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LIVE BLOG: Oilers vs. Golden Knights

Get regular updates, highlights and more as the Oilers take on the Golden Knights at Rogers Place

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

The Oilers take on the Golden Knights tonight at Rogers Place.

You can watch on Sportsnet or listen on 630 CHED and the Oilers Radio Network.

Read below for updates, highlights, tweets, commentary and more in our live in-game blog.

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IN DEPTH: Crossroads

Assistant Coaches Trent Yawney, Manny Viveiros and Glen Gulutzan all crossed paths in Saskatchewan, joining the Oilers organization unified through a profound connection

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

CROSSROADS

BY PAUL GAZZOLA

If it weren't for Glen Gulutzan's vehicle needing repairs, their assembly could have begun on time. When the elevator doors of Studio 99 split, only two of three Oilers assistant coaches emerge.

In an Oilers cap and tracksuit is Trent Yawney, also known as Yawns. He hails from Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan, and even without skates on, one could confuse Yawns for having skates on. He hovers around 6-foot-4 and can cover a large area of ice. He was a Hudson Bay celebrity, playing his junior hockey alongside Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan for the Western Hockey League's Saskatoon Blades. Drafted by Chicago 45th-overall in the 1984 NHL Entry Draft, the large defenceman patrolled bluelines for the Blackhawks, Flames and Blues, racking up 783 PIMs in 593 career NHL games from 1987 to '99. 

Due to his size, Yawns' presence is almost always known. He was a hard-nosed defender and the thought of crossing lanes with him on the ice is unpleasant but off it is quite the contrary. With 12 playing seasons in the NHL and 18 years of coaching professionally, Yawns has achieved defensive sensei status. When he shares his wisdom with players, it's direct and honest. 

Manny Viveiros is a stride behind in an Oilers half-zip and track pants. His real name is Emanuel but at the rink, most people refer to him as either Manny or Viv. Manny is shorter than Yawney, everyone is, and maintains a stiff build. He was a "hot rod" defenceman, those being Gulutzan's words (who is still absent) and would face off against Yawney and McLellan when his Prince Albert Raiders played the Blades. He was drafted by his hometown Edmonton Oilers 106th-overall in '84, the same year Yawney was drafted, but spent most of his playing career overseas in Austria. 

On game days, Manny wears three-piece fitted suits in tones ranging from burgundy to pastel blue and as a defenceman in Austria, he was flashy, too, notching 50 or more points in four separate campaigns. Manny also scored one NHL goal and put up 12 points in 29 career games over three seasons with the Minnesota North Stars. "A dream come true," the St. Albert native answered when asked about getting selected by his hometown Oilers. But with rearguards like Paul Coffey, Charlie Huddy and Kevin Lowe at training camp, "There was no chance."

Gulutzan's nonappearance presents a roadblock. This occasion was supposed to be the assistant coaches' crossroads. An opportunity to gather in Studio 99 for a sit-down to talk about their tenure with the Oilers organization thus far, their coaching backgrounds, philosophies, styles, how to manage certain players in certain situations and how to manage certain situations with certain players. 

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LIVE BLOG: Oilers at Flames

Get regular updates, highlights and more as the Oilers take on the Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

The Oilers take on the Flames tonight at Scotiabank Saddledome.

You can watch on TV on CBC and Sportsnet or listen on 630 CHED and the Oilers Radio Network.

Read below for updates, highlights, tweets, commentary and more in our live in-game blog.

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MORNING SKATE REPORT: Oilers at Flames

The Oilers visit the Scotiabank Saddledome for the first Battle of Alberta of 2018-19

by Ryan Frankson & Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

The Oilers visit the Scotiabank Saddledome for the first Battle of Alberta of the 2018-19 season.

You can watch the game on CBC and Sportsnet or listen live on the Oilers Radio Network, 630 CHED.

Read the game preview below with more to come, including our Morning Skate Report, videos and lineup updates. 

