Edmonton Oilers To Get Huge Boost To Lineup On Saturday

To say that the Edmonton Oilers' defence struggled in their opening night 8-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks would be the understatement of the young season. But great news for the Oilers on Friday as their best defensive blueliner, Mattias Ekholm, is expected to return for their next game Saturday night. Just what the doctor ordered.

"I think he's had really good days," Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft said Friday of the defenceman, who missed all of training camp. "I think part of us holding back from the last game was more just us trying to be as smart as possible in getting Mattias what he needs in order to get him ready to play. He looked good out there to me and had another good day."

And despite the training camp pairing of Evan Bouchard with Darnell Nurse on the first pairing, it's now believed—based on reps at practice on Friday—that Ekholm will once again line up with Bouchard upon his return. That pairing was dynamite last season once they were united after the trade for Ekholm at the deadline. 

According to TSN Oilers reporter Ryan Rishaug, "based on practice today, if Ekholm is in on Saturday, it looks like it'll be he and Bouchard (paired together)."

For Ekholm, he told reporters last week that his efforts to return from a hip injury that he sustained during offseason training were "going on a bit longer than I anticipated... it's way slower than I thought."

But all looks good now as the big-bodied blueliner has practiced all week and seems set to return. 

And the best news for the Oilers, if Ekholm is back, is that it'll come in a rematch against the Canucks. Edmonton has a chance for immediate revenge of that 8-1 drubbing, and to wipe that ugly season-opening loss out of their minds. 

Photo: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports