PHILADELPHIA, PA - The Oilers kick off a five-game road trip tonight in Philadelphia against the injury-depleted Flyers. The Oilers will be without top scorer Taylor Hall (MCL sprain) and captain Andrew Ference (suspension) but will enjoy Nikita Niktin and Viktor Fasth's return to the lineup this evening.
"I'm excited to be out there again," said Fasth. "It's been a couple weeks since I played again. I'm just going to go out there and stop that puck."
Fasth said his groin injury won't be an issue.
"We've been pushing it in practice and working really hard. I don't think that will be an issue. I'm past the point of playing my game without even thinking about it."
Head Coach Dallas Eakins said it was time to get him back in there.
"We just want Viktor to stop pucks, it's as simple as that," said Eakins. "Vitkor got off to a tough start with the injury. We thought he had a great training camp. Rather than wait a couple of days, let's get him up and going while he's fresh and he's energized. We didn't want to put it off too much longer."
POULIOT ON THE TOP LINE
With the loss of Taylor Hall, Benoit Pouliot will get a chance on the top line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle.
"He's able to track down pucks, he's got an incredible stick. He's a responsible guy and has enough skill to really complement those guys. I think it's a great opportunity for Ben. He's been filling another role on another line for us and he's been quite resonsible," said Eakins. "I think he's energized and excited to play with those two guys."
Nugent-Hopkins talked about playing with Pouliot.
"He's a fast guy, he's a big guy. We know he'll be first on the forecheck as much as possible. He's going to create some room out there and sees the ice really well," he said. "It should be fun to work with him tonight."
The forward lines for the Oilers tonight will be as follows:
The Oilers are shaking up their defence pairings tonight with the addition of Nikitin and Klefbom plus the subtraction of Hunt (to OKC) and Ference (suspended). They are going with:
Klefbom-Fayne Marincin-Petry Nikitin-Schultz
Eakins talked about the thought process behind the pairings.
"Nikky and Schultzie have played together before. Marty and Petey were solid for us last year. Marty has struggled to some extent this year so we're trying to find some balance for him and we're hoping that Petey's going to rub off on him. So far this year, the guys who have played with Petey have played a little bit better so hopefully reuniting those guys will have a positive effect on our team," Eakins began.
"Oscar's been great in the American Hockey League. He just needs to keep it simple. And Mark Fayne's been a rock back there for us."
When asked about whether pairing Klefbom with Fayne gave the young Swede the green light to be more offensive, Eakins said yes but with a caveat.
"We certainly don't want him to hold back, that's for sure. But with Mark, Mark being a defence-first guy at least Oscar won't have it in his head 'I'm covering up with somebody else' so if the offence presents himself, he's more than welcome to take it but we just want Oscar to play a solid game, close fast on pucks."
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com
OILERS (4-6-1) at FLYERS (4-5-2)
TV: SNOL, CSN-PH
Season series: The Philadelphia Flyers won both games against the Edmonton Oilers last season, including a 4-3 shootout win in Edmonton on Dec. 28, 2013. Wayne Simmonds had two goals and Michael Raffl scored the game-deciding goal in the shootout. The Oilers' David Perron and Taylor Hall each had a goal in both games.
Oilers team scope: With Hall out 2-4 weeks with a sprained knee ligament, Benoit Pouliot stepped into Hall's spot at left wing on the top line with center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and right wing Jordan Eberle at practice Monday. Defenseman Andrew Ference, who received a three-game suspension from the NHL Department of Player Safety on Monday, will also be out of the lineup, and coach Dallas Eakins said he's looking for other players to step up in a big way. "It's a team sport," Eakins told the Oilers website. "We need to lean on others and need to lean on some [American Hockey League] call-ups. Some guys who had good camps and had been playing in [Oklahoma City] to come up and help us."
Flyers team scope: Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn took the next step in his recovery from a lower-body injury Monday when he skated for about 30 minutes. It was his first time on the ice since Oct. 21, and he reported no pain after the workout. "It was good to get back out there and ease into it," Coburn said, according to CSNPhilly.com. "There is definitely improvement and it felt good. … I thought it was good to get the warm-up in and see how it reacts and go from there [Tuesday]." With Coburn and fellow veteran defenseman Andrew MacDonald still out of the lineup, it's expected that Carlo Colaiacovo, signed to a one-year, two-way contract Oct. 30, will make his Flyers debut Tuesday.