When Edmonton Oilers coach Dallas Eakins was asked Monday what he expected out of Man Mountain Steve MacIntyre he played stand-up comic. “Second-line centre” shrugged Eakins. Time for a little gallows humour with Sam Gagner having surgery Tuesday to repair two breaks in his jaw and have either a plate or plates inserted and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins rehabbing from the labrum tear in his left shoulder. MacIntyre will do what he’s always done. He’ll protect the skill guys. “I’ll try anybody. Could Ryan Smyth go back there? Absolutely. Maybe Yak (Nail Yakupov) will be a centre. The way (defenceman) Justin Schultz skates maybe I should think of him there” said Eakins tongue firmly planted in his cheek. It’s all hands on deck time obviously with the Oilers beating the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 on Monday on the strength of strong netminding from Devan Dubnyk and goals by auditioning centre Will Acton and Finnish winger Jesse Joensuu (third of pre-season). Another Oiler centre looking for work Mark Arcobello picked up an assist and played 17½ minutes. The other centre trying to foot the bill with Gagner and RNH out Swede Anton Lander didn’t do as much (no shots 4-4 in faceoff circle in 13 minutes) with a game here Tuesday against the New York Rangers and the final exhibition in Oklahoma City against Shawn Horcoff and the Dallas Stars on Friday. Against the Jets Eakins gave his best centre The Winger Formally Known as Taylor Hall the night off. Hall should be resting up — he could easily be a 20-22 minute centre once the season starts with Gagner and RNH out. Eakins had one-time big junior scorer Boyd Gordon as his No. 1 pivot between Nail Yakupov and Linus Omark. He had farmhand Arcobello generously listed at five-foot-nine with Joensuu and Tyler Pitlick on a second line. Lander still trying to find his way was with Ryan Jones and Ryan Hamilton. Acton started between two bangers Ben Eager and Mike Brown on a fourth line. Not exactly Murderers’ Row in the middle. “We will find a solution to this. You need your team to go through adversity maybe not right away like this with our two top guys (out)” said Eakins. “Adversity offers opportunity. If there’s a big-time upgrade somewhere else (waivers or signing a free-agent like say Kyle Wellwood) maybe we look there but right now it’s in house.” “Everybody said I was ringing the bells for fitness well here’s where it comes in. Taylor Hall’s going to play a lot of minutes now. My backup plan (with Nugent-Hopkins out) to have Taylor play centre looks pretty good now. This is also where we’re looking to other players to play more minutes.” Indeed Hall’s gone from one of the best left-wingers in the NHL to first-line centre in 10 days of camp. Gordon who once had 81 points in 56 games in his last year in Red Deer playing for Brent Sutter or Arcobello who was a point-a-game player (88 in 91 games in Oklahoma City last season) will be the No. 2 for now off his efforts in the AHL. “Boyd has more offence than what his goal scoring numbers last year in Phoenix (four goals) would lead you to believe. It (offence) might be enhanced by playing with more skilled players. Phoenix doesn’t have the firepower that we should have” said Oilers GM Craig MacTavish. “Arcobello has looked good to me although you have to be careful about drawing conclusions at this time of year. We’ll get more information when the rosters are pared down. My assessment of guys on the bubble (Arcobello Lander Acton) is it doesn’t take much to push them over the top.” “It’s up to Mr. Arcobello to stand up and show that ‘hey I can do this and I can fill a role.’ We will look to see if he can do it” said Eakins.
Oilers beat Jets, looking at in-house solutions at centre — for now
Edmonton Journal | Sep 25