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BLOG: Perspective, routine powering Desharnais to NHL success

The 26-year-old has stayed true to his process that's allowed him to have a major impact on the Oilers blue line in his first nine NHL games

by Jamie Umbach @JamieUmbach /

PHILADELPHIA, PA - Little moments and memories are keeping everything in perspective for defenceman Vincent Desharnais on his path to becoming an NHL regular on the blue line for the Edmonton Oilers.

Four years ago, the 6-foot-6 blueliner was sitting on the couch alongside netminder Stuart Skinner during the 2019-20 ECHL season -- his first professional campaign with the Oilers former minor-league affiliate the Wichita Thunder after four years at Providence College in the NCAA.

The Thunder had just been hammered 8-2 by the Utah Grizzlies on home ice to fall to 12-12-5 on the year with their second consecutive loss by giving up five goals or more. Desharnais was minus-2 on the night, and Skinner had allowed all eight goals on 33 shots in a pair of poor performances from the Oilers draft picks, who were both early into their professional careers.

They didn't know how their careers were going to turn out at that moment, and if their NHL dreams would turn out to be just that -- a dream.

"Is that it?" Desharnais recalled saying. "Are we done playing?"

Video: RAW | Vincent Desharnais 02.08.23


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POST-GAME: Oilers physical game reignited in Detroit

The Oilers once again showed they won't be pushed around as they build their game for a post-season run

by Michael Arcuri @arcurimike /

DETROIT, MI - If the All-Star break had any chance at cooling off the Oilers, Tuesday's contest in Detroit certainly turned up the heat.

The Oilers and Red Wings piled on the penalty minutes in a fiery affair, with both teams combining for 32 PIMs and a few punches and face washes after nearly every other whistle. Edmonton didn't give an inch when it came to the physical play on the night, leaving Detroit with the two points and some even better vibes.

"Yeah, it was definitely aan emotional game," said Warren Foegele, who scored twice in the Oilers 5-2 win. "They're physical, we're physical, and we were definitely on our toes. We're all big smiles after that win."

"I thought there was some physicality to the game tonight and we can play that game," Head Coach Jay Woodcroft said about his team's effort. "We have people that can play that game. I thought there was emotion in the game tonight and we can handle ourselves in those situations."

Video: Condensed Game: Oilers @ Red Wings

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In his latest blog, Gene Principe discusses the Oilers task at hand in the unofficial second half of the season

by Gene Principe @GenePrincipe /

Work Day. Those were the two words written on the white board at the front of the Edmonton Oilers dressing room upon their return to Rogers Place on Sunday. Whether you strolled by upon arriving in the room, or sat and stared at it a bit while you worked on your stick, or maybe a quick glance as you were putting your equipment on -- it was there and you knew what it meant.

Two words to epitomize the theme for the rest of the season. 'Work Day' doesn't really need an explanation -- you can swap your skates for work boots and helmet for hard hat. That vacation, bye week, or All-Star break is over, boys. The message was received loud and clear as the energy, interest, tempo, work, and battle levels between teammates was abundantly clear.

Video: PRACTICE | Back To Work 02.06.23

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BLOG: Oilers back at it Sunday following All-Star break

"We told our guys right off the bat that we were going to get them up and down the rink today," Coach Woodcroft said

by Michael Arcuri @EdmontonOilers /

EDMONTON, AB - 'Work day' was the message scribbled on the whiteboard of the Oilers locker room by Head Coach Jay Woodcroft on Sunday afternoon as his squad returned from the NHL All-Star break and practiced at the Downtown Community Arena.

"Today was a work day. (Woodcroft) put that up on the board that it was a work day, so we all knew were kind of in for one," forward  Dylan Holloway said. "But no, it's good. It's something we need to do after a break kind of getting the legs back and it was a good practice."

"I think we set a goal today of it being a work day and we told our guys, we were upfront right off the bat that we were going to get them up and down the rink today," Woodcroft said about his whiteboard message. "When they walked in and looked at the board, they knew what was coming and I thought they did a good job. I think when you're upfront with them, it allows them to get prepared for it before they step on the ice."

