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PRE-GAME REPORT: Oilers vs. Rangers

by Marc Ciampa / Edmonton Oilers



Brad Hunt recalled from Oklahoma City plus comments and fresh line combations from Oilers practice on Saturday.





EDMONTON, AB - The Edmonton Oilers look to halt a three-game slide tonight when they take on the New York Rangers.

The team will be going with a bit of a different look up front after using the following line combinations at practice on Saturday:


On defence, the team recalled Brad Hunt this morning from Oklahoma City so there may be a change due to injury but after practice on Saturday it appeared that the D units were going to stay the same:


Coach Eakins did not announce the starter in goal but Ben Scrivens appears likely to get the nod.


Tyler Pitlick will be on a line with Mark Arcobello and David Perron tonight against the Rangers. For Pitlick, he's skating with a couple of players he's familiar with. He skated with Perron in his first game up with the Oilers back on December 1 and played with Arcobello in Oklahoma City.

"I think it’ll be great," said Pitlick of his new linemates. "Me and Arco played together my first year in OKC pretty much the whole year. And on and off throughout the years that he was there. He was up and down quite a bit.

"I’m familiar with him and we’re kind of familiar with each other. We can trust each other so I think it’ll be good to have that factor," Pitlick continued. "Me and Perron played together that first game and I thought we played well together getting pucks in deep, playing a simple game and letting the forecheck take care of the work."

Arcobello added that he was looking forward to playing with Pitlick.

"He plays hard every game. He’s got good speed and size and likes to throw the body. It’s nice to have him on the forecheck. He’ll chip it in and press a lot of those D. It’s going to be good."


The Oilers are trying some new looks down the middle on their power play with Matt Hendricks setting up in front of the net on one unit and Tyler Pitlick on the other.

Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins talked about continuing to find the right mix.

“We continue to search for goals (on the power play) and we’ll keep changing it, adjusting it, hammering on it,” he began.

“Hendy (Matt Hendricks) will not leave the front of that net when the puck’s up on the point. He’s good on retrievals. He’s heavy on pucks, we’ve got to have that. What happens on your power play usually is when a guy like that goes on it, there’s usually someone with skill who moves off or moves to another unit. It’s where we’re at now. We have to have somebody in front of the net.”

The head coach added that he felt that losing Boyd Gordon's faceoff ability -- he remains out with a back injury -- puts the team in a tough position.

“When you get into these situations, boy do you miss Boyd Gordon and the value that he brings our team in the faceoff circle.”

With Pitlick in front of the net on the other unit, Eakins is taking a page out of the AHL's Oklahoma City Barons.

“Pitter is going to be our bumper up there. He was doing it in Oklahoma City. We were chatting with (Barons head coach Todd Nelson) down there and he was real efficient there.”

While Pitlick has not been a centre for most of his pro career, Eakins does like his faceoff ability.

“He has centre in his background and can win face-offs as well. We’ll put him in that role on that unit.”

Pitlick played centre for a good number of shifts on Friday against Anaheim.

“I only moved him there for a shift or two and he did so well that I just let it run, I kept going with him. I thought he looked really good there. Is that a long-term approach for him? Probably not, at this level. But he was one of the guys for me last night that was going. He was playing and he was being physical. He’s in the mindset right now, whatever we ask him to do he just nods his head. You end up having a lot of time for players like that.”

-- Marc Ciampa,




RANGERS (13-10-4) at OILERS (7-18-5)


Season series:
The Edmonton Oilers earned a 3-1 win against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 9. Edmonton has one win since (1-10-4).

Rangers team scope:
New York had contributions up and down its roster in the opener of a four-game road trip and earned a 5-1 win against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on Saturday. The Rangers scored on three straight shots, all on odd-man rushes, to jump out to a three-goal lead in the opening 6:46 on goals from Ryan McDonagh, J.T. Miller and Mats Zuccarello. Henrik Lundqvist made 29 saves. "We played the way we talked about going into this game," Lundqvist said. "Their D pinch a lot, so we have to be smart on the blue line, and it really paid off in the first period. We scored a couple goals, and it really gave us confidence."

Oilers team scope:
Edmonton enters Sunday with the 26th-ranked power play in the NHL at 13.2 percent. The Oilers went 1-for-4 with the man advantage in a 4-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks at Rexall Place on Friday. Coach Dallas Eakins shook things up at practice Saturday, placing Matt Hendricks in front of the net during power-play drills. "We continue to search for goals [on the power play] and we'll keep changing it, adjusting it, hammering on it," Eakins told the Oilers website. "[Hendricks] will not leave the front of that net when the puck's up on the point. He's good on retrievals. He's heavy on pucks, we've got to have that. What happens on your power play usually is when a guy like that goes on it, there's usually someone with skill who moves off or moves to another unit. It's where we're at now. We have to have somebody in front of the net."

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