First steps – Canada Today
There’s no time like the present for the Edmonton Oilers to fight their way up the Western Conference standings rather than hang around like the pack, and that means making the most of what looks like a good one in -practice message appeared today.
Long-serving Leon Draisaitl was back on the ice after missing games against Seattle and Winnipeg with a core muscle injury. Klim Kostin, who fell into the boards against the Jets in the last seconds and apparently twisted his ankle, was also back in the line rotation. Both look like they could be ready for a must-win rematch against the Kraken on Tuesday.
The Kraken call Rogers Place with 42 points, as do the Oilers. The thing is, Seattle, 19-12-4, has three games in hand against the 20-16-2 Oilers. Right behind is the Colorado Avalanche, one point behind with three games in hand. Simply put, the Oilers need to string together some wins and ease those games in hand.
We know the impact a healthy Draisaitl at 21-36-57 can have when he puts together a winning streak that can propel him up the rankings. Draisaitl ran between Warren Foegele and Kailer Yamamoto today. Kostin, on the other hand, has been a pleasant surprise since coming in a trade with St. Louis for Dmitri Samorukov on October 9 and was promoted from Bakersfield a month later.
December 30, 2022; Seattle, Washington, United States; Edmonton Oilers forward Klim Kostin (21) beats Seattle Kraken forward Brandon Tanev (13) during the third period at the Climate Pledge Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports
The tall Russian has impressed in the 22 games he has played with the Oilers so far, and getting him back on the roster will be a much bigger story than it seemed when he first came here. Today he rode the third line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Mattias Janmark. If Draisaitl and Kostin are ready to go, that’s a big boost to start the new year – Kostin revealed on his Instagram account on Sunday that he will be ready to play.
“I see Klim as someone who takes an opportunity,” coach Jay Woodcroft said after the team’s run. “He is someone who plays with the second and third try and I think this is something that is appreciated by our fans. I think it’s a feature of our community.”
As for Draisaitl, he showed what a horse he is by struggling through a broken ankle in last season’s playoffs. He just doesn’t miss many games. There was some speculation that this injury could keep him out for a while but this seems not to be the case.
“Okay,” Draisaitl said when asked how he felt after the session. “I have been skating for the last few days and I feel good. I think I recovered quite quickly. Maybe a little faster than I thought but I’m happy with how you’re feeling and we’ll see how it goes from here.”
When asked about any New Year’s resolutions, a question that has been asked around, Draisaitl didn’t bite. He just smiled. “I just want a lot of wins, a lot of wins to come. Desire will not be enough so we have to work hard and get some wins here.”