Video: RAW | Jay Woodcroft 02.05.23

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ALL-STAR: Oilers soaking in South Florida experience

McDavid, Draisaitl, and Skinner are taking in the NHL All-Star Weekend experience from South Florida in their own ways

by Michael Arcuri @EdmontonOilers /

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - Sun's out, big guns out.

With the breeze of the Atlantic Ocean at their backs, Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Stuart Skinner sat down and spoke to the media on Thursday about their South Florida NHL All-Star Weekend experiences.

For Skinner, who came into the season not even expecting to be a number-one goaltender, nevermind an All-Star, he'll be soaking in more than just the sun this weekend.

"Yeah, it's been great. I just got here yesterday and enjoyed just looking at the ocean and got a nice ocean view," Skinner said. "I just hung out and got to meet a few guys today, which has been great, and yeah, just loving the Florida weather." 

Skinner currently finds himself mingling with some of the best goaltenders in the game like Vezina Trophy winners Connor Hellebuyck, Igor Shesterkin, and Andrei Vasilevskiy. It's just another feather in the cap for the Edmonton product, who also signed a new three-year NHL contract and witnessed the birth of this son Beau within the last month and a half.

"It's amazing. I'm very happy, very proud for Stuey," Draisaitl said. "He's worked his bleep off for a lot of years now. I think it's very exciting for him and for his family. Obviously a very special week or month with the birth of his child as well. Very happy for him."

Video: RAW | Stuart Skinner 02.02.23

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GENE'S BLOG: Time for a break

In his latest blog, Gene Principe looks at some of the sunny vacations that Oilers are setting off to over the All-Star break

by Gene Principe @GenePrincipe /

Time off for good behaviour.

The Oilers have a break, but they went into time off for the All-Star festivities sporting a smile.

It was two-fold why they went into nine days without a game and seven days without a practice grinning ear-to-ear. I was the big win they recorded over Chicago that put them at 10-3-2 since Christmas and 7-0-1 in their last eight to have them knocking on the Pacific Division's first-place door only a few points away from top spot.

It was the story of the night, but the story of a lifetime was Matt Berlin. The goaltender went from studying for a psychology mid-term at the University of Alberta to furthering his hockey education in the NHL -- an unbelievable moment that included a blocker save, a post-game Hockey Night in Canada interview and the player of the game vest for filling in for the ill Stuart Skinner.

While Berlin went back to work or at least school Monday, there was no work to be done by the Oilers for a week. Nothing was on their agenda other than some R and R.

"I'm going to Palm Springs with my wife and (daughter) Ryleigh," said the normally mild-mannered Brett Kulak, who had a heavy-throwing, spirited scrap with Chicago's Sam Lafferty. "I wish it was just about laying in a hammock for five or six days but I will try to keep the body and mind active."

Video: CHI@EDM: Oilers' EBUG Matt Berlin makes NHL debut

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FEATURE: Berlin makes his biggest save in Oilers EBUG appearance

The U of A netminder lived out a dream of playing in the NHL and making a save in the final 2:26 of Saturday's win over Chicago as Edmonton's emergency backup

by Jamie Umbach @JamieUmbach /

EDMONTON, AB - A simple wrist shot from the top of the zone in the final moments of a 7-3 hockey game will go down as the biggest save that 25-year-old goaltender Matt Berlin has ever made in his life.

He's made a lot nicer stops over his career in the WHL, AJHL and now USports with the University of Alberta Golden Bears, but this relatively routine save on Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Caleb Jones with 48 seconds remaining has the special distinction of having come in the final minutes of a regular-season National Hockey League game for the Edmonton Oilers.

"I think it was actually maybe missing the net," Berlin said after the game to CBC's Scott Oake on Hockey Night in Canada. "Or maybe not. I don't know. But the guys did a great job boxing out there."

