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.”
Perron has been exceptional for the Oilers this season, scoring a team-high 14 goals with 13 assists in 33 games. He’s also brought an edge to the Oilers lineup, not afraid to mix things up physically and verbally. Perron said he expects to play with the same edge against the Blues.
“Probably more, I don’t know,” he said. “When I do that, it’s to get myself going or the team going. We’ll see how it goes [Saturday]. I’m definitely going to play the same style.”
The Oilers go into the game having lost five straight. It’s the fourth time this season the Oilers have been on a five-game losing skid.
Frustration is mounting in Edmonton. Coach Dallas Eakins lost his temper during a drill at the morning skate, throwing a marker in order to get his team’s attention.
“It was good to see, absolutely,” Perron said. “We’re not happy with the position we’re in right now and I’m fine with that every once in a while. He’s obviously not happy with the games we’ve been playing, and we’re not either.”
The team also had to deal with an injury during the session when Ryan Jones was knocked unconscious following a collision with defenceman Andrew Ference. Jones was attended to and needed help getting off the ice.
“It was crazy, he got hit in the perfect spot and he was out cold on the ice,” Eakins said. “Things happen on the ice. But he’s fine. He’s lucid.
“But I didn’t talk to him. When you’ve been knocked out cold and I’ve had that myself, the worse thing you need is a bunch of people talking to you. He seems OK and I’m sure he’ll be fine.”
Jones won’t be in the lineup; Jesse Joensuu was penciled in to take his place prior to the incident.
Conversely, things are going well for the Blues.
They go into the game with four wins and one regulation loss in their past six games. They'll welcome the return of captain David Backes to their lineup Saturday. Backes missed the previous two games with a concussion sustained in a collision with Ottawa Senators center Colin Greening on Dec. 16.
“Every day has been better,” Backes said. “There have been no complaints, no setbacks; that’s been a good thing.”
Backes will center the Blues' top line between Alexander Steen and T.J. Oshie.
“It’s adding another good player,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “You saw the impact of [Jaden] Schwartz and what he brought to the team. We expect Backes to bring the same element of play. They’re top-six forwards for us, they’re really good players and they add more continuity to us.”
Brian Elliott will start in goal for the Blues. Ilya Bryzgalov starts for the Oilers.
Here are the projected lineups:
Taylor Hall – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
Ryan Smyth – Boyd Gordon – David Perron
Luke Gazdic – Sam Gagner – Nail Yakupov
Jesse Joensuu – Anton Lander – Ales Hemsky
Andrew Ference – Justin Schultz
Anton Belov – Jeff Petry
Nick Schultz – Corey Potter
Scratched: Ryan Jones, Philip Larsen
Injured: Mark Arcobello (ribs)
Alexander Steen - David Backes – T.J. Oshie
Brenden Morrow – Derek Roy – Chris Stewart
Jaden Schwartz – Patrik Berglund – Vladimir Tarasenko
Magnus Paajarvi – Maxim Lapierre – Chris Porter
Jay Bouwmeester – Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman – Kevin Shattenkirk
Ian Cole – Carlo Colaiacovo
Scratched: Adam Cracknell
Injured: Vladimir Sobotka (upper body), Roman Polak (ankle), Jordan Leopold (finger), Ryan Reaves (hand)