As mentioned during the introduction, Nail Yakupov continues to be the main story line in Edmonton despite Horcoff returning to Edmonton. It’s unfortunate that the former captain isn’t getting more recognition and rather the focus is on the young Russian and his comments questioning Dallas Eakins over his ice-time.
Eakins addressed the media today following the Oilers skate and as noted above, they Yakupov playing with Mark Arcobello and veteran Ryan Smyth. The coaches philosophy is that given the leadership from Smyth and how well Arcobello is playing (who makes others better), it was logical to put the struggling Yakupov with both players.
It’s hard not to argue that Yakuopv should be playing with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and/or Taylor Hall, arguably the team’s best players. Hall has been playing extremely well since returning from his knee injury and Nugent-Hopkins has a way of getting people the puck, seemingly out of nowhere. But this is the coaches decision and we’ll see how it turns out tonight.
Interestingly enough, David Perron has averaged a point per game against the Stars over his career and could be a thorn in their side tonight if he continues to play his agitating style.
Yesterday the Oilers announced that feel-good story, Taylor Fedun was reassigned to OKC and Corey Potter was recalled to take his place. The move made little sense to the fans of Oil Country and even when the reasoning of having a heavier shot on the power play and a bigger body in Potter wasn’t enough to diffuse the anger that fans showed on Twitter. Let’s hope the move pays off for the Oilers tonight.
The Oilers haven’t scored a goal on home-ice in two straight games so when Eakins says the first goal is important, that could be an understatement. Eakins was referring to the importance of getting the home town crowd into the game and on their side, hence the need to score first. At this rate, scoring a goal period would be considered a positive for the Oilers.
The Stars power play has been sputtering of late, going just 2 for 29 over their last 9 games. The Oilers penalty kill has been better of late and this could factor in on which way the game swings tonight.
Oil on Whyte prediction: Oilers Win 4-3