Last night in the Big Smoke, Dallas Eakins decided not to play Nail Yakupov. The first cut is the deepest, but what are the reasons behind the move? Was the move warranted? Was the move inspired by something real or imagined?


Tough question. Usually, when an offensive player isn’t scoring that’s a reason to give them a chance to view things off-ice in an effort to get some distance from the problem and re-set the player. The Oilers had plenty of offense last night, so a one game scratch for Yakupov wasn’t fatal to the team–and there’s an added positive if he can take something away from the evening.

YAK STATS (last year in brackets)

  • Boxcars: 4, 0-0-0 -3 2pims (48, 17-14-31 -4 24pims)
  • Time on ice: 15:16 per game (14:34)
  • Shots on goal: 10 (81)
  • Missed Shots:4 (32)
  • Blocked Shots: 4 (49)
  • Shots at goal per game: 4.5 (3.375)
  • 5×5 Corsi For %: 55.1 (42.5)
  • Offensive Zone Start: 44.7 (32)
  • Defensive Zone Start: 13.2 (34.1)

All info from the dynamic Extra Skater. I think there are some things we can see in these numbers year over year, and with the understanding that it’s very early we can probably agree:

  • Yakupov is getting more playing time overall this season.
  • He’s shooting more this season.
  • The Oilers are going in a much better direction in terms of possession this year with Yakupov on the ice.
  • Eakins is getting him a much better zone start so far this year.


I think the play that got Yakupov in trouble was the Brandon Prust goal. Yakupov played it properly (to my eye) by covering the defenseman and giving Gordon support, and the play didn’t feature the Oilers being outnumbered until Ryan Smyth was slow to engage (my read on the play, you may see it differently).

Anyway, he didn’t aggressively engage Subban who made an effective pass to Moen, and that might be the quibble. 


Not much in the career of Nail Yakupov or Dallas Eakins. The coach is clearly onside with giving Yakupov a push, he’s giving him ice time and offensive zone starts (if not the cream of the crop linemates). The coach felt Yak City wasn’t where he needed to be at this point and sat him. Eakins said after the Montreal game “he was out of sorts all night” and had cut back on the Russian’s playing time as that game wore on.

And Eakins scratched Yakupov Saturday night. Message sent, message received.

  • YFC Prez

    I don’t disagree. But why the free pass for hall ? Untill last night he was way out of sorts. Dubnyk as well ,If there is a player that needs to sit its dubnyk. He is loosing games for the oil. I like accountability from the coach but yak is not at the top of the requiring accountability list.

    I am excited to see how he reacts though. A lot of pride in Yakupov.

    • Lowetide

      Hall has 5 points, Yak zero. Hall was playing center, Yakupov was in his normal position. Hall is in his fourth season, Yak has yet to play 82 games.

      As for Dubnyk, agreed. He needs to find his game before getting another start.

  • Zamboni Driver

    As a fan of neither Alberta team I find it completely hilarious that Calgary has declared a rebuild less than a year ago and looks to be ahead of Edmonton.

    Edmonton has been handed first round pick after first round pick and has done nothing to add to it.

    Losing is a culture and Edmonton has adopted it just like the Islanders have for so many years.

    Management better pull their head out and realize the problem in a hurry.

    Trading Yakupov would should be in the works to help address these needs.

    • Rob...

      “I find it completely hilarious” Yeah, well little children giggle uncontrollably at peakaboo as well.

      I doubt Bob Mckenzie or any other sports media guy that isn’t a homer would take Calgary’s line-up over Edmonton’s. The Oilers have had years where our line-up royally sucked yet have had an amazing first 10 games (2011-2012 we started the season winning 7 of 10, but where did we finish again)?.

      • Keep your head in the sand….

        Edmonton has 3 or 4 good pieces and has done nothing to support them.

        How long do think it take before those pieces want out of Edmonton?

        Cow town does not have a star player they have a team that comes to play every night.

        Keep handing out big contracts to players who have NOT accomplished a dam thing in the NHL and you have a losing cap team. Boy that sounds familiar!

        Get rid of Yakupov and address some problems (Goaltending, Defense)

        • Trade Yakupov, ya, lets go down this road shall we.

          How did trading Chara work out? Bertuzzi, Luongo, McCabe, Palffy.

          How did those trades work out??

          Careful what you think is tradable material, taking from Peter to pay Paul does not work.

    • Cheap Shot Charlie

      Calgary is crappy at everything they do. They can’t even tank for their rebuild. Just brutal!

