The return of Adam Henrique is now more crucial than ever for the Oilers

If the 5-4 loss in game one versus the Canucks proved nothing else, it's that the Edmonton Oilers need Adam Henrique back in the lineup as soon as possible.
Los Angeles Kings v Edmonton Oilers - Game Two
Los Angeles Kings v Edmonton Oilers - Game Two / Codie McLachlan/GettyImages

Let's be clear in stating that the Edmonton Oilers screwed up in game one of their seven-game series versus the Vancouver Canucks. There's no excuse for giving up a three-goal lead in a game where you've scored four times yourselves.

At the same time however, it's still just one game. Win on Friday night, and the Oilers will get a crucial 1-1 split on the road and in the process wrestle home-ice advantage from the Canucks.

In order to win game two, the Oilers need every edge they can get. This includes having Adam Henrique back in the linueup.

Henrique has proven to be an excellent addition since his trade from the Anaheim Ducks (via the Tampa Bay Lightning). He immediately provided a boost in the top six, which continued over into the first round of the playoffs versus the Los Angeles Kings.

A badly-timed injury for the Oilers

Unfortunately for the Oilers, the 34-year-old suffered an ankle injury during the series-clinching 4-3 win over the Kings. To begin with, it was claimed he would be ready to go for the beginning of the second round series against the Canucks.

However, even with a week off before playing again it was soon clear something was not quite right, as Henrique continued to be held out of practice. Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch finally admitted on Tuesday that the forward was doubtful to play, before he was officially ruled out a day later prior to game one in Vancouver.

While there are no guarantees the presence of Henrique would have changed the outcome of the series opener, it would have at least put the team in a better position. The combination of his experience, high hockey IQ and talent would have proved invaluable in the heat of playoff battle.

So when will Henrique be back?

Of course, this all leads to the question of when the 2008 third round draft pick will actually return? As per Daniel Nugent-Bowman of The Athletic, he has been listed as day-to-day, which Knoblauch saying he hopes the two-time Memorial Cup winner can play in game two.

The fact Knoblauch is hoping as opposed to expecting, does not necessarily instil the most confidence in Henrique being ready to go on Friday evening in Vancouver. This is the same type of language Knoblauch used when discussing his player's injury status on Monday in the lead-up to game one.

To be clear, we appreciate that it is better for the Oilers to be careful with Henrique's situation as opposed to pushing for him top soon. They need him to be as healthy as feasible when he does finally return, to create less risk of re-injuring himself.

Next. No excuses for Oilers' 5-4 loss to Canucks in Game 1. No excuses for Oilers' 5-4 loss to Canucks in Game 1. dark

At the same time though, Wednesday night's demoralising 5-4 loss highlighted the Oilers need Henrique back desperately, alongside Connor McDavid and Zach Hyman on the first line. As much as his value was proven by being out of the lineup, the team would understandably much rather have him show his importance on the ice.

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