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 -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 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 -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 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 -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 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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Posted On Saturday, 12.21.2013 / 3:29 PM

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

Oilers' Perron looks to bring edge against Blues

EDMONTON -- David Perron is looking forward to facing his former teammates Saturday night.

The Edmonton Oilers left wing is going up against the St. Louis Blues for the first time since being traded this offseason. Perron was acquired by the Oilers in exchange for Magnus Paajarvi and a second-round pick in 2014 NHL Draft.

“When I got traded and the schedule came out, that’s the first thing I looked at,” Perron said. “Normally I look at when we play [the Montreal Canadiens], because I’m from there, but this year was a little different. It’s going to be fun to play against them.”

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Posted On Thursday, 12.12.2013 / 3:39 PM

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

Oilers feel speed, smarts best assets against Bruins

EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers are not a big, strong, heavy team.

So going up against the Boston Bruins on Thursday night at Rexall Place, they won't try to match up physically.

Oilers coach Dallas Eakins concedes it would not be a wise tactic.

"I think it might not be the smartest game plan to try and match them physically," Eakins said. "If you don't match up that way, there's no use trying to do it. I want to use more of our speed, and our smarts against them.

"I'm not sure if they're as big as they have been in the past. They still have some heavy guys, but I want to get into a game where we're playing quick with really good puck support, and if we do have to give up the puck, then we're going to be first to it. To go in and try to match a team like this physically, I don't think it gives us a chance to win the game."

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.10.2013 / 3:16 PM

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

Oilers still searching for consistent, 60-minute efforts

EDMONTON -- The only thing consistent about the Edmonton Oilers of late has been their inconsistency.

The Oilers have alternated between winning and losing in their past eight games. They host the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday at Rexall Place, having lost to 2-1 in overtime against the Calgary Flames on Saturday.

"The ups and downs of our team are sometimes understood and sometimes not," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "The last game against Calgary was a head-shaker for all of us. We thought we made some progress, we were feeling very good about ourselves and we made some knucklehead plays that cost us some offense."

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Posted On Saturday, 12.07.2013 / 3:49 PM

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

Smid returns for latest Oilers-Flames rivalry game

EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames can still get temperatures rising. Saturday, the teams meet in the second game of the season series, at Rexall Place.

"Hockey is like everything, it goes in cycles," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "Both franchises are in unbelievable hockey markets. Right now we're in a rebuilding phase and there is no secret formula, you need time.

"With time you're going to have growing pains. You see some bright flashes, you look at [Calgary's] Sean] Monahan and [Edmonton's] Taylor Hall and [Nail] Yakupov, and those guys are the building blocks. You need to surround them with quality veterans. You look at teams like the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks a few years ago, they went through the same thing and today they're leaders in the League."

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Posted On Thursday, 12.05.2013 / 3:25 PM

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

Oilers shake up defense group

EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers plan on making a number of roster changes for their game Thursday against the Colorado Avalanche, but the reinforcements from Oklahoma City did not arrive in time for the morning skate.

Defensemen Martin Marincin and Corey Potter, along with center Anton Lander, were recalled from the Oilers' American Hockey League affiliate Wednesday, and despite flight delays the trio is expected to play.

"They got delayed [Wednesday] coming in," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "They're either in the air or may have landed already. They'll be available for [Thursday night]."

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.03.2013 / 3:50 PM

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

Dubnyk looks to lead Oilers to second straight win

EDMONTON -- Devan Dubnyk will get the start in goal for the Edmonton Oilers when they host the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday at Rexall Place.

Dubnyk was instrumental in the Oilers' win against the Dallas Stars on Sunday, entering the game in relief of injured Ilya Bryzgalov and making 15 saves in a 3-2 shootout victory.

With Bryzgalov sidelined with a neck injury and concussion symptoms, Dubnyk will make his 19th start of the season for the Oilers, who are looking for a second consecutive win and sixth in their past eight games.