The Oilers emergency backup goaltender (EBUG) mentioned how he wasn't sure if he wanted to face any shots, but it was a crazy, unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience for the Edmonton product who could never have imagined waking up on Saturday that he'd be making a save in his NHL debut later that night in the final 2:26 of Edmonton's rousing four-goal victory over Chicago.

But here we are, and it was every bit of amazing as you'd imagine.

"The whole day was a whirlwind, but the finish to the day was unbelievable," Berlin added post-game from the Oilers locker room. "It's a special moment I'll never forget for the rest of my life."

Video: POST-RAW | Matt Berlin 01.28.23

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BLOG: Kostin converts another fan at Oilers Photo Day

The forward offered up his own jersey to replace a Flames fan's during a funny interaction at Oilers Photo Day presented by Scotiabank on Thursday

by Jamie Umbach @JamieUmbach /

EDMONTON, AB - The legend of Klim Kostin continues to grow in Oil Country with every hug, smile and Calgary Flames fan snubbed by the cheerful and humble Russian forward.

The 23-year-old had his best face on for Oilers Picture Day presented by Scotiabank alongside Vincent Desharnais for the countless Season Seat Holders that marched through the gates of Rogers Place on Thursday night to snap a few shots with their favourite players.

"We had a lot of fun, but yeah, it was really hard," Kostin said after Friday's practice. "My face was sore."

It was all fun and games until a fan wearing a Calgary Flames jersey reached around Kostin's shoulder with his arm, prompting him to roll out of his chair and put up his arms in disapproval and disbelief.

Tweet from @Kgill39: Kostin is awesome!!! Really doesn���t like Flames fans

Kostin pulled his own jersey off his back and offered it up to the fan by motioning for him to pull it over his Flames sweater. Once he obliged, only then did Kostin return to his chair with the fan to take a hard-fought photo.

The interaction was filmed and posted on Twitter by Oilers 'nerd, geek, fanatic' Karman Gill, and the fan was later said to have only worn it to see players' reactions.

"Yeah, I told him I'm not allowed to take a picture of the Calgary Flames," Kostin said. "This guy, pretty funny."

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BLOG: Yamamoto returns to skating with the group

The injured Oilers forward isn't eligible to return until at least Feb. 12, but he has resumed skating with the team

by Michael Arcuri @arcurimike /

EDMONTON, AB - Kailer Yamamoto skated with the team on Thursday for the first time since the Oilers Jan. 11 contest against the Anaheim Ducks.

The forward has been sidelined for the last two weeks with an undisclosed injury and was placed on LTIR back on Jan. 17. While the 24-year-old is not eligible to return to the Oilers line-up until Feb. 12, just being able to skate with the group was a positive step in the right direction for Yamamoto.

"It's amazing," Yamamoto said. "Anytime you're out for a while and then you get back on the ice with the guys, it's kind of just a relief you're back out there talking to them, chatting with them so it's really good."

"I thought it was a really good sign that he was on the ice and team practice," Head Coach Jay Woodcroft said about the winger's return. "He didn't partake in every drill, but it was it's a good sign and step forward for him, which I thought was positive."

Video: RAW | Kailer Yamamoto 01.26.23

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OILERS PLUS: The Drop Episode 12 focuses on New York road trip

Now streaming on Oilers+, the latest all-access episode centres around the team's busy November trip to the Big Apple

by Staff @EdmontonOilers /

EDMONTON, AB - There's always plenty to chew on after a trip to the Big Apple.

In the latest episode of The Drop, available exclusively on Oilers+, follow along as the Oilers make their way through New York on a three-game road trip for meetings with the New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders and New York Rangers. 

Watch: Youtube Video

Episode 12: Big Apple Business is highlighted by Dylan Holloway's first career NHL goal at Madison Square Garden in a spirited third-period comeback for the Oilers, along with Zach Hyman and Jack Campbell's visit to NHL headquarters, a special American Thanksgiving and an unexpected Emergency Back-Up Goalie (EBUG) situation.

Follow along in the latest episode with exclusive interviews and more from Edmonton's business trip to the Big Apple this past November.

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