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At the Rink: Flyers at Oilers

by Derek Van Diest /

EDMONTON -- Forward Matt Hendricks will return to the Edmonton Oilers lineup against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday after missing seven games because of a foot injury.

Hendricks sustained the injury blocking a shot in the third period of a 5-2 win at the Calgary Flames on Oct. 17.

"I look forward to getting back, being in the (locker) room, being able to talk amongst the group," Hendricks said. "I think in terms of preparation we're right where we need to be, we just need to be ready from the start."

The Oilers (4-8-0) missed Hendricks' work ethic and physical play, losing four of their past five games.

"The energy and the passion that he brings to the bench, he's vocal but in the right way. He creates a stir around the guys," Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. "You could sense it in practice [Monday] and I think our group needs that right now. We have a quiet group that needs to be stirred a little bit and Matt tends to do a very good job of that."

Hendricks, 34, has one assist in five games this season, but is an important member of the third line. He is effective in the face-off circle and plays a huge role on the penalty kill.

"Our team needs Matt Hendricks, especially with the (slow) starts we're having," McLellan said. "There is no guarantee it gets fixed because he's in the lineup, but our penalty kill was elite when he's involved in the lineup. He was probably our best player for the first three or four games."

The Oilers have fallen behind early, and have been forced to try and overcome multiple-goal deficits in four of their past five games. They were able to battle back from a three-goal, first-period deficit in a 4-3 win against the Montreal Canadiens last Thursday, and overcame three two-goal deficits against the Flames on Saturday before losing 5-4 on a goal with 8.7 seconds left in the third period.

"I don't know if it's nervousness, squeezing the sticks too tight and we don't want to make a mistake," Hendricks said. "Then when we get behind by a few goals, then the floodgates open and we just play our game. We need to find that early tonight and know that we have the confidence in this room to start a hockey game like that. We don't need to spot them two or three before we start to turn it on."

The Oilers are after a better start against the Flyers (4-5-2), who lost 4-1 at the Vancouver Canucks on Monday.

Philadelphia center Sean Couturier (concussion) will not play, but skated on his own Tuesday morning after joining the Flyers in Edmonton.

The Flyers are struggling to score; they have one goal in each of their past three games.

"The goals aren't going to come in bunches, but we have good ability on this team," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. "I think right now, things aren't going real well with our power play. Things aren't going real well around the net, we haven’t gotten a lot of bounces. We just have to keep it simple, get pucks to the net, get more bodies to the net and on the power play, stay confident and keep doing what we do. That ability hasn't gone anywhere, it's there and we just have to get it going in the right direction."

Goaltender Andres Nilsson will start for Edmonton in search of his second win of the season. Goalie Michal Neuvirth will start for the Flyers in the second of back-to-back games.

Here are the projected lineups:


Michael Raffl - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek

Matt Read - Scott Laughton - Wayne Simmonds

Sam Gagner - Brayden Schenn - Vincent Lecavalier

Chris VandeVelde - Ryan White - R.J. Umberger

Michael Del Zotto - Mark Streit

Nick Schultz - Luke Schenn

Brandon Manning - Radko Gudas

Michal Neuvirth

Steve Mason

Injured: Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (lower body), Sean Couturier (concussion), Evgeny Medvedev (upper body)

Scratched: Chris Conner


Taylor HallRyan Nugent-HopkinsLeon Draisaitl

Benoit PouliotConnor McDavidNail Yakupov

Matt HendricksMark LetestuTeddy Purcell

Luke GazdicAnton LanderIiro Pakarinen

Andrej SekeraDarnell Nurse

Brandon DavidsonOscar Klefbom

Griffin ReinhartEric Gryba

Injured: Jordan Eberle (shoulder), Justin Schultz (back), Lauri Korpikoski (head), Rob Klinkhammer (leg)

Scratched: Mark Fayne, Andrew Ference, Anton Slepyshev

Status report: Reinhart will be back in the lineup for Edmonton after missing six games because of an undisclosed injury. He will replace Ference on the third pairing. Korpikoski was placed on injured reserve. He took a hit from Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba last Tuesday. Though Korpikoski returned to the game, he has not played since. … Couturier said he felt good after skating Tuesday. He has not played since Oct. 21. Medvedev flew back to Philadelphia to be examined for an upper-body injury, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall announced.

Who's hot: Hall is on a five-game point streak with three goals and six assists in that span. McDavid has four goals and seven assists in his past eight games. … Streit has two goals and four assists in his past six games.

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