EDMONTON, AB - The Oilers have suffered through multiple injuries the last few weeks but got some good news on Wednesday at morning skate. Boyd Gordon, Matt Hendricks and Luke Gazdic were all on the ice, as was goaltender Ben Scrivens.
Scrivens will start tonight against the Boston Bruins. Although Gazdic is healthy, he will sit out with Matt Fraser in. Hendricks returns from an ankle injury.
“There are some old ailments in the ankle, but nothing new other than a lot of fluid build up in the joint itself,” Hendricks said.
Rob Klinkhammer is returning from the birth of his child and will not play tonight.
COMING HOME STRONG
On their last road trip, injury riddled and exhausted from the scheduling, the Oilers battled to win in New Jersey and in a spirited contest in Montreal. They competed hard against Winnipeg in their sixth game of the trip, falling in a shootout. They also lost a tight battle to the Islanders.
The Oilers hope to keep from stumbling out of the gate on this homestand, after a long and tiring road trip.
“Just preparation I think,” Oilers centre Derek Roy said of what will help start things off well at home. “I think if everyone physically and mentally prepares themselves for the game it’s going to be a battle tonight. We had a good practice this morning and a day off yesterday. No excuses. We’ve got to go out there and do the job.”
Hendricks added, “I hate to say it, but it’s all those stupid cliches people tell you all the time. We’ve got to stick to our system and we’ve got to realize that when we’re at home we’ve got to take the energy from the crowd and use it to our advantage. That’s probably been a little of our problems coming off of road trips. We come out a little bit stale. We’ve got a Boston team coming in here, that’s probably not playing their best hockey right now but we know what kind of team they can be and what type of game they want to play. We’re going to have our hands full. We need all 20 guys going tonight and playing the right brand of hockey.”
The story of Roy and Nail Yakupov’s chemistry continues to stay relevant. Yakupov has points in five straight games, playing on the veteran centre’s wing. It has been the most productive stretch of the season for Yakupov and his longest scoring streak since January and February of 2013. A lot of that has to do with the chemistry he has built with Roy.
“It has been huge for us,” Oilers Interim Coach Todd Nelson said. “Derek has been excellent with Nail. You can see them really have a kinship on the ice and he’s been excellent. Anytime they come off the ice after a shift there is conversation about what they can do better. Or Nail might say, ‘I’m open here.’ They have a discussion about it. It’s a great relationship, he’s done a great job with Nail in supporting him and Yak loves playing with him.”
A couple of weeks ago, Nelson offered to move Yakupov up to the top line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. However, Yakupov declined because he felt his game was improving on the line with Roy. Since then, the two have continued to put up points and play well with each other.
“He’s just a good centre,” Yakupov said of Roy. “He does everything right. He’s been in the league many years and he has really good position as a centre. I think he’s a really good centre and that’s what I needed, it’s pretty key for me. What I try to do is get open and shoot the puck. Derek is never selfish, he never keeps the puck all to himself. If a guy is open he’ll always give it to him. That’s a really good player. He helps me around all the time. We kind of are talking every shift and he just tells me what’s better to do and of course I’m going to listen to that guy. He’s saying the right things. It’s easy to talk to this guy, we can talk about everything. I think that’s very good, I’m really happy with him at centre.”
Roy has seen growth in Yakupov’s game since first being paired with him, when he said it could be hard to find him on the ice at times because he wasn’t always in the right places or he was too quick to certain areas.
“I think the more you talk to him, the more he listens and understands,” Roy said. “Sometimes, at the start, he was in areas where you don’t score in those areas. I think he’s attacking the net more and that’s resulting in goals.”
Yakupov has three goals and three assists in the last five games.
QUICK NOTES: Jordan Eberle is two assists away from the 150th of his career. Eberle has six points in his last five games. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has three goals and an assist in his last five games. The Bruins are 19-11-3-0 lifetime in their road games against Edmonton.
-- Chris Wescott, edmontonoilers.com
BRUINS (28-20-8) at OILERS (16-32-10)
TV: SN; NESN
Season series: The Boston Bruins scored four unanswered goals in the third period at TD Garden in early November to defeat the Edmonton Oilers for the 13th consecutive time. Carl Soderberg set up the tying goal and scored the game-winner.
Bruins team scope: The Bruins practiced after a 4-3 overtime loss against the Calgary Flames on Monday in which they had to settle for one point after scoring the game's first three goals. "We're going to try to take the positives out of last night and try to carry that into tomorrow," forward Brad Marchand said after practice. Boston called up goaltender Malcolm Subban from Providence of the American Hockey League on Monday, and coach Claude Julien left open the possibility that Subban could make his NHL debut against the Oilers. "He's going to play on this trip at some point. Where he's going to play, we haven't decided that yet," Julien said. Starting goalie Tuukka Rask has lost his past four decisions. Julien said defenseman Kevan Miller was sent home because of a right shoulder injury sustained in the loss at Calgary.
Oilers team scope: Edmonton is back home for three games after completing a 2-3-1 road trip with a 5-4 shootout loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Monday. Jordan Eberle led the Oilers with six points on the trip, including two assists Monday. The Oilers will be trying to defeat the Bruins for the first time since Oct. 17, 2000. Goaltender Ben Scrivens, who hasn't play since sustaining a hamstring injury on Feb. 9, should be ready to return, according to the Edmonton Journal. His backup is likely to be Richard Bachman, who was called up when Scrivens was injured. Bachman entered the game at Winnipeg during the shootout after Viktor Fasth injured his knee in the first round.