Getting it Started
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
23 days ago
There’s no time like the present for the Edmonton Oilers to start clawing their way up Western Conference standings instead of hanging around like also-rans, and that means making the most of what looked like good news at practice today.
Durable Leon Draisaitl was back on the ice after missing games against Seattle and Winnipeg with a core muscle injury. And Klim Kostin, who fell into the boards against the Jets in the final seconds and appeared to twist his ankle, was also back in the line rotation. Both look like they could be ready for a must-win rematch against the Kraken Tuesday.
The Kraken come calling at Rogers Place with 42 points, just like the Oilers. The thing is, Seattle, 19-12-4, has three games in hand on the 20-16-2 Oilers. Right behind, the Colorado Avalanche are a single point back with three games in hand. Simply put, the Oilers need to put some wins together and mitigate those games in hand.
We know the impact a healthy Draisaitl, who sits at 21-36-57, can have on putting a win streak together that can provide a push up the standings. Draisaitl skated today between Warren Foegele and Kailer Yamamoto. Kostin, meanwhile, has been a pleasant surprise since coming over in a trade with St. Louis for Dmitri Samorukov on Oct. 9 and then being promoted from Bakersfield a month later.
WHAT THEY SAID
Dec 30, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Edmonton Oilers forward Klim Kostin (21) punches Seattle Kraken forward Brandon Tanev (13) during the third period at Climate Pledge Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports
The big Russian has impressed in the 22 games he’s played with the Oilers to this point and getting him back in the fold will be a much bigger story than it looked like it might be when he first got here. He skated on a third line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Mattias Janmark today. If Draisaitl and Kostin are ready to go, it’s a big boost to start the New Year – Kostin indicated Sunday on his Instagram account he’ll be ready to play.
“I see Klim as someone taking advantage of an opportunity,” said coach Jay Woodcroft after the team skated. “He’s someone who is playing with a second and third effort and I think that’s something that’s appreciated by our fanbase. I think it’s a characteristic of our community.”
As for Draisaitl, he showed what a horse he is by toughing it out in the playoffs last season with a bad ankle. He simply doesn’t miss many games. There was some speculation this injury might keep him out for a while, but that’s apparently not the case.
“Good,” said Draisaitl when he was asked how he felt after the session. “I skated the last couple of days and it feels good. I think I recovered pretty well, pretty quick. Maybe a little quicker than I thought it would, but I’m happy with the way it’s feeling and we’ll see how it goes from here.”
Asked about having any New Year’s resolutions, a question that was going around, Draisaitl wasn’t biting. He simply smiled. “Just wishing for a lot of wins, a lot of wins coming our way. Wishing won’t be enough, so we’ve got to put in the work and get some wins here.”