The Edmonton Oilers have just made a pretty major announcement regarding some significant changes that they have made, or perhaps more appropriately have been forced to make, to their lineup ahead of tonight's match up against Western Conference rivals the Vancouver Canucks.
First according to an official statement from the Oilers, veteran goaltender Mike Smith remains sidelined with an injury to his leg and will not be ready to go this evening when the Oilers face the Canucks. Smith is currently being listed as day to day by the organization and as a result of his injury the team has been forced to make an emergency call up in goal. The man that has been called up for the task is 21 year old Oilers goalie prospect Stuart Skinner. Skinner has spent all 15 of his games played this season with the Bakersfield Condors of the American Hockey League and is currently boasting a 3.23 goals against average and a .890 save percentage on the season.
Smith will not be the only player absent from the Oilers line up this evening however as the Oilers have announced two more players will also be absent. Again according to the official statement released by the Oilers the team has also lost veteran bruiser Zack Kassian to injury. Kassian, like Smith, is currently being listed as day to day due to a back injury and has already been ruled out of tonight's game as a result of that injury.
Last but not least the Oilers will also be without veteran defenseman Kris Russell, although in Russell's case you could argue that his absence tonight is actually something that should be viewed as good news. Sure it is a shame that he will not dress tonight for the Oilers, but the reason he will be absent might change the way you view the situation. According to the Oilers Russell has left the team to be with his wife as they await the birth of their second child and surely no one with any sense would begrudge the man for stepping away from hockey for a moment to share in such a special, one in a lifetime, moment with his family.
Nonetheless those are some big absences for the Oilers this evening as they look to pick up win after losing out to the Canucks last night.