The Team Today: T.G.I.M.
Oilers take to the ice Monday morning, focus on stretching win streak to three
MONDAY, MARCH 8, 2010PRACTICE NOTES
Dustin Penner - Shawn Horcoff - Fernando Pisani
Patrick O'Sullivan - Andrew Cogliano - Gilbert Brule
Robert Nilsson - Sam Gagner - Marc Pouliot
Mike Comrie - Ryan Potulny - Zack Stortini
Captain Ethan Moreau was not present due to a sore neck, and neither was forward Ryan Jones, who injured his knee Friday night vs. Minnesota and is expected to miss four weeks due to a torn MCL.
As such, the current Oilers roster is stretched to the max and Head Coach Pat Quinn was asked whether the team would be calling up a player up from Springfield.
"I'm to talk to Steve (Tambellini) sometime today and they'll identify if they are going to look at somebody and who it will be and how many games," Quinn explained. "I don't think we should just bring a guy in for one and say 'Oops, you weren't very good. Goodbye.' We need to give him a time to play."
DESLAURIERS ON UPSWING
One player who is getting lots of time to play is goalie Jeff Deslauriers. With two solid performances and a two-game winning streak on his resume, the softspoken 'tender has elevated his play and Quinn hopes to see more of the same.
"I think in goal, of all the positions, you have to be in mental control and it has to be held at a high level, because ups and downs affect not just yourself at the end of the night but it affects the 20 guys that are playing with you," Quinn said.
"Are you going to have off nights? You bet. There's not a person that doesn't have those, but when you are mature and when you get better control, they start to get minimized. He looks like he's athletically capable of being a good goaltender."
"You learn from the ups and downs," Deslauriers explained. "My job is to stay focused, have good preparation and be ready for when I get the call, and obviously my job is to show them that I'm able to do the work. "
When asked if the Olympic break helped him refocus on the task at hand, the goalie said that it was a "good change" for everyone on the team.
"What we had before was a bit more of a negative situation, but the break just cut the mood and everybody had a time to relax and refresh their mind," Deslauriers said. "After the break we came here, we started working hard, and we changed a bit our system. Everybody had to be on the same page and now it's getting better. Everybody is more comfortable in it and we just have to work together to win hockey games."
The Oilers started Monday morning with an internal team autograph session outside the locker room. Hundreds of items were laid out for the players to sign, most of which will be used for contests, charity donations and auctions.
The organization hosts four such autograph signings a year, and Monday's was the last one of the regular season.
Author: Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com, with files from Dan Tencer
SUNDAY, MARCH 7, 2010OILERS 2 - DEVILS 0
Gilbert Brule and Marc Pouliot scored the only goals of the game, while defenceman Ryan Whitney earned third-star honours for his efforts during a game-leading 25:46 on the ice.
The Oilers and Devils were hopping around the ice for the first 10 minutes but managed to tally only four shots on Jeff Deslauriers and Marty Brodeur.
At that point, Zack Stortini gave New Jersey the edge by roughing up winger David Clarkson, but Edmonton dominated on the penalty kill and prevented the visitors from getting the puck on JD.
The Devils created some pressure in the Oilers zone with less than two minutes to play but Deslauriers kept the puck out of the net and the game scoreless. Devils led the Oilers 7-3 in shots after 20 minutes.
Edmonton's first shot of the second period turned out to be the game's first goal. At 1:23, Patrick O'Sullivan cut behind the net and fed the puck to Gilbert Brule out front, who surprised Brodeur with a quick release to make it 1-0 Oilers.
The home team didn't let up after the goal and, thanks in part to a holding minor to Zack Parise, eventually assumed a 10-8 shot lead. A second Oilers powerplay was less successful, but Deslauriers prevented a shorthanded Devils goal and kept his club up by one.
Despite picking up their pace and spending much of the final few minutes in the offensive zone, the Devils were unable to catch up on the shot-clock or the scoreclock and finished 40 minutes down 1-0 and 19 shots to 15.
Edmonton increased their shot lead by five before New Jersey could test Deslauriers for a 16th time. With just under 13 minutes left in regulation, Ilya Kovalchuk caught a breakaway and descended on the Oilers' net, but JD matched shot number 17 with another solid save.
Buoyed by their backstopper, the Oilers regained control of the play and attacked the Devils. After receiving a crisp diving pass from Robert Nilsson, Marc Pouliot doubled Edmonton's lead with a top-shelf wrister from the left face-off circle.