      As for the Oil’s culture of losing…that’s nothing new.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Rookie coaches are going to make their share of mistakes too, I guess. Just one of many mistake Eakins will make this season. To single out Yakupov when there’s a dozen players who’ve struggled mightily these first five games is bogus.

    If only we had a goaltender who could stop the puck, the Oilers would be 3-2 now. This Yakupov error would have been taken care of with a 5 minute meeting in the coaches office.

    Only a fool would sit Yakupov over Devan Dubnyk (the real problem).

    • Dockstaff

      You can’t bench everyone at once. It sends a message to everyone while still putting our best players on the ice. Yak hasn’t had the same energy he had last year – could be why him and why now.

  • Zamboni Driver

    Not a damn thing wrong with a kid being sat.

    The level to which we overvalue our stars is ridiculous (anyone going to admit using Dubnyk and “Olympic Team” in the same sentence?) This is the same team that stupidly kept Sam Gagner around…the city that freaks out every time someone gets sent to the minors.

    Hell, we freak out when someone gets benched (not that that has happened to anyone in years around here).

    19 year old kids are stupid by definition.

    What’s wrong with cluing him in?

    • Lowetide

      Spot on. He learned more from watching than he would have being on the ice and ‘out of sorts’. He’s not in the dog house, he’s being coached. This is going to pay dividends in his development and we’ll see the results shortly, for the player, the team and the coach. The Smytty benching last year was about far more than just his on-ice contribution.
      We shouldn’t criticize coaches for doing nothing and then question their motives every time they actively coach their players.

  • Oiler63

    Dubnyk may not be as bad as he looks right now but he simply can’t handle the pressure. In the past three seasons when he played well, the team wasn’t expected to win so there’s nothing to lose and low pressure on the goalie to deliver. Now the expectation is high and all world’s attention is on him, he simply couldn’t handle it.

    Don Cherry nailed it yesterday on oilers’ problem. Just play the loosey goosey game. You got nothing to lose. It’s not like you are defending a cup or something. Don’t over think about everything. Just play a simple game.

    • Lowetide

      That’s the way I saw it too, but NHL coaches have been sitting youngsters and playing vets for a hundred years. Yakupov was doing other things too (stickhandling through 3 players when he was all alone) that indicate frustration/trying too hard.

      He’ll be fine.

  • Eakins has a rep of being good with young players like Kadri so hopefully he has a plan with Yak but to my eye the kid needs to play with top skilled players like RNH & Hall . Then Arco ,Perron & Ebs / Gordon Hemsky & Joensuu . Smyth to the 4th with Acton / ?

  • I don’t mind Yakupov sitting. however, Yakupov is clearly being made an example of.

    If Hemsky isn’t sat next game then we know this to be true.

    Hemsky’s clearing attempt on the tying goal was shameful at best!

    Taylor Hall (God Love him) has been directly responsible for 4 Oilers goals against.

    How would any other coach play this?

    I would say a vast majority would stick Yakupov with Hall and RNH and let him play his way out of the mess he’s in.

    Instead, Eakins sticks him with defensive players and watches an almost pure offensive player struggle??

  • 106 and 106

    Good time to sit him. Yak will be fine. The issue coming at us like a freight train is the Acton vs Arcobello argument once Gagner returns. What a nice argument to have. Arco 75% in the face off dot last night with 3 assists and one glorious chance to put the game away. Acton has been solid.

    MacT will have some nice options come the end of the month if this trend with Acton and Arco continues.

    Put Yak up with Hall and RNH next game.

    DD needs to get his a$$ out of his head. Because its filling his head up with stuff that is affecting his game. Bring up Bachmann. Send DD to OKC for a 2 week conditioning stint. He is not helping the team with his current play.

    The panic button has been pushed. And its screaming a 5 alarm fire.

    The good news. Tambo is not GM. MacT won’t let this go on to long before. Where is Dwayne Roloson when you need him?

      • Spydyr

        Justin Schultz lit it up in the AHL last year. Perhaps some time down there learning to play defense and build up some confidence would be just what he needs.

      • Czar

        Personally I think Nuge should not have been sent in for that face off to start with. Here’s a guy that’s played tons of minutes, only his third game ,not to mention a 37% F/O rate. Eakin had three 70% + guys sitting.

      • Admiral Ackbar

        You nailed it on that one. Nuge was quite obviously punched in the back there. I can understand letting the call go in OT but this resulted in a scoring change, and ultimately a goal. Should have been whistled down. I thought it was a poor non-call. Nonetheless, Nuge was playing around with the puck at the offensive blue-line. That’s a mistake in OT, a rookie move.

