Injured Oilers winger will join team on road trip, but needs to pass concussion test
EDMONTON - Edmonton Oilers winger Lennart Petrell had been skating for two days after taking a puck in the head a week ago in the pre-game warm-up for the Colorado Avalanche game, but was kept on injured reserve for the Phoenix Coyotes matinee game Saturday.
“He failed the NHL concussion test,” said Oilers coach Ralph Krueger. “They told us one out of six players feels no symptoms but still fails the test, post-concussion.”
Petrell will go on the nine-game road trip which starts Monday in Chicago, but will have to take the cognitive test again and pass it.
“We’re going to get a copy in Finnish this time,” joked Krueger.
With Petrell on IR, it allowed Krueger to keep both Magnus Paajarvi and Teemu Hartikainen, who scored against the Coyotes, here. One of them was going to Oklahoma City if Petrell was deemed ready because of roster numbers.
“The call-up (or send-down) situation for this road trip (Chicago, Dallas, St. Louis, Minnesota, Columbus, Detroit, Nashville, Chicago, again, and Colorado) will be one airplane ride away,” said Krueger, who has eight defencemen on the roster and only 13 forwards, for now.
Winger Ryan Jones played his first game since eye surgery New Year’s Eve, getting 14 minutes’ work.
Oilers captain Shawn Horcoff, out since Feb. 5 with a busted knuckle, will go on the road trip and might play late in the trek. He’s missed the last eight games.
With Taylor Hall’s two-game suspension, Krueger liberally moved people around in his top nine.
“You mean the 99 different line combinations,” he said, with a laugh.
Ryan Smyth played on the first, second and third lines, for instance. Nail Yakupov started on the fourth but was on a line with Sam Gagner and Jordan Eberle in the second period, setting up a goal. Ben Eager jockeyed in and out.
Krueger followed the party line on Hall’s two-game suspension for his knee to Cal Clutterbuck’s thigh Thursday night at Rexall Place.
“I haven’t looked at (the footage) since the first time I watched it,” he said. “It is what it is. I trust the way the NHL does things, how they make their decisions. They have lots of information I don’t have.”
Hall, who has 16 points, will also miss Monday’s game against the Blackhawks in Chicago.
Krueger decided to play Corey Potter on defence against Phoenix and sat Theo Peckham even though Peckham had a strong game Thursday against the Minnesota Wild in his first game of the season.
“We’ve never scratched Corey over anything he’s done. It’s a combination of roles and numbers. We’ve liked him and we want to keep him in the mix,” said Krueger, who has sat Potter seven times, but no more than three scratches in a row. Potter played 16:51 against Phoenix.
Krueger liked the work of Peckham against the Wild.
“Coming back off the long break, he played a Theo type game. He was physical, moved the puck quickly. We felt comfortable with him in the lineup,” said Krueger, who shrugged when asked about having two blueliners sitting every game.
Ryan Whitney was scratched for the fifth time in the last nine games. That situation must be coming to a head. They can’t keep sitting their highest-salaried defenceman even if Krueger says every NHL team is looking for eight able-bodied NHL-calibre D-men.
Some people say Krueger wasn’t Mr. Nice Guy before the Friday light skate, as he sternly got his message across before practice.
“That’s possible,” he said, chuckling softly.
He wanted his team to get grittier and compete with more desperation, battling considerably harder. He was like a school teacher, angered at the kids in class for misbehaving, but there was no chucking of a chalk brush.
“I don’t throw things,” laughed Krueger. “I’ve said before that positive doesn’t always mean friendly. I count this as a real critical point in our season to stay with the pack with this road trip coming up. I know there’s been a lot of emotion in our room the last 48 days, and thankfully we got this win against Phoenix.”
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