Video: OILERS TODAY | Pre- Game at Calgary 11.17.18

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BLOG: Koskinen to start in Calgary

Finnish netminder will get his first taste of the Battle of Alberta, while Cam Talbot is expected to start on Sunday versus the Vegas Golden Knights

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

EDMONTON, AB - The back-to-back starters have been decided.

Mikko Koskinen will man the pipes against the Calgary Flames on Saturday and Cam Talbot will get the Vegas Golden Knights in Edmonton on Sunday.

Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan confirmed his starters on Friday before departing for Calgary.

"Two games, we're at home and we're on the road," he started. "One team went to the Stanley Cup Finals last year and the other team is a rival. We just decided that we would play Mikko on the road to experience the rivalry and Talbs at home in the back-to-back."

Koskinen is 4-1-0 this season with a 2.52 goals-against average and .918 save percentage. McLellan expressed his comfort with the Oilers goaltending situation so far in 2018-19.

Video: RAW | Todd Mclellan 11.16.18

"Two goaltenders that are capable of playing any given night," he added. "With all due to respect to the goalie that were here in the past who gave us everything we had, I don't know if we ever got to that point. 

"At this point right now, we feel comfortable playing either of them. Mikko's done a tremendous job of creating a sense of confidence amongst his teammates and staff. That's gone a long way and we know what Cam can do."

The Oilers coach has also been happy with Talbot's body of work in practice late. The netminder is 5-7-1, owning a 3.09 goals-against average and .895 save percentage.

"He's spent a lot of time with Dustin Schwartz, the goaltender coach and they talk about his play, scenarios, reads and then when he does get the time on the ice, he works as hard and as efficiently as anybody we have on our team," McLellan said. 

"That is very encouraging."

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BLOG: McLellan gives his core a rest

"If we err at all, we're going to err on the side of rest rather than fatigue," said McLellan

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

EDMONTON, AB - Thursday's Oilers practice at Downtown Community Rink might have appeared to be an optional skate, given the absence of more than five players. Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan confirmed, after the fact, it wasn't.

The bench boss kept a handful of players off the ice to rest and rehab.

"I didn't make today an optional. I told five players they weren't skating, just to get them the rest," said McLellan.

Those five players included Oilers Captain Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Adam Larsson and Oscar Klefbom. Kris Russell also didn't skate and neither did Tobias Rieder, who will be sidelined for probably a month, per McLellan.

"There are players that have played a lot of hockey and they're going to play a lot of hockey," McLellan added. "We've had some travel - it's the only three-day break we're going to get - and if we err at all, we're going to err on the side of rest rather than fatigue."

Each of the five players absent average more than 20 minutes of ice time a night. Darnell Nurse is also a member of the 20-minute club, averaging 22:03 per night, but he skated on Thursday.

"The three forwards, Connor, Nuge and Leon, they're well over 20 minutes a night," said McLellan. "That's not going to change all year. It was also a maintenance day for a couple of the guys that are beat up."

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BLOG: Rieder sidelined for 'probably a month'

Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan provided an update on the forward Thursday

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

EDMONTON, AB - Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan provided an update on forward Tobias Rieder on Thursday.

"Tobi's going to be out for probably a month," the coach said. "He has an upper-body injury and won't be available to us."

Rieder, 25, was finding his groove on the Oilers second line alongside compatriot Leon Draisaitl and Alex Chiasson. The German has also found ice time on the Oilers penalty kill and power play units.

"It's a blow that hurts us in a number of different areas," McLellan added. "He became a very trustworthy player for us. A very solid defensive player, one that you could put out in any situation. Up front, he was creating well while maintaining that responsible aspect of the game."

Rieder has seven assists in 18 games this season.

"We'll miss his speed, his aggressiveness on the forecheck but in turn, he'll get some rest, he'll get healthy and we'll get him back," said McLellan.

The Oilers recalled forward Patrick Russell from the Bakersfield Condors on Thursday as a result of Rieder's injury.

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LIVE BLOG: Oilers vs. Canadiens

Get regular updates, highlights and more as the Oilers take on the Canadiens at Rogers Place

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

The Oilers take on the Canadiens tonight at Rogers Place.

