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Game Thread: Oilers at San Jose - The Return of Todd

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Todd McLellan returns to San Jose for the the first time.

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

After seven seasons the San Jose Sharks and Todd McLellan decided to go their separate ways last spring when the Sharks missed the playoffs for the first time since McLellan took over prior to the 2008/09 season. During his time in San Jose McLellan coached the Sharks to 311 regular season wins and another 31 in the playoffs. At his current pace with the Oilers it'll take McLellan 10 years to match that win total behind the Edmonton bench. And if you win 31 games a season you never make the playoffs so those 31 wins playoff victories would forever remain unmatched.

And let's be honest the Oilers aren't making the playoffs this season, extending their drought to ten seasons, matching the Panthers for the longest in NHL history. For a while, there was the faintest of hope that the Oilers could squeak into the playoffs, but with the team now seven games on the wrong side of the NHL's version of .500, six points out a playoff spot, and with almost every team in their division having played fewer games, the hope is all but gone now. Perhaps if Connor McDavid had been able to return a month earlier things might have been different for the Oilers, we'll never know though.

Even if McDavid is still a few weeks away from a return, the Oilers will have a couple of new faces in the line-up tonight. Zack Kassian will dress for the Oilers for the first time after being recalled yesterday. Since being traded to the Oilers from Montreal at the end of 2015, Kassian played in four games scoring a goal for the Condors. His job with the Oilers will be relatively simple: play aggressive hockey, be a pain in the ass, stay out of the box. One of those three he can do in his sleep, the other two will dictate how successful his time with the Oilers will be.

Joining Kassian in the Oilers' line-up tonight will be Nail Yakupov, not new face but not one that Oilers fans have seen since late November when he sprained his ankle in one of the most bizarre sequences I've ever seen in a hockey game. Yakupov's season started out wonderfully when paired with McDavid, he could do almost no wrong, after McDavid's injury though things cooled off for Yakupov, and then he got hurt because that's how things go for Yakupov. If he could recapture some of that early season magic right now, even with McDavid still on the injured reserve, it would likely go a long way towards kick starting a struggling Oilers team that is currently watching another season slip away.