Nikita Nikitin and Tyler Pitlick both skated with the team Monday at Rexall Place for the first time since suffering their respective injuries. Both are getting closer to returning.
“They skated with us today. There was no contact but it was good to see them on the ice practicing with us. They’re still both a ways away but it’s one of those things where we’ll take it day-by-day with both guys and see how they feel and how they respond after skating with us,” Oilers interim head coach Todd Nelson stated, adding with Pitlick's injury being a lacerated spleen they need to be more cautious.
“It’s a process with him. It’s good to see him on the ice skating and we’ll see if it’s mending properly then we’ll go from there,” Nelson continued. “He just needs to try and stay in the best shape possible. He had limited activity right after the injury. But he looked good out there today and it looks like he’s been doing stuff in the gym to maintain his physical fitness.”
Pitlick added that he has been feeling much better and was glad to finally get on the ice with his teammates.
“Everything’s been feeling good. I haven’t been in any pain in awhile so that part’s going good. I’ve been getting on the ice. Today’s my first practice with the team. I’ve got to wait for my next scan, wait for word that everything is healed up and then start taking my next contact.”
Pitlick is hopeful to join the team for their upcoming five-game road trip in early March.
“We’re trying to push it up to March 3. So hopefully I can get that scan, go on the road with the guys, do some practices and then by the time we get back from the road maybe get in a game,” Pitlick remarked, adding he's been experiencing some cabin fever wanting to get back out there.
“There’s not much you can do for a month. I pretty much sat on the couch and watched TV for a month straight and then started walking on the treadmill a little bit, just easing into it. It’s been boring. I haven’t had much to do. It’s not like a knee where you’re on the table, doing some exercises or getting work done. There’s not much you can do except rest.”
Pitlick said that at first, he didn't feel anything after a collision with Lance Bouma lacerated his spleen.
“I knew it was a big collision right away because I felt the impact,” he said. “It really didn’t hurt that bad initially. I just kind of felt like I had the wind knocked out of me. I kept skating and had a few more shifts. I felt all right. I just felt like I had something in my stomach. I finished the game and afterwards I went in the training room and got ice for my shoulder. Wasn’t really thinking about my stomach but just kind of asked about it. They checked it out and there was some tenderness there so they wanted to make sure everything was all right before I got on the plane.
“It’s a good thing they did because as soon as we got in the cab and headed to the hospital, the pain escalated. It’s a good thing they caught it and I wasn’t on the plane when that happened.”
PETRY ALMOST READY
Jeff Petry skated again with the team and said he felt like he could be ready to go tomorrow when the Oilers meet the Minnesota Wild.
“I’m hoping to be in the lineup against Minny. It was just a shot to the ribs, nothing was broken. Just bruised. It’s pretty sore to rotate but every day’s gotten a lot better and I didn’t have any issues today.”
Coach Nelson did add that the team did not have any further updates on Anton Lander's shoulder injury.
Nail Yakupov got hurt last game but played the entire contest. Today, he started practice but left early. Coach Nelson said that him leaving practice was precautionary and he will travel with the team to Minnesota.
“Last game he tweaked something. He got through the game but we just shut him down (today) for precautionary reasons. He’s making the trip and we’ll see how he is tomorrow.”