Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins sat Nail Yakupov for the final 9:14 of the third period on Tuesday night as well as in overtime. When asked about it, the head coach said that it didn’t really have anything to do with how Yakupov played. In fact, he liked what he saw from the Russian winger.
“The thought process for me — I think I didn’t play him after the eight-and-a-half minute mark, somewhere around there — we had enough forwards that were playing really well defensively. It wasn’t more about protecting our team, it was about protecting the kid.”
Yakupov was on the ice for the first Panthers goal but certainly couldn’t have been faulted for it. In all, he had two shots on net in 12:47 of ice-time.
“I thought he had done enough well in the game defensively and tried hard enough that I just didn’t want anything to go wrong for him. We had enough guys to cover it off.
“They ended up tying the game there on a broken play but when you give up three chances in the third protecting a lead you’ve done one hell of a job. It was little to do with his play, it was more of, listen, you had a sound game for what we were looking for from you and that was enough.”
Yakupov skated primarily on a line with Sam Gagner and Ryan Smyth. Gagner and Smyth both ended up minus-two as they were out there for the tying goal.
“I didn’t want anything crazy to happen for him to put a negative spin on it. And now, sitting for eight minutes seems to be a negative spin but it wasn’t. I was happy with his game and I just wanted it to end there and protect him.”