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BLOG: Chara has high praise for McDavid

Bruins veteran defenceman sings the praises of Oilers captain Connor McDavid

by Marc Ciampa /

Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara was talking about Connor McDavid and had very high praise for the 21-year-old two-time Art Ross Trophy winner. 

"If you look at Connor, he played in the NHL at 18 years old but he could have played at 16 because he was so advanced. Because of the rules, he couldn't but now he's getting 100 points a year. If he came in as a 16-year-old he'd probably have 80 points. 17-year-old he'd have 90 points," Chara stated. 

"Did he need 100 games? No, he didn't need any games. First game, he was noticeable."

McDavid was asked about Chara's thoughts on him. 

"That's pretty special. It means a lot coming from him. He's one of the world's best back there and it's been that way for a long time," he began. "He's real hard to play against and definitely not slowing down at all. He keeps himself in really good shape. He's kind of a true pro that could play forever."

The Oilers captain was asked about how he prepares to play against the six-foot-nine defender. 

"You've got to start preparing whatever you do a lot sooner because he's got that real long stick. He doesn't give you any time to get the puck. He's right on you, just because he has that long reach. Obviously if he gets you in his mitts it's not going to be very good. You try to stay to the outside of him and try to beat him any way you can."

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BLOG: Coach further breaks down Saturday's game in Sweden

by Marc Ciampa /

After losing their first game last Saturday, the Oilers are probably starting to feel more like an NFL team with how many times they've had to talk about their season-opening loss. 

Oilers head coach Todd McLellan did offer some fresh analysis on Saturday's game when asked, however. 

"For me, the results are what everybody looks at and evaluates. When I say that, that's the outside world. We look it differently. We look at it how we did or didn't play. There's a lot of areas we know we can be a lot better."

He added that the team should be ready to move on from that loss now. 

"It was a disappointing first game but it was that. It was a first night. We've had two good practices. We believe we can play better to a man and we've got to see it come out. So there's no panic. The fact we lost our first game, that's happened to numerous teams that have gone on and won Stanley Cups and won almost 60 games a year. I think we did that in Detroit a few times, as a matter of fact," McLellan continued. "I don't profess that we're the Red Wings of the early 2000s but we are a team that has to grow and has to learn and figure things out. We weren't very good against Jersey but we'll be better against Boston."

One of the big factors in the loss was the team's puck movement out of their own zone. 

"We weren't any good in our end and I don't mean defending, I mean coming out of it. They were on top of us, we were a little bit slow, we didn't have good board work so as a result anytime the puck was cleared, we didn't have possession."

McLellan pointed out that many of the mistakes were things he's confident can be corrected swifly. 

"A lot of energy was expended just to get out of the zone and we were never on the attack, so that was a disappointing part of the game. We had some lapses, certainly in the second period, that cost us but fixable mistakes. Very simple things."

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BLOG: Nugent-Hopkins ready to go Thursday

After missing practice on Monday, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins skated Wednesday and is ready to go Thursday

by Marc Ciampa /

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins skated at practice on Wednesday in his familiar spot on the top line alongside Connor McDavid and Ty Rattie. After practice, Coach Todd McLellan was asked about his status. 

"He was feeling good, he was fine. I talked to him a couple of times during practice. As I thought, he practiced today and definitely playing tomorrow."

Nugent-Hopkins was asked what happened on Saturday. 

"Just a little tweak, nothing serious. Just nice to have some time to recover and now ready to go and get playing some games here," Nugent-Hopkins said, adding that the long break between games helped him out immensely. 

"I feel good. It's nice we had a few days. It turned out well for me that we had a few days to recover. Today I felt good there.

"I'll be definitely ready to go tomorrow night."

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BLOG: McLellan looks for more from lines three and four

The third and fourth lines saw some shuffling at practice Wednesday

by Marc Ciampa /

Notable at practice on Wednesday was a shuffle to the third and fourth lines. On Monday, Kyle Brodziak was at centre with Jujhar Khaira on the left side and Zack Kassian on the right while Ryan Strome centred Jesse Puljujarvi and Tobias Rieder. 

On Wednesday, Strome was centring Rieder and Kassian while Khaira was in the middle between Puljujarvi and Drake Caggiula. 

"He played in the middle today, didn't play in the middle the other day," McLellan said of Khaira. "We shuffled those guys around. We need more. We need more from our third and fourth lines. They didn't give us much (on Saturday)."

McLellan added that he needed those third and fourth lines to help steal some momentum during the game, even if they weren't necessarily finding the scoresheet. 

"It's a four-line league right now and they have to be more productive. I'm not just talking about offence, I'm talking about momentum, physicality, defending, pace, energy. We need more from those lines."

During practice, who was the so-called third and fourth lines between the two units was unclear. When asked, McLellan said that's because it should be unclear. 

"When I look at those 'blue' lines -- because they were wearing blue jerseys -- I couldn't tell you who our third and fourth line was. They'll dictate that. When they get into a game situation where their minutes are distributed, we have to go to three lines which one of those lines play. Because the other day there wasn't a real distinguished separation between the players who played there," McLellan continued. "I don't know if Strome moved down a line, if Khaira's centring the fourth line, I can't tell you that. They'll dictate that."

