Daily Update: Saturday's story
Oilers participate in off-day practice before Sunday's final pre-season test
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2009SATURDAY'S STORY
In previous seasons, the line-up for the final pre-season game was a preview of the season's starting roster, however this year, Head Coach Pat Quinn emphasized that evalutations are still underway and Sunday's line-up will not necessarily reflect the regular season squad.
"We've played some guys five times, and rather than grind them, we'll look again at some others that are in the competition up front," Quinn said after practice.
"We're still watching and looking. We haven't stopped evaluating, and we feel that there's a lot of guys that are close. We think that we've got NHL skill past the 12 that we're going to select as far as forwards are concerned. I think our defence is pretty much set ... and probably our goaltending, at this point."
Although Quinn admitted the lines will be shaken up Sunday, Saturday's skate featured Shawn Horcoff between J.F. Jacques and Ales Hemsky on the top line, Patrick O'Sullivan between Dustin Penner and Mike Comrie, and Liam Reddox between Fernando Pisani and Jordan Eberle.
At the tail end of practice, Quinn addressed the players as a group. Though the conversation was beyond earshot of the gathered media, the coach was assertive and animated in his delivery.
When later asked about the meeting, Quinn said the topic of discussion was work habits.
"I've always felt that practices are very important and that you have to execute and look for perfection there because that becomes the habit that you take on the ice during the games," he said.
"It's like any group that's trying to come together to do something that's beautiful: You practice. Talk about a symphony orchestra, for crying out loud. They practice and practice, more than we do, to get it right for performance day. We want to do the same sorts of things as far as our attention to being professional, to improving, to getting better, to getting ourselves ready to play. And that has to happen here."
"As we're seeing the games play on, I think he's seeing some weaknesses in our game that he'd like us to pay a little bit more attention to," Sheldon Souray added. "We're making it probably a little easier on other teams and a little harder on ourselves by some of our play and positioning in the defensive zone, so I think that's been one of the big focuses, especially in today's practice: play hard defensively and we're going to get our chances offensively."