        I don’t mind sitting Yak. The kid was getting too frustrated and needs to get his emotions on track. I bet this’ll be good to him. I also think that the accountability demand has affected all forwards: hence Smitty & Ebs last night.

        As for accountability. The D, giveaways in the offensive zone and Dub’er need to be addressed.

        Oil should have won that game 5-2. That was a shameful loss.

    • 106 and 106

      I have on a few blogs. They are both very similar. Though yesterday should have been a penalty. It was still his fault and he needs to make a play. He looked fatigued in both cases.

      1 case was a 2 on 1 for the back breaker againstmontreal.

      Last night was a 3 on 1 for the loss in ot.

      Not saying he played bad. I do think he need time to reathe off the ice.

  • 106 and 106

    It’s only a matter of time when even the professional hockey writers are going to start scratching their heads trying to figure out Dallas Eakins new multiple systems in multiple zones?

    Is it just me or do all the players look confused? Our regular defensive defensemen with plenty of NHL experience, look like five year old’s chasing the puck around. Even JW gave Nick Schultz and SMID extremely low grades for last nights’ game. Yaks gets scratched, Eberle looks lost out there most of the time, Hall is trying to do 3 players jobs out there, and RNH is running into his own players with no one to pass to.

    At some point in time I think we have to ask Eakins about his system and why no one understand this system……..or is that the system? I say I have seen NOTHING to suggest we have any system, let alone multiple systems under this new coaching philosophy.

    To me it looks like we should re-name the system to the Chaos System.

  • Oilers Coffey

    Great eye Lowetide, I didn’t catch where it was Smyth who was caught watching the play and let his man sneak in down low for the tap in.
    Yakupov was sitting low covering his man and Gordon was trying to be all over Suban. Pj makes a great play on the blue line and Yakupov half engages with Gordon already there. Suban was clearly not Yakupovs dzone responsibility, but gets the finger for the goal.
    If Smyth the veteran is aware of the back side presence, this is a non goal.
    1200 Game vet should be aware of that.

    What’s done is done. I do hope Yakupov takes a page out of Ovechkin & Kovalchuks book to shut up the critics.

  • Oilers Coffey

    Many posters are blaming a variety of players for missed assignments, I for one am holding Eakins multiple systems in multiple zones to account.

    Seasoned NHL players look totally lost out there playing this retarded system. Someone, anyone poke a microphone in Eakins face and ask him why no one seems to understand this system of his?

    • Cheap Shot Charlie

      Of course they’re confused. This is their 4th coach in 5 seasons. Continuity is the path to take here, not more change.

      To me, Yakupov sat because he is feeling the pressure a little bit and maybe sitting this one out will give him a different perspective. He’s still a rookie if you think about it and there is no doubt that he cares. He will be back in the lineup before long and when he does, I think he will be better for the experience.

  • The Oilers Shot Clock

    Why are so many people assuming Yak was being punished? Things get learned in the press box too I’m guessing. It’s development. He’s 19. This is the norm. He didnt sit to learn a lesson, he sat to learn the system.

    His agent I’m sure can appreciate this too. Rumour has it he was a pretty complete player in his day.

  • The Oilers Shot Clock

    I am hoping sitting Yakupov is also a message to the other wunderkinds on this team that they may sit as well.

    Yak has too much skill to stay cold for long. The Oilers are in a slump, plain and simple. Ironically, none of us have seen the Oilers in slump at the beginning of the season in a very long time.

  • washed up

    The oilers should have traded Yak at the end of last season when his stock was high. That’s what good GM’s do. In Oilerville they wait until the players are banished to the press box or the minors.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I hope it snows soon….winter gives us strength… we are northerners… winter is coming. Men….oilers….embrace the power of the universe…you will dominate teams, make them your b***h..Take strength from inside… primal…real. believe it…….also, time for magic line4-93-64

  • Cheap Shot Charlie

    There’s a reason why the Edmonton Oilers have been the worse run franchise in the last eight years. We have a brutal vice president of hockey operations in Kevin Lowe thats run our club into the ground. Four coaches in five years. A soft team, poor goalietending, terrible defense and our top two lines are a combined plus/minus of minus 25. The same issues we ve had the last five years we still have now. But let’s make Yakupov accountable for poor play. Its all his fault. I love it. Number one pick overall here we come. Book it. There it’s on record.