The Team Today: All Smiles
Oilers meet for off-ice workout Saturday, reflect on Friday's win over Wings
SATURDAY, MARCH 20, 2010ONE DOWN ...
It took 11 starts but Dubnyk earned his first NHL win Friday night vs. Detroit and was still all smiles the day after accomplishing the milestone.
"It was tough going to sleep last night, just keep going through the game in my head," he said. "It feels really good today, a relief. It's been a little while since I won a game and that one was obviously pretty special."
HEARTBREAK, THEN CELEBRATE
The win wasn't so easy to come by: Edmonton held a 2-1 lead into the dying moments of regulation, but with 0.3 seconds left on the clock, Detroit's Brian Rafalski caught the puck and snapped it into the net to force sudden death.
Dubnyk isn't dwelling on the game-tying goal and is instead proud of the result.
"I'm just happy it turned out the way it did," he explained. "It's just one of those things -- it happened the way it did, and it was unfortunate, but in the end we got the two points, we got the win and it really doesn't matter how it turned out as long as we got that win."
The win was secured in three shootout rounds, capped by a pad save on Valtteri Filppula.
"It was amazing -- just seeing the puck rolling into the corner, just finally got it done. I just wanted to go head first into the bench with those guys but I thought that might be a bit much," Dubnyk laughed.
"It was great and special to celebrate it with those guys. I know that they were all working real hard for me, it was fun to win one with everybody out there."
FLOCK OF FALCONS ON HAND
Due to an astounding number of injuries this season, the Oilers roster is currently packed with Springfield Falcons call-ups, including Dubnyk and defenceman Theo Peckham.
"We've been playing together for the last three years. I've been going over to his house to play PlayStation every day for the past three years, so it was definitely cool to get him his first win," Peckham said.
"You've been through a lot with those guys, obviously a tough year last year and we were doing well this year when we were there, so you get to know these guys as teammates and as friends and it's fun to battle with them," Dubnyk added.
"As much of a personal good feeling it is to win the game, I think more than anything for me, it feels great to be out there with all those guys and have them all working as hard as they did to get the win."
NEXT UP: SHARKS
The rookie goalie isn't taking it easy now that he's in the win column: after dedicating part of Saturday to replying to 76 congratulatory texts from friends and family -- "I didn't even know I knew that many people," he joked -- he's setting his sights on Sunday's battle vs. the Sharks.
"It's just a relief to get that first one out of the way, but the way the schedule is, we're right back at it and it's not time to sit back and sit on one win," he said. "It's a good day today, enjoy it, and get ready for tomorrow."
OILERS ASSIGN MINARD
One call-up who assisted with Friday's victory but won't be on hand for Dubnyk's next test is forward Chris Minard. Saturday afternoon, the Oilers announced that Minard had been assigned to Springfield.
Minard was called up as an emergency replacement for forward Patrick O'Sullivan, and with his departure, it looks like O'Sullivan will dress vs. San Jose.
Author: Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com
FRIDAY, MARCH 19, 2010OILERS vs RED WINGS:
AT THE MORNING SKATE
A depleted crew took to the ice for Oilers morning skate Friday, with Ethan Moreau, Tom Gilbert, and Shawn Horcoff among the absentees.
In keeping with Head Coach Pat Quinn's "win and you're in" goaltending schedule, Devan Dubnyk will get the start tonight. With 10 starts on his resume, the rookie goalie is still looking for his first win -- a cause Quinn says the team is rallying around.
"He's liked by his teammates and they know he's been working hard and I think they would certainly very much appreciate a good result for him tonight," the coach said. "It means we'll have to be a lot better than we were against, say, the Wild to help our goaltender achieve that."
A win tonight over Detroit will be a tough task, but the Oilers say they're up for it.
"Obviously they're a great team and they've got a lot of skill, but it just makes us more keen on our system work and more focused," Assistant Coach Kelly Buchberger explained. "We know they've been playing better of late and we've got to make sure we come out ready tonight."
Forward Shawn Horcoff added that although the Wings struggled earlier in the season, they have bounced back and are yet again a force to be reckoned with.
"They're a team that has also battled some injuries this year and it's affected where they are in the standings, but they're pretty close to healthy now, outside of maybe (Jonathan) Ericsson, and they seem to be playing well so it's going to be a real tough test tonight," he said.
