Tag: James O’Brien


Yakupov ‘not happy’ about being a healthy scratch


Edmonton Oilers coach Dallas Eakins surprised many by making 2012 top pick Nail Yakupov a healthy scratch on Saturday. While a message might have been sent, Yakupov told the Edmonton Journal that he isn’t happy … and he’s just going to change the way he plays.

“I’m not happy about it. I just want to play every game,” Yakupov said.

“I’m going to play my game … I’m not going to change but maybe play better without the puck, or forecheck more, but I love playing with the puck. I really don’t like skating all the time, and forechecking, and hitting somebody every shift. I don’t think it’s my game.”

Yakupov, 20, proved divisive last season with his flamboyant goal celebration(s). It’s refreshing to hear him be so frank about his style, but some might want him to add a little more “sandpaper” to his game.

As far as Eakins is concerned, he just wants to make sure that the talented sniper doesn’t try to do it all by himself.

“The kids’ passion is to score and he was just going to take it all on himself to do that,” said Eakins. “I don’t care how good you are, you can’t produce by yourself in this league. You have to use your linemates, so it was more of a reset button for him. He can come in fresh with a new perspective.”

If you judge Yakupov by his recent numbers, there might be some merit to that philosophy.  Yakupov had more goals (17) than assists (14) for the Oilers and did the same in the KHL (10 goals vs. 8 assists) in 2012-13. His goal-to-assist ratio is almost 1:1 in recent years, so that might make some wonder if he “makes his teammates better.”

(Jeff Carter’s a polarizing player to many, and he provided the most startling example of that disparity with his 26-goal, 7-assist campaign in 2013.)

Really, that’s a viewpoint held largely by nitpickers, though. The Oilers probably won’t be too worried if Yakupov ends up with more goals than assists some seasons, as long as he doesn’t go through too many stretches where he fails to produce either.

(H/T to Kukla’s Korner.)

Report: Gionta returns to Habs in Winnipeg


Brian Gionta is expected to arrive in Winnipeg on Sunday, TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie reports.

One would assume that he’ll be able to play for the Montreal Canadiens against the Jets in Winnipeg on Tuesday, then. The 34-year-old captain has been dealing with “personal reasons” during this early part of the 2013-14 season, missing Saturday’s 4-1 win against the Vancouver Canucks.

Those off-the-ice distractions haven’t totally thrown off his game; he has a goal and an assist in four games, with nine shots on goal.

The Habs are playing strong hockey so far, but it never hurts to have your captain in action.

Photos: Ducks celebrate the Mighty days


The Anaheim (previously Mighty) Ducks are celebrating their 20th anniversary by donning jerseys in honor of those Disney-inspired duds Sunday as they host the Ottawa Senators for #ThrowbackNight.

The Senators might seem like an odd choice, but there’s something fitting about facing the team they won their lone Stanley Cup against … while not wearing the sweaters that remind some of knucklepucks, the flying-V and Emilio Estevez.

Anyway, the team shared a few photos, so here are a few. (Click here for a great panoramic view of the locker room.)

source: Getty Images



(PHT will update this post with a photo of Teemu Selanne in the new-old sweater tonight, because … come on.)

As an added perk, the Ducks Web site also shared some great photos from a game that happened about 20 years ago against the Detroit Red Wings.

Warning: You might experience Guy Hebert nostalgia.