Oilers defenceman Justin Schultz left the game on Sunday 8:18 into the second period and did not return. The Oilers didn't have any further clarification on the extent of Schultz's injury following practice in Leduc on Monday.
“He had an evaluation this morning and we’re awaiting the results. He’s likely not playing tomorrow if he’s not on the plane so we’ll deal with it after that,” Oilers head coach Todd McLellan said, adding that as a result of not knowing the extent of the injury, the next steps haven't been decided such as whether the team might call another defenceman up.
“Pete (Chiarelli) and I just met a couple minutes ago to discuss what the next step will be. We want to find out where Justin is before any decisions are made.”
McLellan added that he has been happy with the play of Schultz so far, with the exception of one or two hiccups along the way.
“Justin’s made strides for us all throughout training camp. He had a little bit of a setback against Washington but real good strides. His game is improving defensively. He’s trying to figure out the offensive part of it but I think he’s an important piece to our potential success now and moving forward. We’d like to see him get healthy and back as quick as possible.”
With Schultz's injury coming partway through the game on Sunday, the rest of the five healthy blueliners had to step it up. Oscar Klefbom was asked about losing his defence partner.
“Obviously yesterday it was tough to lose Justin. He’s one of the best defencemen, I think, on this team. It’s tough without him but we have eight good defencemen who are ready to go every night so we’ll be fine,” said Klefbom.
The Oilers defenceman did add that he’s glad to be getting some additional power play time. In fact, his unit was on the ice when the Oilers scored the tying goal late in the third period on Sunday night against the Kings.
“It felt good to be on the ice and it was a nice goal. I felt pretty bad it wasn’t enough to go to overtime.”
McLellan touched on the team's decision at the start of camp to carry eight defencemen. It's a decision that right now is paying off with two injured.
“Eight’s not ideal but eight sometimes is important when it comes to injury, when it comes to developing young defencemen. We talked about asset management with Brandon Davidson and when you have a veteran that’s sometimes not playing like Andrew’s been in that situation, it makes it tough for him and it’s not always pleasant,” McLellan began.
“But he’s handled it rather well. He’s a professional. Those are some of the headaches with eight. Some of the positives are that we get everybody involved in reps. We save a little bit of energy on them and we get a chance to figure out what we want to do as a group.”