"It's good when you're playing well and the team doesn't have to be worrying about every single mistake ending up in your net and they can just go and play hockey," Dubnyk said. "You might have lapses in a game and things might not be going your way, but you have to find a way to make a big save. It's an important part of our job."

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Posted On Monday, 11.25.2013 / 3:42 PM

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

Oilers look to extend win streak against Blackhawks

EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers feel their game has improved over the past couple of weeks.

On Monday night, the Oilers should get a good gauge on how far they've come, hosting the Chicago Blackhawks at Rexall Place.

The Oilers have won three consecutive games entering their matchup against the Blackhawks, but know the defending Stanley Cup champions present a unique challenge.

"The great thing about today is that I feel our players are looking forward to this game," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "We just played these guys a few weeks ago and we were not great in the first period, I thought we were playing shy and safe.

"But in the second and third period, I thought we got going and matched them. I think we've taken a little bit of a step forward, and it's always a good measuring stick when you have the Stanley Cup champions coming in. The good thing about this morning is that I sensed our guys were excited about tonight, they want to play, they want to play hard and they want to try to send a message."

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Posted On Thursday, 11.21.2013 / 3:31 PM

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

Oilers, Panthers each chasing third straight win

EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers each will be vying for a third consecutive win when they meet Thursday at Rexall Place.

"It is three wins if we can get it [Thursday], but it's just another game that we have to concentrate on getting points," Oilers captain Andrew Ference said. "We dug ourselves into a hole and we want to get points to try and get out of it.

"We want to continue playing the game the right way and get into better habits. We've done a good job of that in our last game. It was a very solid game systems-wise and defensive-wise. But we can’t be overly excited about getting all those goals in our last game, really, we just have to return to the solid play that got us them."

The Oilers go into their game Thursday coming off a 7-0 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday. It was Edmonton's best game of the season as they limited Columbus to 14 shots.

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Posted On Tuesday, 11.19.2013 / 3:40 PM

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

Oilers' Yakupov, Blue Jackets' Murray in initial meeting

EDMONTON -- The top two picks of the 2012 NHL Draft face each other for the first time Tuesday when Nail Yakupov (No. 1) and the Edmonton Oilers host Ryan Murray (No. 2) and the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"I guess you can look at it like that," Murray said. "But I think it's more Columbus Blue Jackets versus the Edmonton Oilers, to tell you the truth."

Murray, 20, is in his rookie season, having missed the abbreviated 2012-13 NHL season due to a shoulder injury suffered in junior hockey with the Everett Silvertips. The smooth-skating defenseman has two goals and two assists in 20 games.

Yakupov, 20, is in his second season with the Oilers. He has three goals and three assists in 20 games.


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Posted On Friday, 11.15.2013 / 6:25 PM

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

Oilers hoping to find net, snap losing skid

EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers need to end a scoring drought before snapping a losing skid.

Heading into their game against the San Jose Sharks on Friday at Rexall Place (10 p.m. ET, TSN), the Oilers have not scored at home in 182:04 of play.

They have been shut out in their past three home games and are on a four-game losing skid.

"When you look at the chances from the Dallas game, we have two wide-open nets where their goalie made a hell of a save on one and the other one we hit the crossbar," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "Those are two tap-ins usually. I'm not buying into the 'we can't score' right now. We're getting some good looks at their net.

"The one thing we worked on in practice the other day was our cycle game. That's something that maybe doesn't come naturally to our group. Our group likes to attack off the rush more than anything, but we've got to establish a cycle game and spend more time in the other team's zone."


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Posted On Wednesday, 11.13.2013 / 3:16 PM

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

Stars' Horcoff returns to Edmonton to face Oilers

EDMONTON -- Shawn Horcoff is back in familiar surroundings.

The Dallas Stars forward spent 13 years with the Edmonton Oilers and will face his former team for the first time Wednesday.

"It's different being here," Horcoff said. "I wanted to go right [toward the home team dressing room] when I walked in here his morning. I guess old habits are hard to break.

"I'm just looking forward to the game, to tell you the truth. Obviously as the game gets closer, I'll get a little more nervous and a little more emotional. It's going to be fun. It's going to be nice to actually play the game and have some closure."


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Posted On Saturday, 11.02.2013 / 3:46 PM

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

Helm returns for Red Wings; Mrazek in goal

EDMONTON -- Darren Helm will return to the Detroit Red Wings lineup, and goaltender Petr Mrazek will make his first NHL start of the season Saturday against the Edmonton Oilers.

Helm has played one game in 18 months due to injuries dating to March 2012. The center has battled a knee injury, lacerated forearm, back problems, and most recently groin issues.

"There were days where I was really uncertain this day would ever come and whether or not I would be playing again," Helm said. "There were some days of doubt, and I'm really happy to be back."

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Posted On Tuesday, 10.29.2013 / 3:28 PM

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

Oilers' Gagner cleared, to play against Maple Leafs

EDMONTON -- Sam Gagner is back in the lineup for the Edmonton Oilers, while Joffrey Lupul will be a game-time decision for the Toronto Maple Leafs as the two sides meet at Rexall Place on Tuesday.

Gagner has yet to play a game this season after breaking his jaw during the preseason, courtesy of the stick of Vancouver Canucks wing Zack Kassian. Gagner needed surgery to repair the damage done after Kassian's stick caught the Oilers center in the face.

Kassian received a five-game suspension for the Sept. 21 incident, while Gagner missed the first 13 games of the regular season.

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Posted On Thursday, 10.24.2013 / 3:51 PM

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

Oilers, Capitals each seek three-game win streak

EDMONTON -- A three-game winning streak is on the line Thursday when the Edmonton Oilers host the Washington Capitals at Rexall Place.

Each team enters having won its previous pair, with the Oilers salvaging the last two games of a six-game road trip. One of the stops early in the trip was Washington, where the Capitals posted a 4-2 victory.

"At least you have a little bit of a feel of what they're looking to do and it's fresh in our minds," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "The good thing is that we don't have to spend a lot of time on 5-on-5 pre-scout video and we can get right to the details very quickly.

"For me it's always good to play teams right away after. The competitiveness of the game is still there and obviously we'd like to rebound off the game we played in Washington as well."

Alex Ovechkin scored in the victory against the Oilers 10 days ago and has added three more goals since to lead the League with nine.

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Posted On Thursday, 10.10.2013 / 3:15 PM

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

Oilers' Dubnyk still has team's confidence

EDMONTON -- Despite giving up 10 goals in their past two games, the Edmonton Oilers still have confidence in Devan Dubnyk.

The Oilers goaltender was pulled in the second period of a 6-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday, and then served as a backup in the Oilers' 5-4 shootout win against the New Jersey Devils on Monday. But Dubnyk will get his shot at redemption Thursday as he starts against the Montreal Canadiens at Rexall Place.

"We've always had confidence in Devan," Oilers forward Taylor Hall said. "You look back at this summer when there were rumors we were after [Cory] Schneider, I always thought that Dubnyk was the guy for us. I've always believed that and I still do. Other guys in here feel the same way.

"Any goalie can have a couple of bad stretches, a couple of bad games. It's how you rebound, and we need him to be good this season. It's good for him to try and get his game back. He's capable of that and we have confidence in him."

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Posted On Monday, 10.07.2013 / 3:25 PM

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

Nugent-Hopkins returns to Oilers' lineup

EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers are moving Taylor Hall back to the wing, reuniting their top line and sitting Ryan Smyth as they host the New Jersey Devils on Monday at Rexall Place.

They also are starting backup goaltender Jason LaBarbera in an attempt to earn their first win of the season.

The game marks the return of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, back nearly four weeks earlier than expected from April shoulder surgery. He'll center the Oilers' top line, with Hall on the left and Jordan Eberle on the right wing.

