Edmonton Oilers v Vancouver Canucks - Game Two

EDMONTON, AB – Forward Adam Henrique is close to making his return from injury and is anticipated to be an option for the Oilers early in their Western Conference Final matchup against the Stars.

“We believe he's really close and we’re expecting him early in the series, whether that's Game 1, 2 or 3,” Head Coach Kris Knoblauch said. “But we'll definitely be seeing him at some point.”

Henrique practiced in full on Wednesday morning at Rogers Place on the second line next to Leon Draisaitl and Dylan Holloway as a fill-in for Evander Kane, who wasn't on the ice for maintenance reasons ahead of the team’s flight to Dallas for Games 1 & 2 of the third-round series on Thursday & Saturday.

The 34-year-old Henrique has a goal and an assist through six games in these playoffs, with his last appearance (and his only minutes of the second round) coming in Game 2 against the Canucks when he played 16 shifts and finished minus-one in 11:36 of ice time.

Henrique has missed five games since the decision that was made by the coaching staff to have him suit up in Game 2 against Vancouver despite not being 100 percent, with a few late calls due to injury for the Oilers forcing the coaching staff's hand. But with a few more players returning to full strength in recent games, they’ve had the luxury of letting Henrique take more time to recover, get back to full fitness and work his way into a position to be an impact player in Round 3.

“That had a lot to do with the situation on a lot of players, a lot of question marks,” Knoblauch said of Henrique in Game 2 against Vancouver. “And right now, maybe we could have had him in, but we felt that we had healthy bodies and that he could spend some more time resting it and getting back to 100 percent. In the game that he did play, we had a lot of question marks and maybe put him in sooner than we needed to, so right now we’re very fortunate.

“We're moving on to the third round and now, we’ve got a guy who can help us this series.”

Kris gives an update on Henrique & talks about facing Dallas

“It's a day-to-day kind of thing," Henrique added. "I think we've been on the same page every day for how we go about everything for the coach, the staff, and myself, so I think we've made all the right decisions up to this point and hopefully that continues."

Henrique said that he didn't reaggravate his earlier injury in Game 2 before mentioning that he'd hoped to be further along in his recovery by now so that he could've had a bigger impact in the playoffs.

When you're this deep into a postseason run, the window to make a complete recovery is much smaller than in the regular season, and Henrique has felt like he's been fighting against time while his teammates were competing to come up with a big seven-game victory over the Canucks.

With how fast the games are coming at this stage of the season, time certainly isn't your ally.

"Again, it was just kind of day-to-day, take it a day to time and see how things progress," he said. "You're always hopeful that things will progress in the right direction and quickly. You don't have a lot of time this time of year, so you're fighting that enemy at the same time as the schedule and how everything's feeling."

"This is the time of year when everybody's fighting to play all season long, so it's unfortunate timing. The games are just coming every other day and there's not really a break unless you're fortunate between series and get through one pretty quick. Then, it's a quick turnaround.

"Time kind of ends up being the enemy."

Adam gives an update on his status for the Conference Final

Coach Knoblauch had Henrique practicing on the second line during Wednesday's practice and mentioned that they haven't nailed down where the forward will play when he inevitably makes his return in the first few games of the Western Conference Final.

Regardless of where he plays, the trade-deadline addition for the Oilers will provide a major boost when he gets back into the lineup.

"Obviously he adds a lot to our team, whether that's helping us with our second-unit power play, the penalty kill, or probably more importantly, a little secondary scoring," Knoblauch said. "Whether or not we put him on the top two lines, he spent time with Leo and he spent time with Connor. He can help out the secondary scoring on our third or fourth lines depending on what we need at the moment. It'll be a nice addition when he is ready.

"Unfortunately for us, he hasn't played for a while, but when we do have him in the lineup, he'll definitely give us a little push."