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BLOG: Condors contributions

Joe Gambardella and Josh Currie are helping contribute late in the Oilers season

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

EDMONTON, AB - The Condors are contributing.

Down by one versus the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Oilers fourth line got to work, with farmhands Joe Gambardella and Josh Currie flanking veteran Kyle Brodziak. 

Currie and Gambardella, who can grind just as well as they can score, fought along the boards to win a battle then siphoned the puck to Brodziak with open space. Brodziak didn't waste time with his shot, beating Columbus backup netminder Joonas Korpisalo's glove hand to tie the match up at 1-1.

Gambardella picked up his first career National Hockey League point with the primary assist on the play and Currie nabbed his fifth point in Oilers threads, as the club took the game 4-1 to keep their playoff hopes alive.

"It was obviously really nice to connect for a line point last night and get my first one," Gambardella said Friday from Downtown Community Arena. 

The forward amassed 27 goals and 45 points in 48 games with Bakersfield this year and is fortunate to have some familiarity alongside Currie. 

"They're two really good guys and I think we do a good job of keeping the puck low," he added.

Video: CBJ@EDM: Gambardella sets up Brodziak for first point

Gambardella dipped his toes onto NHL ice earlier in the season but feels better suited to contribute in his second stint.

"It's my second recall and I feel much more comfortable," the New York product said. 

"Now you know what to expect. You know what to do pretty much every day. The nerves are kind of gone a little bit and every day you feel more and more comfortable."

Part of the comfort process is getting acclimated with the way the big club operates. The 25-year-old attributes Condors Head Coach Jay Woodcroft for helping prepare the farmhands for the next step up.

"They do a good job of using the same terminology and same system," he continued. "This way, when and if that call comes up, you're not getting thrown into a brush fire.

"It makes it a lot easier when you're going over video, when you're going over breakouts, defensive zone coverage and all the systematic stuff. It makes it a lot easier to make that transition when it's the same thing down there that it is up here."

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BLOG: Lots at stake

"It's a concern any time you play somebody that's below you in the standing... we know what's at stake. It's a natural tendency," said Oilers Head Coach Ken Hitchcock

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

EDMONTON, AB - The Oilers postseason dreams are still alive and the club know what's at stake in the final eight games of the year.

Edmonton welcomes the basement-dwelling Ottawa Senators in an afternoon tilt on Saturday, understanding full-well that they can't take their opponent lightly.

"It's always a concern," started Oilers Head Coach Ken Hitchcock. "It's a concern any time you play somebody that's below you in the standing that you get too far ahead of yourself. We know what's at stake. It's a natural tendency."

Members of the Orange & Blue admitted they didn't put their best foot forward when the New Jersey Devils entered Rogers Place last week, losing by a score of 6-3. There's an imperative to not let that happen once again when the 25-43-6 Sens visit.

Video: PRE-GAME RAW | Ken Hitchcock 03.22.19

"Ottawa hammered Toronto in Ottawa, so they're capable of beating you if you don't bring your 'A' game," Hitchcock continued. "We need our 'A' game and we know what's at stake schedule-wise. 

"We can start putting pressure on people because we play ahead of some teams on Saturday afternoon. It's on us. Even in saying that, we're going to have to play well to beat them because what they've replaced their roster with is a bunch of quick, fast-skating players. We're going to have to be ready."

The Oilers are 33-34-7 with 73 points, five back of the Colorado Avalanche for the second Western Conference wild card.

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BLOG: Rieder addresses media

"I'm the first one to admit that I'm not playing to my capabilities. I think it went a little too far and I think Bob (Nicholson) knows that, too," said Oilers forward Tobias Rieder

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

EDMONTON, AB - Tobias Rieder spoke to the media following Friday's Oilers practice, commenting on some criticism he received from Oilers CEO Bob Nicholson on Thursday.

"Yesterday before the game, I got a call that woke me up from my pre-game nap," Rieder, standing in front of an Oilers banner in a Downtown Community Arena dressing room, said. 

"At that point, I didn't know what was going on. He (Oilers Entertainment Group CEO Bob Nicholson) apologized for what he was saying. At that point, I didn't really know to what extent this was going to be. Then my phone blew up and it was all over the news and everything. I know he feels bad about it."

Rieder said he was disappointed when he heard the criticism but has since accepted the apology from Nicholson. The winger was also appreciative of his teammates for supporting him during the situation.

"I'm not proud of the season I'm having and I'm the first one to admit that I'm not playing to my capabilities," he said. "I think it went a little too far and I think Bob knows that, too.

"You don't want it dragging on forever. Whatever happened, happened. That's how it is in this business and you just have to get over it. We're still in the race for the playoffs. I'm still going to go out there and play my heart out, play for the guys and my friends in the locker room and do my best to help the team win."

