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BLOG: Yakupov showing improvement

by Marc Ciampa / Edmonton Oilers

Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins talked about the play of Nail Yakupov so far this season and the process to get him to play more of an NHL-style game.

"We talk about it as coaches as muscle memory. His muscle memory reverts back to he got away with that in junior. It's something that we think he's improving on but it's something we're going to have to keep hammering home every day," Eakins began.

"He's gotten away with a certain pace in junior and gotten away with certain plays. We don't want to take those plays away from him because he's very capable of making very conscious and excellent plays on his backhand. He can do it but he's got to realize when the time is to do it and when the time is not."

Specifically, Eakins talked about last night's game and some of Yakupov's struggles.

"There were a couple instances last night where it happened in the neutral zone and even more importantly, in the offensive zone where we've got a great cycle game going and everything's under control and now we're trying to force something in the middle on our backhand."

On the flip side, Yakupov did fire six shots on net tomorrow and the coach was encouraged by that.

"It's always interesting, when you go to a player and you're going to give him a message and he already knows. It started off with Yak, we wanted five shots and he gave us six. I was joking with him this morning, maybe we need him to get nine.

"He's getting some incredible looks. Mason made a couple of big saves. We want Nail to shoot the puck. We play Nail with Leon for a reason. That's a left-handed centreman. And we don't want Nail to be nice. Put the puck on the net, get it to the net. He's a shooter and that's what we want him to do."

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