This time last year Nail Yakupov was putting the finishing touches on his acclaimed rookie campaign. Through his last eight games, he scored five goals to vault to the top of the league’s leaderboard among rookies, with 17 goals and 14 assists, edging out the Florida Panthers Jonathan Huberdeau with his late push. But any thoughts of orchestrating another strong finish were erased when he was left with a cracked bone in his ankle. Initially injured on Feb. 27, Yakupov missed the following tilt, returned to the lineup for seven games then stepped out of the lineup. He’s missed the last eight and with just four games remaining, all on home ice and all squeezed into a seven-day window, he isn’t expected to return. He’ll close out his season with 11 goals and 13 assists through the 63 games he played in a trying sophomore campaign that even saw him head to the press box as a healthy scratch. “Even if he is able to skate, he’s going to need three or four days of practice and we’ve run out of practices,” said head coach Dallas Eakins. “We’ll see where that is, but I would doubt (he’ll play).” Meanwhile, captain Andrew Ference did skate with the team on Friday morning but still can’t shoot so he was not in the lineup against the Coyotes. He’s missed the last four games with a rip in his pectoral muscle. “He was able to pass pucks and kind of sweep them at the net but no shooting yet,” said Eakins. ----Pinizzotto makes the rounds So far this season, Steve Pinizzotto attended the Florida Panthers camp, played 21 games with the San Antonio Rampage before being traded to the Oklahoma City Barons for whom he played 27 games before joining Edmonton in Anaheim to fill in for Tyler Pitlick, out with a knee injury. Pinizzotto played 10 minutes against the Ducks and got in another game on Friday against the Phoenix Coyotes with Pitlick again on the sidelines.
Oilers’ Yakupov suffers from NHL sophomore jinx
Edmonton Journal | Apr 6