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What you need to know about COVID-19: September 21, 2020
Through the first three days of Edmonton Oilers Phase 3 camp, Andreas Athanasiou looks like the designated left-winger with Leon Draisaitl.
And it’s his job to stay there after moving around through his first three weeks with his new before the NHL paused March 12.
“Obviously, he’s a highly-skilled player we traded for,” said coach Dave Tippett, whose side gave up two second-round picks and Sam Gagner. “Coming into this camp, we wanted to give him this opportunity and see what he can do. Looks like he could be a good fit with Leon and Yamo (Kailer Yamamoto) with his speed. We’ll see how it goes.”
Athanasiou has only been in the playoffs once, as a Detroit rookie in the spring of 2016.
“We played Tampa in the first round. I think myself and (Dylan) Larkin were the youngest guys. We lost in five games,” said Athanasiou, who scored a goal in that series, and now has two points in his first nine Oilers games. “Leon’s a world-class player. When you’re around him every day, you see how he controls the play, he’s really good at finding the open man. Unbelievable skill set. Fun to play with.
“it’s your job to build chemistry as fast as possible.”
WHO GETS IN GOAL?
Tippett wouldn’t say if he would play Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith for 30 minutes of the exhibition game against Calgary on June 28, or go with the guy he thinks has been better in the Phase 3 camp for the full 60 minutes in preparation for the qualification series.
“We’ll continue to scrimmage a lot and we’ll monitor our goalies to see where we’re at,” said Tippett. “We’ve got lots of time.
“But I’d like to have had more than one game so we could play more players. But we don’t have that.”
Tippett knows there’s bad blood between the Oilers and Flames.
“I think people will read more into it than is there,” he said of the exhibition. “You better use that game wisely to make sure your team game is in order.
“I think we can take the rivalry out it. I mean, it’s one game and you’re into the playoffs.”
Same story from Calgary coach Geoff Ward.
“This is as close to a playoff simulation as we’re going to get. The guys aren’t crazy, they know what’s at stake. This is an exhibition game to get ready for the playoffs,” he said.
The Oilers will start their Chicago series with a 1 p.m. face-off Aug. 1, then Games 2 (Aug. 3) and 3 (Aug. 5) will be 8:30 p.m. starts. The Oilers will be the home team for Game 1 as the Western Conference’s higher seed and in their dressing room, but it’s expected the Hawks will be the home side for Game 2 while the Oilers move out.
“Unusual circumstances coming with this whole scenario, but hopefully guys on other teams get here and see how well we’re treated and how nice our arena is and they enjoy it,” said Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse. “Obviously, you don’t want them enjoying it too much, but we hope they come in and see how first-rate this is.”
Added Tippett: “I think we’re comfortable with our surroundings. We’re going to know how to get to the rink, but I don’t think there’s any home-ice advantage with no fans in the building.”
BROBERG IN THE BUBBLE?
The Oilers invited teenage defenceman Philip Broberg for the Phase 3 portion to have him around NHLers because he’s never been to a main camp, but when Mike Green opted out for family reasons, that left them with 10 defencemen. Now, Broberg might stick around rather than return to Skelleftea in the Swedish Hockey League.
“He’s been a pleasant surprise for all of us,” said Tippett, who watched the left shot Broberg play right side during the scrimmage. “He doesn’t look out of place at all.
“Whether Broberg stays with us will be Ken (Holland, general manager)’s decision.”
The 2019 first-rounder played regularly for Skelleftea as an 18-year-old this past season in a more defensive role, but he’s played against grown men.
The Oilers have 33 players in camp and can have 31 in the Phase 4 bubble.
Goalies Olivier Rodrigue and Dylan Wellsand could be odd-men out but maybe they want to keep four goalies in the bubble, with farmhand Stuart Skinner as the clear No. 3 on their depth chart.
This ’n’ that: Defenceman Caleb Jones again skated afterward with the three extra goalies and some others from the first group. He could be back with the main group Friday … Still no sign of Hawks No. 1 goalie Corey Crawford, which leaves Malcolm Subban as their possible starter for the Oilers series. Defenceman Calvin De Haan (family emergency) was also absent Wednesday for a second day … The Oilers officially loaned farmhand defenceman Dmitry Samorukov to CSKA in Moscow for the Kontinental Hockey League season … Calahoo’s Ian Mitchell signed a three-year deal with the Blackhawks but the former Spruce Grove Saints and Denver University defenceman won’t be eligible for the return to play … Hawks rookie Dominik Kubalik, who had 30 goals in 68 games, is one of the finalists for the Calder trophy. Chicago got the rights to Kubalik from Los Angeles in a 2019 trade, giving up a fifth-round pick.
On Twitter: @NHLbyMatty
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