Frustration hit the Devils after the goal, resulting in a nasty shoving match between Ryan Whitney and Andrew Peters. Both players were tagged with roughing minors, but Peters got an extra 10-minute misconduct for his behaviour. With Whitney watching from the sidelines, the Oilers broke 30 shots while the Devils sat at 18.
A late holding penalty to Clarkson gave the Oilers a game-ending powerplay, and although Brodeur stepped up for four more saves, his team couldn't carry that effort into the other end. As a result, the Oilers came away with a 2-0 shutout victory Sunday night.
Author: Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com, with files from Bob Stauffer
SATURDAY, MARCH 6, 2010OILERS PREP FOR RARE OPPONENT
"You get to watch them on TV, you don't get to play against them very often," said Tom Gilbert. "It's kind of hard to get a read on the players they have."
Gilbert did note that a team coached by Jacques Lemaire - as the Devils are - will not take a lot of chances.
"They're pretty passive, they wait for turnovers and the're a great defensive team. We have to focus on the way we play and limit our amount of turnovers."
One big offensive weapon the Devils have is Ilya Kovalchuk.
"You have to take away his time and space, have a good stick," remarked Ryan Whitney. "Once you let him get wheeling you're in trouble. You really want to pressure him, be tough on him."
Ladislav Smid spoke to the media for the first time since the announcement that neck surgery was going to end the blueliner's season.
"It reminds me of last season, missed last 15 games as well," said Smid. "I'm probably going to be out for three or four months. It's going to be hard to get back in shape but hopefully I'll be ready for next season."
Smid's issue is a bulging disc and the surgery required involves the removal of the disc and shaving it to make it smaller before reinserting.
"I'm a little bit nervous but I talked to the doctors and it's a pretty common surgery so I should recover."
Smid's injury just kept getting worse to the point where he requested an MRI coming out of the break. The MRI showed the bulge had gotten much bigger.
"My neck was always an issue but it wasn't as big of an issue for me. These past few months were tough. I tried to play through it but it got tougher."
JONES COMMENTS ON BOOGAARD
Ryan Jones also addressed the media after a knee-on-knee collision with Minnesota's Derek Boogaard. The Wild enforcer was suspended two games for his actions.
"I didn't quite see it coming. It looks bad but nobody's going to mean to do those kinds of things," said Jones. "I know Boogie from the summer and talked to him this morning, it's just one of those things."
The Wild skated at Rexall Place this morning before departing for home. Jones, who trains in the off-season with Boogaard, walked by the 6'7" forward on his way to the Oilers room.
"He was walking by and I was on my way to get an MRI. He looked at me and I just shrugged. It happens, you don't want to be on either side of it but it still happens."
After the hit, Jones returned to the game and played out the remainder of the first period before getting pulled in the intermission.
"I really didn't want to come off. All the tests went well then Kenny (Lowe) saw it on the replay and said he wanted to check it again. It was a precautionary thing, he didn't want it to get any worse."
The game was a good early Rexall Place debut for Jones. He almost scored on one of his first few shifts with the puck just barely staying out and a video review confirming that fact.
"I thought our line was generating a lot of chances down low," he said. "Gags (Gagner) was behind the net, just threw it out and it went off my skate. It was sitting on the line for awhile."
As for a prognosis, it's still wait and see.
"We're still waiting for somebody to read it. I don't want to speculate. We'll let the doctors reveal that."
ON THE BLUELINE
With all the injuries and movement, Edmonton's new top defence pairing now consists of Tom Gilbert and Ryan Whitney.
"He's a really good player. He's solid and he's smart. He can move the puck. He jumps up into the play, as do I occassionally. So one of us has to move back," said Whitney of Gilbert.
Gilbert also enjoyed playing with his new defence partner.
"Last night was pretty good. i think we complement each other really well. He's a great puck mover, solid defensively and we read off each other pretty well," Gilbert remarked.
It was an interesting situation for Whitney as he was in town right before the Olympic Break with the Anaheim Ducks and participated in an on-ice Olympic send-off along with Oilers players and his Ducks teammates. Coming back to Rexall Place, Whitney was welcomed back along with the Olympic contingent - but this time as a member of the home team.
"It's pretty nice to be here. It's a great fan base and it's good to really be welcomed. It's much appreciated. It's a great rink and a great locker room. There's a bright future here, it's exciting."
Author: Marc Ciampa | edmontonoilers.com