Young Edmonton Oilers forwards learning on the fly in playoff race
Two young wingers are trying to find their way with the Edmonton Oilers, but can Kailer Yamamoto and Jesse Puljujarvi learn on the fly in an intense playoff race?
Yamamato returned Wednesday against Vancouver after missing eight games with an upper body injury. Puljujarvi, who Oilers coach Ken Hitchcock wanted called up from the minors shortly after he took over behind the bench in November, played only 6:09 against the Canucks. Hitchcock said after the game that he didn’t like Puljujarvi’s board play.
“You don’t try to develop them. You run them until they run out of gas. Then when they run out of gas, you back them off and work with them again,” Hitchcock said after Friday’s practice. “When we play them and put them in the lineup, we don’t treat them as 20-year-olds. They’re players.”
But can they play well enough to help the Oilers? Every point will be critical as the team tries to sneak into a playoff spot. Having two forwards learn on the fly doesn’t seem like a winning formula as teams ramp up the intensity.
“It’s a little bit overwhelming at times. They found another gear since Christmastime in the league that they didn’t anticipate. They’re having a difficult time,” Hitchcock explained. “We talked to Jesse about it today. He can’t believe the difference in the temperature of the games now. It’s going to take some getting used to. But like I said to him, you’re expected to play and play well when you put the sweater on.”
“It’s a little bit easier to make plays in junior,” Yamamoto said. “I think up here, I’m just trying to make plays quicker, get shots to the net and get traffic to the net.”
The Oilers will face one of their toughest tests of the season when they host the second overall Calgary Flames on Saturday. Catch the game on 630 CHED with the Faceoff Show at 6:30 p.m. The game will start at 8 p.m.
Watch below: Some videos from Global News’ coverage of the Edmonton Oilers’ 2018-19 season.
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