"I feel great," Nugent-Hopkins said. "I'm excited. It's going to be fun. I need to get involved early, I know that. There is going to be some good energy in the building for sure. As far as the team standpoint, you have to get off to a good start and keep playing for 60 minutes."

Nugent-Hopkins' return brought an end to the Hall experiment at center, which saw the first pick of the 2010 NHL Draft total one assist and a minus-5 rating in the Oilers' first two games.

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Posted On Tuesday, 10.01.2013 / 3:14 PM

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

Oilers ask Hall to fill void at center

EDMONTON -- Taylor Hall will be the center of attention as the Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets drop the puck on their season Tuesday at Rexall Place.

With injuries to the Oilers' top two centers, Hall made the move into the middle from his usual left-wing position. He'll play between Ryan Smyth and Ales Hemsky on the Oilers' top line against the Jets.

"I think we'll be fine, though having Sam [Gagner] and Ryan [Nugent-Hopkins] out is a big hole for us," Hall said. "But we still have a lot of good players, no matter what position you are at. [At] forward, we still have a lot of depth there. The addition of [David] Perron has been huge for us. He's a great player and someone that's going to fit in well for us here. We're going to do everything we can to scrape out some wins until Gagner and Nugent-Hopkins get back."


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Posted On Thursday, 09.12.2013 / 6:44 PM

By Derek Van Diest -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Training Camp 2013 blog

Oilers camp opens with excess defensemen

EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers have too many defensemen for too few roster spots.

Heading into training camp, the Oilers are counting on competition enhancing performance with nine defensemen under NHL contract.

That doesn’t include Oscar Klefbom, the highly touted Swede the club took in the first round (No. 19) of the 2011 NHL Draft.

"There's only 23 roster spots, and after you get to the 13 forwards that you're going to carry for sure, the numbers start going the other way for the defensemen," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "There is going to be a very, real battle there, I suspect between four or five of them.

"These exhibition games, staying healthy and every second of practice are going to be important times for those men."

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Posted On Thursday, 09.12.2013 / 4:13 PM

By Derek Van Diest -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Training Camp 2013 blog

Oilers' Nugent-Hopkins skates, return still unclear

EDMONTON — Ryan Nugent-Hopkins skated with the Edmonton Oilers in a non-contact jersey on Thursday.

Just having the third-year center on the ice was good news for the club after undergoing shoulder surgery in April.

"It feels good, it's nice to able to be on the ice skating with the guys right now," Nugent-Hopkins said after the Oilers first on-ice session of training camp. "I'm involved quite a bit, so it's good. There has been a lot of rehab and stuff, but it feels good so far."

Nugent-Hopkins is not expected to be ready by the first game of the regular season. Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish said the first pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, probably would not be available until November.

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Posted On Wednesday, 09.11.2013 / 4:45 PM

By Derek Van Diest -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Training Camp 2013 blog

Hall could be option at center for Oilers

EDMONTON — With Ryan Nugent-Hopkins unavailable to the Edmonton Oilers until November, the club is looking at their best player to possibly fill the void.

Heading into training camp the Oilers will experiment, moving Taylor Hall to center over from his usual left-wing position. Hall, 21, led the Oilers in scoring with 16 goals and 50 points last season.

"The Taylor Hall experiment, I don't want it to get blown out of proportion here, it's not like I'm going to ask this guy to play right defense," Oilers first-year coach Dallas Eakins said. "He's played center before, it may be an option for us. But maybe [Mark] Arcobello is going to step up and going to jump into that hole. Maybe one of the other centers is going to take a bigger role on the third or fourth line and we can bump [Boyd] Gordon up."

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Quote of the Day

They said, 'You're going to love the city. It's smaller than Philadelphia, but you're going to love it. You're going to love the fans. Just watching the playoffs last year, the fans seemed louder there than they did anywhere. I'm really excited about that.

— Forward Scott Hartnell on his upcoming season with the Columbus Blue Jackets