December 28 2016 02:01PM
The Oilers were back on the ice after a four-day Christmas break, but Andrej Sekera was noticeably absent. Sekera blocked a shot on his foot late in the San Jose game, and if he's out any period of time it would be a huge blow.
The Oilers defence has been able to play well despite injuries to Darnell Nurse, Brandon Davidson, Mark Fayne, Kris Russell and Eric Gryba and various times, but Sekera has been their best D-man all season and he'll be very hard to replace. After practice, Todd McLellan said Sekera reported back from the Christmas break feeling under the weather and they will see how he feels tomorrow.
Kris Russell moved to the left side in practice and was paired with Matt Benning. Benning also replaced Sekera on the top PP unit. He has excellent vision and puck skills in the offensive zone and gives the Oilers a second right-handed shot on the first unit PP, if Sekera can't play.
Sekera has 11 points in his last 13 games and he's been their best D-man by a large margin the past few weeks. Even if he is out only one game it would be a big loss.
We will find out tomorrow how he feels, but I do wonder if he also has a tender foot after blocking that shot late in the game.
Jesse Puljujarvi skated with Drake Caggiula and Zack Kassian this morning and it looks like he'll play in the next few games. His parents and younger sister are here and were watching practice this morning, and like any 18-year-old who has moved away from home, he was pretty excited to have his family around.
Puljujarvi hasn't played much recently and I asked McLellan about his progress and development.
"We will keep him going here for now, obviously losing Tyler (Pitlick) is a big blow to our team, a right-handed shot who could score and create on the forecheck, we are on thin ice as forwards as it is, so Jesse may get some more playing time over the next little bit, but ultimately we want to win games and secondarily we want young players to develop," said McLellan.
He feels Puljujarvi was playing his best earlier in the season, and hinted he'd like to get him so more playing time, but much of it comes down to the coaches confidence with lines and players in specific situations.
If they keep Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on Draisaitl's right wing, then Puljujarvi is likely going to be on the fourth line with Caggiula unless they can get going. Mark Letestu has played excellent recently and Caggiula/Puljujarvi will be battling his line for ice time.
"In my opinion his play has fallen off a little bit, and that can happen to a young player," said McLellan on Caggiula. "The game has gone to another level now, and he's got to graduate and make that next step. I think there are opportunities for him to be much more assertive with the puck and attacking and making plays. We talked to him about it, and we'll give him a chance and see where he is in a couple of weeks," continued McLellan.
With two homes games Thursday and Saturday, McLellan has last change and he could put those young line in more favourable positions, but they will need to make the most of their opportunities.
Good teams don't have to force feed young players minutes, and while a stint in the AHL could be a possibility down the road, if they can play 10-12 minutes a night then they will still learn a lot playing in the NHL.
- Benning, Caggiula, Letestu, Kassian, Puljujarvi and Davidson were the only players to score in the end-of-practice shootout. Right now I think Letestu, Draisaitl, Eberle and McDavid are the top four guys, and whatever rotation McLellan chooses for a specific game, but how the others do in practice will determine who goes if the Oilers get past the first four shooters.
- McLellan made a great point about Klefbom. "I think sometimes Klef gets unfairly put up with the elite, but he's only played 140 games, but he probably was elite on our team, but he needs more time and experience. On many other teams everyone would be happy with him coming in and where he is at. I don't see much difference in Benning and Klefbom, except Benning gets to come in at a much better time for the organization and expectations on him are lower."
He wasn't comparing Benning straight across to Klefbom, just how different they are perceived, and how much they had to play as rookies.
Klefbom has had an up and down season, which is expected considering his lack of games played at the NHL level. Sekera is their top left defender, and with Davidson rounding into form, on nights when Klefbom is struggling the Oilers can look at other options, without worrying there will be a massive drop off.
Our 6th annual Month of Giving was extremely successful again. We set a new record, $100,359.00, despite the economic downturn, which shows just how generous Edmonton and the surrounding area is. Thank you very much to all the TSN 1260 listeners, sponsors and readers here at the Nation who helped make it a great 17 days.
I started the Month of Giving in December of 2011 with the hopes of raising $25,000 for various charities who help less fortunate people in Edmonton. I was blown away when we raised $50,400.
We raised $55,600 in 2012, $77,150 in 2013, $92,765 in 2014, $85,250 in 2015 and an amazing $100,359 this year.
In six years we have raised $458,524.00.
You have helped us make a difference in many people's lives, for simple necessities like food. We should never take for granted how lucky some of us are, and I believe we need to look out for others and I'm so grateful that the listeners of TSN 1260 and the readers of Oilersnation feel the same way.
I want to thank all the sponsors who donated auction items:
Realtor Michelle Derk
Pro Am Sports
The Ranch Golf and Country Club
River Valley Health
West Edmonton Mall
On the Rocks
Auto City Edmonton
The Edmonton Oil Kings
Barrie Stafford and the Edmonton Oilers Alumni
Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson and Ruth's Chris
Blackhawk Golf Course and Al Prokop
Michael Anthony Jewellers
Vivo Ristorante, Ryan Smyth and Mark Letestu
Chop Steakhouse, Brad German and Jason Strudwick
I would also like to thank those who bid so generously on all the packages, if you didn't win but still bid thank you for increasing the prices. It allowed us to raise more money.
Thank you Bryan, Chris, Miles, Bryce, Bryan, Joe, Sheldon, Arnold, Ryan, Gregg, Jim, Blair, Patrick, Derek Ty, Dustin, Derek, Mark, Shane, Jeremy, Scott, Marc, Mike, Emil, Damon, Jeff, Bruce and Mike.
Also to those who helped in our Pyramids of Hope. I asked 10 people for $100, then I donated $500 and asked eight to match the $500 and one for $1000. Another day we asked 10 people of $100, I would donate $1000 and then asked three others to match the $1000. We ended up raising $5400 one day and $7200 the other day. Both times it took less than 30 minutes. We helped the Holiday Hamper and Adopt-A-Teen this way. I believe I can't just ask people to donate without donating myself. It worked out incredibly well, and I think we will do those pyramids again next year.
We helped out a variety of different charities. Your donations and bids helped many who really needed it: The Christmas Bureau, The Holiday Hamper, M.E Lazerte high school breakfast program, The MS Society, Operation Friendship Senior Society, Alzheimers, Rotary Breakfast program, Santas Anonymous and Adopt-A-Teen.
Thank you Edmonton and surrounding areas. We live in a wonderfully generous community and I'm proud to call Edmonton home.
Thank you once again, and please know you made Christmas and the next few weeks much more enjoyable for many people in need.
God bless you.
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