You can watch on TV on Sportsnet West or listen on 630 CHED and the Oilers Radio Network.

Read below for updates, highlights, tweets, commentary and more in our live in-game blog.

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BLOG: Lucic looking for answers

Winger was frustrated at Monday's Oilers practice

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

EDMONTON, AB - If breaking one stick against the goal post wasn't enough to display his frustration, Milan Lucic took another one and snapped it in half at the Oilers bench.

The winger, with one goal and five points in 17 games this season, didn't abstain from showing his emotion on the ice or talking about it in the Oilers Dressing Room. The Oilers forward has three goals in the past 64 games he's played and has tried just about everything in the book to break the slump.

"Shooting harder, gripping different parts of your stick, taking it on your backhand, switching the way you tape your stick," Lucic, a five-time 20 goal scorer, said. "Changing gloves, washing your gloves, changing your laces… shooting from different spots, shooting off a different foot, shooting off different stances. 

"Trying all those different things to see if something will work."

Video: RAW | Milan Lucic 11.12.18

Lucic entered the 2018-19 season with a refreshed outlook. He's made it a mandate to come to the rink with his best foot forward, remaining positive in the face of adversity while still dealing with his on-ice struggles.

"Maybe it's just the year 2018," Lucic wondered. "It's just been not my year. Everything that could bounce the other way, it has."

In December 2017, Lucic had five goals and five assists in 13 games before the new year began. He registered just a single marker and seven assists the rest of the campaign.

"Once Christmas happened and the calendar changed, the tap shut off," he said.

Lucic and the Oilers will host the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday, a team the Vancouver, BC, product has been able to triumph against. In 46 career contests versus the Habs, Lucic has 14 goals and 28 points.

"I've had success against the Montreal Canadiens," he said. "I'm feeling good about that going into tomorrow but in saying that, you know it's not going to be easy at all with a stingy team like that and a great goalie."

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BLOG: Oilers lines get shuffled

Draisaitl and Caggiula flanked McDavid at Monday's practice; Nugent-Hopkins centred Rieder and Chiasson

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

EDMONTON, AB - It's been done before.

And it's happening again.

Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan shuffled his lines at practice on Monday, reuniting Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on the first line while Drake Caggiula rounded out the trio from the left side.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkin centred Tobias Rieder and Alex Chiasson, and Ryan Strome skated up the middle alongside Milan Lucic and Ty Rattie on the third unit with Cooper Marody taking second reps at pivot on it.

The fourth line of Kyle Brodziak, Jujhar Khaira and Zack Kassian remained intact. 

"it's just a little switch," said Draisaitl, who has 10 goals and 17 points in 17 games, following practice. "It has worked in the past and hopefully it gives us a spark."

Regardless of the complexion of the lines, Draisaitl said the whole team, beginning with the individual, must be better going forward to break the current four-game funk.

"It's not so much about changing lines or me and Connor playing together, it's a matter of individuals working hard and playing their game," he added. "I don't think it really matters what line you're on."

Video: RAW | Connor McDavid 11.12.18

There were also some minor tweaks to the defence pairings. Oscar Klefbom and Adam Larsson stayed together but Matt Benning was partnered with Darnell Nurse while Kris Russell played on the right side of Jason Garrison and Kevin Gravel, who rotated in drills.

"We're all capable back there," Benning said. "We all contribute in a different way but can contribute effectively. I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow but as Dmen, you just try to play as best you can to make it hard on the coaches in their decisions on the lineup."

Although the defender said he doesn't read too much into the lines on practice days, he did express the club's inability to get things done offensively of late.

"It seems like we're snake-bitten a little bit," he said. "We have a lot of depth up there and a lot of guys that can put the puck in the net, it's just creating that chemistry. Sometimes it's there, sometimes it's not. That's just part of the game."

The Oilers will look to break their skid Tuesday when the Montreal Canadiens pay Rogers Place a visit.

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