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MORNING SKATE REPORT: Oilers at Senators

by Marc Ciampa / Edmonton Oilers

 
INSIDE THE OILERS

 

News, notes and more from Oilers practice in Leduc on Wednesday, including Luke Gazdic being placed on waivers and the return to the ice of Justin Schultz.

>> READ MORE IN THE INSIDE THE OILERS BLOG

 

PRE-GAME REPORT

 

OTTAWA, ON - The Oilers open a four-game road trip tonight in the nation's capital as they face the Ottawa Senators.

"Every road trip, every game's big for us," said Oilers head coach Todd McLellan looking ahead to tonight's contest. "Every night's an opportunity for us to improve, that's how we approach it. We've got to move the needle in the right direction. We did that the other night against Columbus and now we have an opportunity here in Ottawa."

One thing McLellan wants to turn around is the team's road record. At 6-16-2, he sees this road trip as a good opportunity to turn those fortunes around. 

"Looking to turn that around here in the last third of the season," he said. "No better time to start than tonight."

SCHULTZ, DAVIDSON TO RETURN

"We do get Schultz back tonight," McLellan remarked. "Good chance we will (also activate Davidson)."

Brandon Davidson has missed the last two games -- spanning almost two weeks thanks to an extended all-star break. Justin Schultz missed the game on Tuesday with an illness but said he's looking forward to getting back in the lineup.

"I'm feeling pretty good," Schultz said. "I had a couple of days to rest there and recover so ready to go tonight and hopefully I feel good out there."

GRYBA BACK IN OTTAWA

Fresh off scoring his first goal as an Oiler and first goal of the season, Eric Gryba will return to Ottawa for the first time since the Senators dealt him to Edmonton in the off-season.

"You want to come back and prove that you're worth keeping," he said, adding he's not bitter at all about the deal. "I'm not going to say I told you so. I understand it's a business."

McLellan talked about what Gryba's brought to the team this season.

"Eric the person has been tremendous around the locker room. Anyone here in Ottawa and has been around him would understand that," he began. "He's been a great leader and then when you put the skates on, his physicality and ability to break plays up, very good penalty killer. He's turned into a goal scorer now, too. Snuck one in (last game). We're happy and fortunate to have him."

LOOKING AHEAD TO TONIGHT

The Oilers head coach was asked about the possibliity for the game tonight to be a "fire wagon" type game with two teams who are playing well offensively right now.

"I don't think it benefits us to play like that. We need to have some solid structure in our game, we need to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves," McLellan said. "If we're just going to open up the floodgates and take chances I don't like it from our end."

Defending the goal from Edmonton's perspective is Cam Talbot, making his 13th start in 15 games for the Oilers.

-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com

 

NHL.COM PREVIEW

 

OILERS (20-26-5) at SENATORS (23-22-6)

TV: NHL.TV, RDS, SNW, TSN5

Season series:
The Ottawa Senators swept the 2014-15 series against the Edmonton Oilers with a 4-3 overtime win and 7-2 victory at home. Milan Michalek and Mike Hoffman each had three goals and an assist for the Senators. Hoffman scored the overtime winner in Edmonton. Defenseman Jeff Petry, now with the Montreal Canadiens, had a goal and an assist for the Oilers.

Oilers team scope:
Defensemen Brandon Davidson (undisclosed) and Justin Schultz (illness) are expected to return. Davidson has been out since Jan. 21 and Schultz missed the Oilers' 5-1 win at home against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday. In practice, Schultz was paired with Darnell Nurse, and Davidson skated alongside Eric Gryba. Defensemen Adam Clendening and Griffin Reinhart will likely be scratched. They were together on a fourth pairing. To make room for Davidson, forward Luke Gazdic was placed on waivers. Coach Todd McLellan told the Oilers website that Gazdic still fits in Edmonton's plans, but that he needs some playing time with Bakersfield of the American Hockey League. Center Connor McDavid returned to action on Tuesday after missing three months because of a fractured clavicle. He scored a goal and had two assists to help the Oilers end a three-game losing streak by defeating Columbus. "I expect him to keep his speed, his pace up, but it's unrealistic to expect him to score a highlight goal and get three points every game," McLellan said.

Senators team scope:
Defenseman Marc Methot (lower body) practiced Wednesday and will be a game-time decision. He has missed the past six games. Center Kyle Turris (ankle), out since Jan. 18, skated before his teammates practiced. There was no update on his status. Clarke MacArthur (concussion) skated with Turris and then for the first 20 minutes of practice. This was his first skate with teammates since his head injury in the fourth game of the season on Oct. 14. He hopes to be cleared for contact next week and return to game action in early March. "I'm still having a few things happen, but it's night and day to where we were a month ago and even two weeks ago," MacArthur told the Senators website. The Senators have lost four of their past five games, including a 6-5 defeat to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday.

-- NHL.com
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