Edmonton Oilers Can’t Beat the Wild

(Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports)
(Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports)

The first game after the Olympic break showed many Oilers weaknesses. The team went 5-1-1 before the Sochi break, but that momentum didn’t carry into Thursday’s game against the Minnesota Wild. The Oilers play was a bit listless, and they were shut out for the eighth time this season. Five of those eight shut outs have been on home ice.

Much of the post-Olympic training camp had focused on a stronger power play, but the team went 0 for 4 in the game and didn’t generate very many chances. The game as a whole was entirely underwhelming, as the players tried to shake off the rust after the Olympic break. Taylor Hall acknowledged that the post-Sochi rust was there, but was disappointed that the Oilers could not shake it off as quickly as the Wild.

“A lot of rust on our part. We’ve got to be better. They had the same (Olympic) break as we did, and we did not play well.” @hallsy04

— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) February 28, 2014

The team tweeted on Friday morning that their practice would be open to fans who want to see how their team is preparing to take on Calgary on Saturday evening.

FYI #Oilers fans, the team will practice at Millennium Place in Sherwood Park this morning starting at 11am. Open to the public.

— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) February 28, 2014

Nail Yakupov Suffers Ankle Injury

Nail Yakupov took a Justin Schultz shot off the right ankle in front of the Wild net in the second period. He stayed on the bench after the shot, but was forced to head to the dressing room and did not return to finish the game. He also did not attend the Oilers’ practice on Friday morning. Luckily for the team, nothing is broken. Yakupov hopes to be ready to return to the Oilers’ lineup Saturday night.

Defensive Worries

Newly acquired Mark Fraser and Corey Potter both sat out in favour of Russian Olympian Anton Belov. Belov had a strong Olympic tournament, but was -3 in his first game back in the NHL. This led to a lot of questions regarding his future in the NHL. Belov played in the KHL for several seasons before signing with the Oilers in the offseason. He has a goal and five assists in his first year in the NHL, but a +/- rating of -14 showcases his defensive struggles.

The Oilers have a lot of strong defensive prospects playing for their AHL affiliate, the Oklahoma City Barons. Oilers’ General Manager Craig MacTavish said he is hoping to bring some of these prospects up for an NHL tryout before the season is over.


With both goaltenders’ contracts ending at the end of the season, the last twenty-one games will undoubtedly be a tryout for Ben Scrivens and Ilya Bryzgalov.  Head Coach Dallas Eakins said on CHED’s Oilers Now earlier in the week that he will likely give more starts to Scrivens, but it is dependent on how well he plays. An improved goaltending situation will hopefully help the Oilers have a strong start next season. Ilya Bryzgalov will take over in net against the Flames for Saturday’s Battle of Alberta.

Trade Deadline

Ales Hemsky (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)
Ales Hemsky (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

The trade deadline is now less than a week away. Trade rumours have swirled around Ales Hemsky and Sam Gagner for years, and it remains to be seen if they will still be Oilers once the deadline passes. Hemsky had a very good Olympics, with three goals and an assist for the Czech Republic. Sam Gagner has struggled this season after missing thirteen games with a broken jaw. The Oilers have played him at centre and on the wing this year, but he has yet to match his offensive production of previous years. Despite these struggles, the young centre may be extremely attractive to multiple teams at the deadline.

All of these questions will be answered by Wednesday’s trade deadline.

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