Kyle Brodziak rotating in on Strome's line but McLellan also added that it doesn't necessarily mean Brodziak is out for Thursday. 

"We can't tell you that, either. We've got to wait and see so we'll make some decisions."

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BLOG: Practice Wednesday in Boston (video and articles)

Oilers are practicing in Boston ahead of tomorrow's game against the Bruins

by Marc Ciampa /

BOSTON, MA - The Oilers are skating today at the Bruins practice facility in preparation for tomorrow's game in Boston. 

Practice opened with some work on the power play with the Oilers unit of McDavid-Draisaitl-Nugent-Hopkins-Lucic-Klefbom getting some reps in. 

Line combinations were: 



Bouchard rotating in.


View blogs, videos and more below. 

Video: RAW | McDavid 10.10.18

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BLOG: Condors add Bear, Starrett to roster; Wells reassigned

Ethan Bear and Shane Starrett have been added to the Condors' (AHL) active roster, Dylan Wells reassigned to Wichita Thunder (ECHL) and Jeremy Beaudry released from PTO.

by Tony Brar /

EDMONTON, AB - The Bakersfield Condors have added Ethan Bear and Shane Starrett to the active roster on Tuesday. 

Tweet from @Condors: TRANSACTIONS:Ethan Bear and Shane Starrett have been added to the active roster.Dylan Wells has been reassigned to the Wichita Thunder.Jeremy Beaudry has been released from his PTO.

Bear rounded out his 2017-18 campaign with an 18-game stint with the big club, scoring one goal and adding three assists. The 2015 fifth-round pick appeared in four games during the 2018 NHL pre-season, registering one goal, two assists and two penalty minutes. Bear has 18 points (6G, 12A) in 37 career AHL games.

Starrett signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Oilers in April 2017 and is coming off his first professional season. The 24-year-old netminder spent most of his first pro season in Wichita (ECHL) and played in 38 games for the Thunder (17-14-0, .912 SV%, 3.01 GAA). Starrett appeared in three games for the Condors during the '17-18 season, winning once and recording a .895 save percentage and 3.71 goals-against average.

The Condors have also reassigned goaltender Dylan Wells to the Wichita Thunder on Monday. Wells is in his first full professional season and appeared in one game for Bakersfield this season (0-1-0, .839 SV%, 5.01 GAA). The 2016 fifth-round pick spent four seasons with the OHL's Peterborough Petes before turning pro.

Bakersfield has also released Jeremy Beaudry from his professional tryout contract. The defenceman played one game with the Condors, recording zero points and a minus-two rating.


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BLOG: Oilers get to work after returning to North America

The team skated at the Bruins practice facility after an eight hour flight on Sunday

by Marc Ciampa /

After a tough result Saturday in Sweden, the Oilers flew to Boston on Sunday. After taking a day to try and reset their internal clocks and recover from the eight-hour flight, it was time for practice Monday at the Bruins practice rink. 

"The results weren't what we wanted but the input and the process leads to results and we're more concerned about that right now. We addressed some things here today in practice. I thought we had a good practice. We've got some work to do," said Oilers head coach Todd McLellan. "We felt good coming out of the pre-season. We gave a bit of it back in that first game but we'll work here in Boston and get ready to play a good team."

Video: OILERS TODAY | Back to Work

The head coach was asked how the players were doing after a long travel day and a tough practice. 

"I'm not sure how the players feel completely today. I talked to a few of them, some good some not so good. I feel better coming back personally than I did going over."

Good news for the Oilers is they have a few days to recharge and get right before returning to action on Thursday in Boston. 

"We have a number of days that we can readjust. Sometimes it's too much time, as well. You're in one city for awhile and we don't play until Thursday," McLellan stated. 


Tuesday will be an off-day for the team before another full practice Wednesday followed by the game against the Bruins Thursday night.

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BLOG: Coach talks Saturday's defensive deficiencies

by Marc Ciampa /

Saturday's season opener was a tough game all around for the Oilers. Two numbers that stood out were the minus-3 ratings for both Matt Benning and Darnell Nurse. At times at practice on Monday in Boston the two were together but at other times, they were split up. Oilers head coach Todd McLellan said don't read much into that. 

"We have seven (defencemen) so you're always going to see split guys right now. It was evident that there was one pair that struggled a lot when it came to puck moving and preventing. We've dealt with that and talked to them. As a group, we have to move pucks better, we have to defend better, be a little bit quicker and I think there's some offence that can be created from that group as well."

"That's only one segment of the team. The goaltending, forwards and coaching staff can all sharpen up a little bit."

Benning and Nurse both played a ton on Saturday. Nurse led the entire team with almost 24 minutes of ice time. Benning was second among defencemen with 21:17.

"They're both young defencemen as far as games played and they're playing big minutes and that's part of growing up. Eventually in years two or three of your career or maybe four you've got to assume that role. You've got to pick your spots when you want to go on offence. Those two should be prime time defenders to shut other teams' offensive players down," McLellan remarked. "They should be good penalty killers. They should initiate breakouts, move pucks up ice. I think they can both play physical and they've got a lot of tools.

"Sometimes you're over physical, you're running out of position. They made mistakes."

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