Rieder, who scored 12 goals last season, has 11 assists in 60 games this year.

"He's a no-maintenance player," said Oilers Head Coach Ken Hitchcock. "He hasn't scored like he normally does, it's probably put a lot of pressure on him, but he's a good teammate. He's done the right things all year for us."

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BLOG: News, videos from Friday's skate at DCA

The Oilers skated at Downtown Community Arena Friday. Stay tuned for news, videos and more

by Staff / EdmontonOilers.com

EDMONTON, AB - The Oilers skated at Downtown Community Arena after defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets by a score of 4-1 on Thursday.

Stay tuned for news, videos and more from the skate. Jujhar Khaira did not participate in practice.

Video: OILERS TODAY | Pre-Game vs OTT 03.22.19

Lines at practice appeared to be:

Draisaitl - McDavid - Kassian

Lucic - RNH - Chiasson

Rieder - Cave - Gagner

Gambardella - Brodziak - Currie

Malone, Rattie

Defence:

Klefbom - Larsson

Nurse - Russell

Sekera - Benning

Gravel - Petrovic

Goal:

Koskinen 

Stolarz

Video: RAW | Tobias Rieder 03.22.19

WRITTEN

VIDEO

Video: PRE-GAME RAW | Ken Hitchcock 03.22.19

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    BLOG: McDavid tops three categories in annual NHLPA Player Poll

    Rogers Place also named one of the League's top ice surfaces for players, finishing second among all 31 arenas

    by Jamie Umbach / EdmontonOilers.com

    EDMONTON, AB - More than 500 players around the NHL were surveyed on more than 20 hockey-related questions as part of the annual NHLPA Player Poll, with Oilers Captain Connor McDavid earning plaudits in three categories.

     Tweet from @NHLPA: .@cmcdavid97, your peers have spoken. Over 500 NHL players took part in the 2018-19 #NHLPAPlayerPoll ��� and they voted you for a hat trick of honours as the league���s best forward, most difficult to play against, and player they���d select to start a franchise with. Congratulations! pic.twitter.com/rRE6dj9pGy

    Questions ranged from individual skill to nicknames, with plenty in between, and McDavid earned the approval of his peers as the League's best forward with 63.6 percent of the vote - nearly 50 percentage points higher than Sidney Crosby's second-highest total of 17.2 percent.

    The two-time Art Ross and Ted Lindsay Award winner was also touted as the most difficult player to play against with 30.9 percent, and the player they were most likely to start a franchise with at 60.0 percent.

    On the venue side, Rogers Place was given raving reviews by the players for its playing surface after being named the League's second-best ice surface of all 31 NHL arenas. Only the Bell Centre in Montreal (29.6 percent) ranked higher.

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    MIC INJURY REPORT: Puljujarvi out

    Oilers have lost 179 man games to injury or illness in 2018-19

    by Staff / EdmontonOilers.com

    As of March 17, 2019

    Current man games lost due to injury: 179 games

    See below for a full injury report. 

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    RELEASE: Oilers recall Gambardella

    The Edmonton Oilers have recalled forward Joseph Gambardella from the American Hockey League's Bakersfield Condors

    by Press Release / EdmontonOilers.com

    EDMONTON, AB - The Edmonton Oilers have recalled forward Joseph Gambardella from the American Hockey League's Bakersfield Condors.

    Gambardella, 25, leads Bakersfield with 27 goals and ranks third in team scoring with 45 points. He also has 18 assists, 19 penalty minutes and a +19 plus-minus rating in 48 games.

    The 5'10", 196-pound forward has appeared in four games for the Oilers this season.

    The native of Staten Island, NY, joined the Oilers as an undrafted free agent in March, 2017, after three years at UMass-Lowell (Hockey East).

    For Joseph Gambardella's statistics and player profile, click HERE.

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    BLOG: Lucic respects spirited scrap

    "You respect a guy in that role just trying to do what he can to help his team and stay up in the Big Leagues, while also trying to bring that old-school type of play," said Milan Lucic

    by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

    EDMONTON, AB - Fighting is on the decline but that didn't stop Milan Lucic and New Jersey's Kurtis Gabriel from going the distance on Wednesday.

    The two forwards exchanged pleasantries then decided to dance, throwing it back with a heavy and spirited donnybrook - lasting over a minute - like those of the past.

    "I think I speak for both guys that were part of it," Lucic said on Friday, "it was a fun one to be in. Giving some shots, taking some shots and all that type of stuff."

    The scrap left a few bumps and bruises on the hulking winger. The top of Lucic's nose is still cut, his cheeks are still scraped and the sweater burn on the back of his neck is telling of the tug-of-war that's played during a tilt. 

