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MORNING SKATE REPORT: Oilers vs. Avalanche

by Marc Ciampa / Edmonton Oilers



News, notes and line combinations from Saturday's Oilers practice at Rexall Place.





DENVER, CO - Coming off a 4-0 win over the Dallas Stars on Friday, the Oilers will go with the exact same lineup tonight in the opener of a three-game road trip against the Colorado Avalanche.

That means Richard Bachman will get his second straight start in goal tonight.

“Like I said before the Dallas game, it’s always exciting when you get to play. I want to go out there, try to have a good performance and help the team,” Bachman began.

The start was Bachman's first since March 8 against Carolina and it was his first win as an Oiler.

“It was a little while before the last one but I got a lot of good work in with Schwarzie (goaltending coach Dustin Schwartz) before and after practice so I think that helped to stay sharp.”

Bachman calls Denver home and went to Colorado College but added that he doesn't feel he needs additional motivation to step up.

“Motivation, I think you have it every time you step on the ice. You want to put in a good performance, get two points. Being at home, I spend a lot of time here. I have friends and family here. It’s special to be able to come here and play. You want to have a good performance and enjoy it.”

Oilers interim head coach Todd Nelson liked what he saw from Bachman last game and felt he earned a second straight start.

“We looked at his effort last game and he played extremely well. He got the shutout and you want to reward people for the good things they do. It made sense to come back with him. It didn’t necessarily have to be here in Denver. It’s a good story for him to come back and play in his hometown in front of his family. Hopefully he has a good outing,” said Nelson.


The Oilers will go with the same fourth line of Klinkhammer, Fraser and Gazdic tonight, with Klinkhammer playing centre. Boyd Gordon and Matt Hendricks skated this morning but were not ready.

“Both Gordon and Hendy are day-to-day. We’re looking to hopefully get them back for Anaheim, if not L.A. Tyler Pitlick skated with us and is doing better but he’s not in the lineup.”

Nelson said that the team is missing the energy that Hendricks brings to the team.

“He brings energy to our locker room and on the bench. That’s one thing we try to encourage other guys to come to the party with that. That’s who Hendy is. He’s the first guy in the dressing room on practice days and games. He has the tunes going. He provides a lot of energy for our hockey team and that’s contagious. Then the other guys are providing energy. It’s a group effort.

“He’s a warrior. He’s a guy that goes out there and tries to play the game the right way. He tries to have all the good habits that you need. He’ll block shots for you. It doesn’t matter what position he plays for you, whether it’s right wing, left wing or centre.”

The fourth line didn't play a lot last game, though Nelson pointed out it had to do with line match-ups and not performance.

“I thought they were fine the other night. Lindy went down to three lines. He was trying to get back in the game. So I just stuck with the match-up I had. They didn’t get a lot of ice in the third period but I talked to them about that. They had a couple of good shifts in the offensive zone. I thought they grinded it out. I don’t have last change tonight so I’ll have to watch where I put Klink in the face-off dot. He hasn’t taken a lot of draws over the past few years. But once again, if it’s a D-zone draw I need to be careful with that.”


The Oilers finished their six-game homestand 4-1-1 and are looking to continue that streak through this three-game road trip. Nelson said the team needs to ensure it doesn't play too loose, as was the case in the second period against Dallas.

“Guys are playing loose but we have to safeguard against that. I thought we played too loose in the second period last game. Richard had to bail us out. We got back at it in the third period. I thought the third was a lot stinger. It’s fine to be loose but we have to make sure that we do the appropriate work.”

Nelson added that the defence will be challenged against a tough forechecking Colorado squad.

“That’s our motivation. We want to go out there and have a great effort. We’re pacing a club that’s extremely good off the rush. They’re strong down low in the offensive zone so it’ll be a big challenge for our D.”

Consistency is also key for the Oilers according to Todd.

“We like the way we’ve been playing. The homestand I thought we were playing well there — to a point. We need to be more consistent that’s what I’m looking for tonight.”

-- Marc Ciampa,




OILERS (22-40-13) at AVALANCHE (35-28-12)


Season series:
Derek Roy's tiebreaking goal midway through the third period gave the Edmonton Oilers a 4-3 win against the Colorado Avalanche on March 25. The Avalanche defeated the Oilers 2-1 on Jan. 2 behind shootout goals from Matt Duchene and Alex Tanguay.

Oilers team scope:
Edmonton begins a three-game road trip after winning two straight games but dealing with injuries. Forwards Boyd Gordon (back) and Matt Hendricks (back), and defensemen Mark Fayne (shoulder) and Andrew Ference (concussion) are sidelined, though the Oilers hope defenseman Nikita Nikitin, day-to-day with a foot injury and on the trip, is able to play. Backup goalie Richard Bachman made 29 saves to earn his second NHL shutout in a win against the Dallas Stars on Friday. Forward Taylor Hall has a goal and three assists in four games since returning from a leg injury. Forward Andrew Miller became the sixth player to score his first NHL goal on a penalty shot and first since Jay McClement on Oct. 11, 2005.

Avalanche team scope:
Colorado was off Sunday after playing four games in five nights. "It's good for us to have a rest and a good morning skate on Monday and be ready for the Oilers," coach Patrick Roy told the Denver Post after a 5-3 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday. The Stanley Cup Playoffs remain a longshot for the Avalanche despite going 8-3-1 in March and 13-6-1 in their past 20 games. Colorado trails the Winnipeg Jets by eight points for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. "All we can do is enjoy playing these games, try to win them, play hard and try to do our part," forward Jarome Iginla told the Associated Press. Defenseman Erik Johnson (knee surgery) skated Saturday and is very close to returning, according to Roy. Defenseman Tyson Barrie got his 100th NHL point Saturday. Iginla passed Jean Beliveau (1,219) for 40th place on the all-time scoring list and has 13 points in his past 12 games.

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