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THE TEAM TODAY

The Team Today: Road Ready

Oilers spend final practice day in Edmonton before starting marathon road trip

Friday, 06.11.2009 / 3:17 PM / The Team Today
By Kristi Hennessy  - edmontonoilers.com
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The Team Today: Road Ready
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2009
BYE BYE ALBERTA

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The Oilers met for one last practice as they prepare for their long upcoming road trip starting in Denver on Sunday night. Khabibulin earned a much needed day off for rest today but will start the road trip off against the Avalanche. With the Oilers dropping six of their last seven games, most players would agree that this road trip is coming at a good time.

"Sometimes it works in your favor when you get on the road. When you can get the guys together and get more of a positive energy surrounding our team," said Captain Ethan Moreau. "It's worked to our advantage in the past and hopefully that's the case."

The Oilers will aim on getting back to the basics and as Quinn said today. "Go in with the tools you have and win the battle that way. That's what we have to do, we have to figure that part out."

"It's been a rough couple games here the last little while. It'll be nice to get back on the road and just get back to a simple game and making sure we do the little things well and do them right," Fernando Pisani said.

"At home you try to get too fancy and too cute. That's not necessarily the best way to play. You have to get ugly goals and have to get the dirty goals and throw pucks at the net and hope for the best."


ILLNESS & INJURY UPDATE

Other than Khabibulin who did not attend practice today, there were seven other players absent due to injury or illness: Shawn Horcoff (shoulder), Ales Hemsky (shoulder), Ladislav Smid (sick), J-F Jacques (back) plus Sheldon Souray, Ryan Stone & MarcPouliot.

"We've been trying to figure out who's going and who's not going," said Pat Quinn. "Apparently Horcoff maybe, for the middle of the trip to get some practices and Souray might come along to get some practices. Those things are being decided today."

"Smid is apparently stronger today as far as his illness is concerned," Quinn said. "Possibly he'll go but maybe not for the first game. Jacques I don't even know on him, we'll have to find out where he is. Hemsky could be day to day. We have to figure out what's going on there too. He's having a little trouble with his shoulder. Stone is not coming on this trip."

"We had nine names that we were listing off this morning trying to figure out whether their going to be with us or not with us. I guess we'll see who shows up at the plane tomorrow," said Coach Quinn.

Author: Kristi Hennessy | edmontonoilers.com
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2009
LINE-UP CHANGES CONTINUE

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The Oilers returned from their short two game road trip and aren't wasting any time on getting back to work to find a much needed win. Mike Comrie and Steve Staios both took to the ice this morning which is very positive for the Oilers. Sheldon Souray was also scheduled to skate today, however not with the team. With Smid home sick today, and a few others questionable, will they have enough guys for tomorrow?

"We still have numbers. The question mark is Comrie, if he's ready to go. That was his first full practice in quite awhile. He seemed to get through it alright," said Quinn. "Right now I'm assuming he's going to be fine for us, but if that's not the report we get then we'll look to be calling someone up."

"I've started to feel a little better every day. The last couple of days have been a vast improvement," said Mike Comrie.
"I know a lot of guys have had the flu bug but just because of my asthma its been a little harder to get better as quickly as I'd like to have. Its been almost two weeks now. The last couple days I have been better. I haven't been coughing as much and I'm able to catch my breathe and haven't had a fever," he said.

STAIOS GETS A FULL PRACTICE


Staios finally got a full practice in this morning and says he feels good. He talked a little bit about how hard it is to be out of the lineup and how eager he is to get back in and bring the energy and intensity level up for the Oilers.

"Everybody is working hard and trying to do the right things. We just haven't been able to get it done. Hopefully we can start to raise the intensity and start getting some wins," said Staios.

"I feel energized again. You realize how much you miss the game when you're sitting out. You realize how privileged you are to be playing in the league and I'm really excited about getting back in," he said.

HORCOFF OUT WITH SHOULDER INJURY

"Right now it looks like we'll move Gagner in, who had a game with Penner and Hemsky before and maybe the line we go with for tomorrow. In the meantime, Cogliano and Brule will fill in the spots and away we go." said coach Pat Quinn.

"It's a shoulder injury and I won't be playing tomorrow. It's day to day right now but not tomorrow for sure. It just needs to be rested and it will heal sooner rather than later but its going to take a little bit," said Horcoff.

With the absence of Shawn Horcoff, some of the other players such as Gagner, Brule and Cogliano will have to step it up a notch to fill the void.

"Horcoff obvioulsy brings a lot of elements to our team. He's a guy who can beat you at a lot of ways and he's been a huge part of our team," said Sam Gagner. "Even if he hasn't put up the amount of points that he's accustomed to, he's a huge hole for us to fill. At the same time, guys have to step up if he is out for any extended period of time."

Author: Kristi Hennessy | edmontonoilers.com
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2009
SICK BAY ROTATION CONTINUES

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MOVEMBER LINKS
The Oilers skated at the NY Islanders' practice facility Sunday afternoon, and while one player was notably absent, two rejoined the fold.

Shawn Horcoff did not join the team on the ice due to the flu. There is no word yet on whether he will play Monday vs. the Islanders.