    But the 6-foot-3, 231-pound righty had nothing but respect for his opponent Gabriel, who thanked the Oilers forward for making some time to get acquainted.

    Video: RAW | Milan Lucic 03.15.19

    "Actually, some really nice words from him to me after a fight like that," Lucic said. "You respect a guy in that role just trying to do what he can to help his team and stay up in the Big Leagues, while also trying to bring that old-school type of play."

    Lucic furthered the discussion on fighting and how it's changed.

    "When I first came into the League, it was nice sometimes when you were frustrated. You could take it out on someone from the other team," Lucic, who has fought twice this season, said. 

    "There were guys willing to go on the other side. It added to the intensity and energy of games. Also, it let the players police themselves. 

    "I do wish it was more old school like when I started but how could you complain with the skill that's come in and replaced a lot of those guys in the third and fourth line?"

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    BLOG: Klefbom sheds light on "injury"

    "It's a different kind of pain, but I'm just glad I'm standing here and feeling better," defenceman Oscar Klefbom said.

    by Jamie Umbach / EdmontonOilers.com

    EDMONTON, AB - Ouch.

    Defenceman Oscar Klefbom wouldn't let a slap shot to the midsection against the New York Rangers back on Monday stop his involvement on Wednesday against the Devils and on the Oilers crucial upcoming road trip through Arizona, Vegas, and St. Louis with the club eight points out of a playoff spot.

    "Obviously it was a tough one," Klefbom said of his injury. "First time I've experienced something like that. It was a different kind of pain, but I'm feeling better today.

    "It's going to take more than that to keep me out of the lineup right now. We have some big games coming up and they're going to be a lot of fun. This time of year, it's a lot of fun to be in the mix and it's going to be fun for how we approach the challenge."

    Video: RAW | Oscar Klefbom 03.15.19

    The slap shot caught Klefbom off guard, and he paid the consequences after needing to be helped off the ice and failing to return to the game.

    "I thought he was going to rim the puck, then I came out and he turned around and took a clapper that got me good," he said. "It's a part of the game I guess. I remember when he had Matt Hendricks here and he took a bad one. It's a different kind of pain, but I'm just glad I'm standing here and feeling better."

    It was no laughing matter for the Swedish blueliner.

    "It's not funny at all," Klefbom said with a smirk. "I see [Head Athletic Trainer T.D. Forss] coming onto the ice and he's laughing, so I was pretty pissed.

    "It took some time and we wanted to make sure everything was right. I went to an ultrasound and some stuff, so it's nice to know everything is working and it feels better today."

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    BLOG: Desperation levels increase

    Oilers players and coaches believe the club must return to playing desperate hockey ahead of a vital three-game road trip that begins Saturday in Arizona

    by Jamie Umbach / EdmontonOilers.com

    EDMONTON, AB - In the case of the Oilers, desperate times calls for desperate hockey.

    On Friday, Oilers Head Coach Ken Hitchcock spoke to his team's defeat to the Devils and his players' ability to heighten intensity when playing afraid - a feeling for the Oilers bench boss that wasn't prominent enough on Wednesday.

    "I think just having some urgency is really important," Hitchcock said. "At this point of the year there should never be a game where you're not urgent, but for whatever reason that happened and it's in the past now. You have to try to find a way to move forward. There should be no shortage of urgency coming into this game."

    Video: RAW | Ken Hitchcock 03.15.19

    The Oilers are on the road to take on the Arizona Coyotes this Saturday, searching of another vital two points in the playoff race while sitting eight points back of the final wild card spot with 12 games remaining.

    "I think everyone knows at this point what the game means, and I think as a player you control your own game and make sure you're playing with passion and urgency," centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, slated for deployment on a line with Jujhar Khaira and Sam Gagner on Saturday, said. "I think every guy in our room does that." 

    Gaining ground despite a positive 6-3-1 record in their past 10 games has proven difficult, but the Oilers maintain the mindset of one game at a time.

    "Every game is an emotional swing," Gagner added. "Every game is really important going down the stretch here, but all you can really control is focusing on that next one, taking care of the day at hand, and just going from there."

     Video: RAW | Sam Gagner 03.15.19

    A three-game road trip for the Oilers against Arizona, Vegas, and St. Louis spells out a crucial segment of the schedule against three outfits above them in the standings.

    "All I look at is it's three opponents ahead of us in the standings, one is stumbling a little bit, and we have to take advantage of it," Hitchcock said. 

    "We know what we got to do. There's little segments and we know we need to win two of three on the road here. I look at it like that. We win two or three on the road, then we got to look at winning a lot at home. But we've got to get back home and still be in the race."

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