Nail Yakupov, the first pick of the 2012 NHL Draft, will be a healthy scratch for the second straight game, Edmonton Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said Monday, ahead of his team's game against the Washington Capitals.
"I really liked our group of forwards last game," Eakins told reporters in Washington. "There was absolutely nobody there that deserves to come out. So we'll stick with the same group and that's the challenge of the player. Not just for [Yakupov], for all of our guys. It's such a privilege to play in this League and you want to give everything you have every night so you never end up like Wally Pipp."
Pipp was a first baseman for the New York Yankees who famously missed a game and was replaced by Lou Gehrig in the starting lineup. Gehrig went on to set a record for consecutive games played.
Yakupov has no points in four games this season for the Oilers. He had 17 goals and 31 points in 48 games for the club in his rookie season, narrowly missing out on being a finalist for the Calder Trophy.
His lack of offensive production likely is a combination of bad luck and a small sample size. He has 10 shots on goal, and the team's shooting percentage when Yakupov is on the ice at even strength is well below the League average at 3.8 percent.
The team's save percentage also is low when he's on the ice, but Yakupov's play in the other two zones of the ice could be contributing to that. Yakupov told the Edmonton Journal he wasn't happy about being scratched from a 6-5 overtime loss Saturday to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"I’m not happy about it. I just want to play every game," Yakupov said. "I’m going to play my game … I’m not going to change but maybe play better without the puck, or forecheck more, but I love playing with the puck. I really don’t like skating all the time, and forechecking, and hitting somebody every shift. I don’t think it’s my game."
The Oilers have lost four of five games to start the season and have yielded 5.00 goals per game, which is tied with the New York Rangers for worst in the League. Edmonton led Toronto four times Saturday, but Joffrey Lupul scored in the final minute of regulation and then Dave Bolland scored in overtime.
"I don't want to change much from our game in Toronto," Eakins said. "I thought we were really going and I want that same kind of passion."