Young blueliner Taylor Chorney is prepared to face a playoff-hungry club tonight.
"They're a team that has made the playoffs for probably like the last 15 years or something crazy and right now they're on the bubble so you've got to figure, as a veteran group, they're pretty hungry and I'm sure they're going to be coming in ready to play," he said. "For a young group like us, it's definitely a good challenge and I'm looking forward to it."
Sam unconcerned with line switch
After being demoted to fourth line at yesterday's practice, Sam Gagner could be frustrated with the change, but the young forward had nothing but positive things to say Friday morning.
"No matter who you're playing with, you've got to find a way to contribute. We're rolling four lines right now and everybody's getting the opportunity to play equal minutes, a lot of minutes, and I think obviously that's a good thing for guys going forward."
Gagner takes pride in his effort on the ice and said that being a good teammate is his number one priority as the season winds down.
"You want to be a guy that your teammates look to in important situations and they say, 'He's going to show up, he cares, and he wants to be a winner," he explained. "I think if you don't have that respect from your teammates, you're not going to go a long way in this game.
"It's the most humbling game there is. The only thing you can really bring is your effort and your preparation, and from there, hopefully gain the respect from your teammates and move forward. Everybody in here is looking towards doing that."
OILERS 3 - RED WINGS 2 (SO)
After taking an early 2-0 lead and staving off the Red Wings through the majority of the game, the Oilers seemed destined for a 2-1 win -- rookie goalie Devan Dubnyk's first -- Friday night. But with less than one second left in regulation, Detroit's Brian Rafalski scored to shatter the dream and force extra time.
Thankfully, Dubnyk knew how to put it back together: with two saves in overtime and two in a shootout, the Alberta native got the monkey off his back and earned the first 'W' of his NHL career.
Andrew Cogliano and Ryan Whitney scored Edmonton's two goals, while Gilbert Brule assisted on both plays and was credited with the shootout game-winner.
Author: Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com, with files from Bob Stauffer
THURSDAY, MARCH 18, 2010RETURN TO REXALL
The morning started with two on-ice photo sessions, including the official team photo and a group photo featuring players, management, and team staff.
After the lights and benches were cleared away, the players donned their practice jerseys and returned to the ice. Although he didn't participate in the drills, forward Patrick O'Sullivan made his first appearance since injuring his hand March 9 vs. Ottawa.
"My fingernail came off completely and there was some damage done to the tissue that's underneath," he explained. "Yesterday I skated with a glove on; today's my second day doing that. I can't shoot, I can't really grip my stick. I had surgery the day after to repair most of it."
O'Sullivan is the eighth player on the team's current injured list, and the four games he's missed have pushed the Oilers man-games lost this season to an astounding 426.
I've never seen anything like it, a situation where there's as many guys hurt at one time as there is," he said. "It's frustrating. It's one more thing to add to a tough year, a pretty disappointing year."
'IT'S BEEN TOUGH'
O'Sullivan isn't the only player to be disappointed and frustrated by how the season's turned out. Faced with a fourth season of missing the playoffs, the Oilers are trying desperately to stay positive and finish on a winning note.
"It's a little tougher when you're out of the playoffs and things like that, but at the same time, you want to finish strong," Ryan Whitney said after practice. "There's a big difference between the last 12 games going 2-and-10 or going into next year going 8-and-4 or 9-and-3. It sounds tough now, but you'd feel a lot better about yourself in the summer and I want to be a part of that."
Devan Dubnyk has experienced a roller-coaster season, and despite being winless in his 10 NHL starts, the rookie goalie takes pride in the improvements he's made.
"I've been up, down, all over the place -- It's been tough," he admitted. "The 'no wins' thing is obviously a real tough issue right now, but I can honestly say that each game I've felt a little better and I'm starting to get more comfortable and confident.
"It's not a situation that anybody wants to be in, but you need to take the opportunities that you get and you need to be able to deal with that, put the losing aside. You can't think about outcomes, you've just got to keep focusing on the things that you need to do to get better."
RED WINGS TOMORROW
The Oilers open a four-game homestand tomorrow when they take on Pavel Datsyuk and the Detroit Red Wings. The Wings have won seven of their last nine games as they battle for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Limited tickets are still available.
Author: Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com, with files from Dan Tencer and Kristi Hennessy