Two games of sitting in the press box is a stern message sent from Edmonton Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins to Nail Yakupov. The Russian sniper hasn’t been apart of the team’s gameday lineup in two straight contests and it’s obvious that the rookie coach has sent his message. It’s now time to see if the young stud in Yakupov received it and absorbed what his bench boss was trying to get across, but either way, it’s time to re-insert number 64 in the Oilers lineup, starting tonight.
The Oilers have managed just one point out of a possible four since the scratching of the former first overall pick and if last night’s game was any indication, the team doesn’t need two enforcers in the lineup. Rather, they need goal scorers and Yakupov provides that.
Sure he doesn’t have a point this season, let alone a goal, but keeping him in the press box night after night won’t help this team win, especially when you have both Luke Gazdic and Mike Brown dressed instead.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have a few players that can chuck the knuckles but let’s be honest, that isn’t their game. Not when you have the star power that the Penguins possess. Tthe Oilers don’t need both Brown and Gazdic in the lineup to compete with Pittsburgh’s toughness, not when winning this game is more important than winning a fight or even having more than one tough guy in the lineup in case things get out of hand.
Yakupov makes the Oilers a better team when he’s playing. There is no denying his talent and despite his struggles, he still brings value to this hockey team. There have been times this year that he has looked lost on the ice, more times than not to be honest. But it’s not as though the Oilers won their first two games of this horrific road trip and can afford to blow one tonight in Pennsylvania.
The natives in Oil Country are beyond restless and a lopsided loss to the Penguins tonight without having Yakupov at least attempting to contribute might be enough to cause a riot at Rexall.
Mr. Eakins, if you don’t mind that I address you that way, please put Nail Yakupov back in the Oilers lineup tonight. The message was sent, loud and clear. It’s now up to the player to determine if he received it or not and chances are you’ll see a motivated young hockey player tonight in Yakupov. That could be the spark this club needs to turn things around.