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Posted On Wednesday, 11.13.2013 / 3:16 PM

By Derek Van Diest - Correspondent / - 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 - Correspondent / - 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 - Correspondent / - 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 - Correspondent / - 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 - Correspondent / - 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 - Correspondent / - 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 - Correspondent / - 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 - Correspondent / - 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 - Correspondent / - 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 - Correspondent / - 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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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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