While Horcoff was off the practice list, Mike Comrie and Lubomir Visnovsky were back in their gear after missing recent games due to illness. Injured defenceman Steve Staios also skated, proving he is one step closer to returning to the line-up.

"I feel much, much better," Visnovsky said after the practice. "This is my first practice with the team and it's not easy after the four days I didn't skate."

"I can't tell if I will play or not (tomorrow), but we will see after the morning skate"

According to Comrie, his recovery was complicated by an asthma diagnosis. "With this type of flu, it's been a struggle to catch my breath. It's been challenging because you want to get out there, you want to play, but at the same time if you're not going to help the team there isn't a point to be out there and playing."

With the constant changes to the line-up, Head Coach Pat Quinn said it's too early to say who will dress vs. the Islanders.

"We don't know if they'll be back playing yet, but at least they got a workout in. Steve's like (Fernando) Pisani was -- there's so much time off, you're almost half afraid to get them in without some practice days, but we'll just see how he is tomorrow. I'm not planning on him right now but hopefully Visnovsky and Comrie come back in," said Quinn.


MOVEMBER UNDERWAY


It's November 1st and that means that thousands of men across the world are getting crafty with their facial hair by growing moustaches for Movember, a month-long fundraising challenge in support of prostate cancer research. This year, seven Oilers are getting in on the 'stache action.

Gilbert Brule, Taylor Chorney, Sam Gagner, J.F. Jacques, Patrick O'Sullivan, Ryan Stone, and Zack Stortini have all committed to growing moustaches this month.

"A couple of my buddies from back home did it last year. I got a few guys together this year and we're going to raise some money for prostate cancer hopefully," Gagner explained.

"By the time the month's up, I don't know how much of a moustache I'm going to have, but I'm going to try my best," Brule said.

While it may take a week or two for some moustaches to develop, Stortini is confident that his won't take too long.
"I usually grow it pretty quick; it kinda comes natural," he added.

"I'm probably going to end up regretting it because I'm probably going to look like a fool, but I guess if everyone's doing it, why not," Taylor Chorney said.

MASKED MEN

50 years ago today, Jacques Plante debuted the hockey mask, and during yesterday's game in Boston, Nikolai Khabibulin put his to good use. The Oilers goalie stopped a slapshot from intimidating defenceman Zdeno Chara with his noggin, resulting in a noticable dent in the mask frame.

Here's a photo of the damage:

Nikolai Khabibulin's dented mask after a collision with Zdeno Chara's slapshot. (Photo by Steve Taylor | edmontonoilers.com)


Author: Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2009
RETURN TO ACTION?

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The Oilers left Edmonton at 10am Friday morning and landed in Boston at 5pm local time. Notable additions to the traveling contingent were injured veterans Fernando Pisani and Steve Staios, as well as Mike Comrie and Lubomir Visnovsky, who recently missed a number of games due to the flu.

After arriving at the team hotel, Head Coach Pat Quinn said Pisani and Staios will likely participate in the morning skates but are questionable for Saturday's afternoon game (11am MDT) vs. the Bruins and Monday's game vs. the Islanders.

"We wanted to get certainly practice or ice time with the group, get them travelling again," Quinn explained. "Steve, he did pass the most recent test. He's been out three weeks and Fernando's been longer than that, so they need some scrimmage time. I'd be afraid to just throw them to the wolves without an actual scrimmage-type practice or two to have them acclimatize. It's almost the same as starting all over again."

However, Quinn added that in a pinch, the players could dress.

"It wouldn't be fair to throw these two in after such a long time out, but I guess if there were some emergencies, we'd consider it."

As for Comrie and Visnovsky, Quinn said they are being assessed day-to-day. "I don't think if we had to play tonight either one would be fine with it. We'll assess them again in the morning. Both came with the thought that there was a possibility for tomorrow, and we'll have to see that in the morning."

KID LINE KAPUT?


With Comrie's potential return to the line-up, the status of Edmonton's "Kid Line" -- featuring Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano, and Robert Nilsson -- is in doubt. In Thursday's game vs. Detroit, the trio produced zero points, only four shots, and were on the ice for three of the Red Wings' five goals.

"The line ended up being a pretty heavy minus on the night so you wouldn't want to continue that," Quinn explained. "One thing Detroit does when they decide to do it, is they can check well, and that's what happened. The second half of the game they decided to check a little bit and it changed it for the guys like the kids on that line. Earlier on, they had a little bit of room. Although they didn't put any in the net, they still had some play.

"So against a more physical team, and a team that's going to fight you for space all the time, we have to really consider what our lines look like."

AFTERNOON DELIGHT NOT SO DELISH

The Oilers play their earliest game of the season Saturday vs. Boston, and Quinn isn't thrilled with the 1pm puck drop (11am Edmonton time).

"That dates back to the 60's that they've had their afternoon game, so they're used to that. We don't do it very often," the Coach said. "This is one of the examples of unfortunate scheduling I would say, where you play at home and have to travel, get a practice in, and have to play in the middle of the day. I don't think any team would feel good about that."

You can follow the Oilers-Bruins game right here on edmontonoilers.com or on Rogers Sportsnet West.

Author: Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com
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