Edmonton Oilers v Phoenix Coyotes

Oilers’ Hall sounds upbeat thanks to health, familiarity


Offseasons have been difficult for Edmonton Oilers winger Taylor Hall beyond the disappointment of badly missing the playoffs. It seems like he’s had to deal with coaching change and/or rehab from a season-ending injury just about every time it gets hot outside.

That’s different this time around, and while some of the quotes provided to the Edmonton Sun seem like familiar refrains about entering a big season, Hall might have a point about some of those pluses.

“That’s a really nice way to go into a year,” Hall said. “There is no awkward handshake at the start of the season (with new coach), it’s a business-like attitude now. I think [head coach Dallas Eakins] feels really comfortable that way and I think all of us players over the course of 82 games got to know what Dallas expects from us and now we can hit ground running at camp.”

More than a few people were calling for Eakins’ head during the 2013-14 season, and even if his style truly might not translate to the NHL, it’s easy to see why Edmonton might want to finally stabilize a worldview that has become volatile even as top prospect after top prospect falls into the Oilers’ laps.

Hall’s injury history makes a solid argument that luck hasn’t always been on Edmonton’s side, either. Maybe a healthy offseason – literally and figuratively, considering some strong signings – will help the Oilers finally turn the tide, though?

(H/T to Kukla’s Korner.)

GM says Blue Jackets are ‘off the rails’ right now

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On Monday, PHT discussed the Columbus Blue Jackets’ troubling start, even if it felt like it may be too early to raise concerns.

Apparently Blue Jackets management is a little shaken by the second 0-3-0 start in franchise history, however.

Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen shared his shock and dismay with the Columbus Post-Dispatch on Tuesday.

“I’m surprised how, in just five days, we’ve gone from a very confident group to something that’s the opposite of that,” Kekalainen told The Dispatch on Tuesday. “Our confidence, our game … it’s off the rails right now.

Maybe losing to the Buffalo Sabres stings a little bit extra?

Kekalainen said “there’s no excuse for how we played in Buffalo,” pointing out that every team in the NHL is a “good team.”

Indeed, just about every squad boasts some dangerous weapons if they catch an opponent sleeping.

The Post-Dispatch goes deeper on Columbus’ recent history of stumbling out of the gate, but consider the foreboding stretch coming up.

Next four games: Three out of four at home
Eight games following that: Seven out of eight on the road.

As you can see, winter is coming for Columbus, so they best get things together. All things considered, this is the right time for a wake-up call.

For bonus chuckles, here’s a photo of Kekalainen on a railing.

via AP

Personal reasons: No Ovechkin for Caps tonight

Alex Ovechkin
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Alex Ovechkin won’t play for the Washington Capitals on Tuesday because of personal reasons, the team confirmed.

He entered the building considerably later than usual, but his presence at least opened the door for the possibility of No. 8 suiting up against the San Jose Sharks.

Instead, the Capitals will face the hot-starting Sharks without Ovechkin (personal reasons) and Nicklas Backstrom (injury).

That’s a tall order, yet it’s also an opportunity for Barry Trotz to prove his system is a difference-maker … and that the Capitals have the young players to take up the mantle when the big stars are out

This is how Washington’s forward lines may look tonight:

No, the Capitals have not shared details regarding what his “personal reasons” might be, by the way.