THE TEAM TODAY

The Team Today: Oil strike the Midwest

Oilers fly to St. Louis, practice at Scottrade Center Saturday afternoon

Saturday, 27.03.2010 / 5:03 PM / The Team Today
By Jen Sharpe  - edmontonoilers.com
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The Team Today: Oil strike the Midwest
SATURDAY, MARCH 27, 2010
KEEPING UP WITH JONES

  MULTIMEDIA

VIDEO INTERVIEWS  AUDIO INTERVIEWS
PHOTO OF THE DAY HEADLINES
The Oilers started the weekend with a three-hour flight to St. Louis, Missouri and afternoon practice at Scottrade Center, home of the Blues.

Sam Gagner (hip injury) was not present on the Oilers charter, but fellow forward Ryan Jones was. Jones injured his right knee on a hit from Minnesota's Derek Boogaard March 5 and is nearing a return to the line-up.

"I think at this point, it's a matter of conditioning," Jones explained. "The last couple of days have just been getting the mind and the hands and the feet and everything working together.

"You're off the ice for a couple weeks and it's funny the little things -- you think about doing something, and your hands don't do it. So it takes a couple days to get that back."

Jones anticipates a conditioning assessment with the coaches over the next few days and is looking forward to contributing to the team's on-ice efforts as the season winds down.

"I thought today I was better just in practice and we'll see conditioning-wise what the coaches think," he said.

"Any time you're out of the line-up, it's a miserable time -- you spend a lot of time just being bored. But it's a great opportunity for me to show what I can do for the future and play out the rest of this year, help this team win some games. The season's not over and hopefully we'll win a few."


NEXT UP: BLUES

Jones and the rest of the Oilers hope that winning starts Sunday in St. Louis. After building a three-game win streak earlier this week, Edmonton capped their homestand with a 3-2 loss to Anaheim Friday night and is looking for a better showing vs. the Blues.

"We didn't get the same effort that we've been getting for the past few weeks, and when you don't come to play, the result usually isn't in favour," Mike Comrie said about the loss to the Ducks. "I think that if we come to play against St. Louis, we give ourselves the chance to win and stick to our game plan, I think we can have some success."

If you're unable to make it to Missouri this weekend, catch the game live on Rogers Sportsnet West at 4pm MDT.

Author: Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com, with files from Bob Stauffer
 
FRIDAY, MARCH 26, 2010
OILERS vs DUCKS:
AT THE MORNING SKATE


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PRE-GAME VIDEO POST-GAME VIDEO
GAME PHOTO GALLERY
After leaving Thursday's practice early, forward Sam Gagner did not take part in Friday's morning skate at Rexall Place.

Head Coach Pat Quinn later confirmed that Gagner will miss tonight's game vs. the Ducks due to a nagging hip injury and is uncertain about when he will return to the line-up.

"Between he and our medical staff, they decided maybe a little break away would help look after this thing," Quinn explained.

"It was him that pulled himself off, so you know it's sore because he's the kind of kid that keeps pushing through that sort of stuff and has for a while now. So it was clearly sore enough not to try to continue yesterday (at practice) and today he's not going to play, and we'll just see whether time will make a difference for it."

O'SULLIVAN RETURNS

While Gagner is out, the Oilers will keep their forward numbers intact by welcoming
Patrick O'Sullivan back to the line-up. O'Sullivan suffered a gory finger injury March 9 vs. Ottawa and has missed the past seven games.

Although he was cleared to play last weekend, the forward said the extra days of practicing "certainly didn't hurt."

"My finger had more time to heal and the team's doing well. There's no urgency. It's not like we needed to make some changes or do anything like that, so I think those three things combined probably helped me. I was able to get some more practices and that's important," he said.

Despite continued pain in his finger, O'Sullivan is eager to trade the press box for the face-off dot.

"It's not 100% but it's good enough to play and it's one of those things where I play now or I don't play for the rest of the year," he added. "I'm excited for tonight. It's tough watching games."

DESLAURIERS GOES FOR TWO

One player who won't have to watch tonight's game from the sidelines is goalie
Jeff Deslauriers, who will get the start vs. Anaheim.

With both Oilers goalies coming off wins, Quinn could have had a tough decision to make today, but because of Deslauriers' strong performance Tuesday night vs Vancouver and rookie
Devan Dubnyk's continued recovery from the flu, Deslauriers sealed the starting position.

"It was mostly based on a strong game that he had," Quinn explained. "Of course Dubnyk had a strong game before that, but Dubnyk still hasn't had a lot of food in him, to the point where we said one more day for sure."

Quinn concluded by saying that the team will likely alternate goalies through the remainder of the season.

WHITNEY vs VISNOVSKY

One subplot of tonight's game involves defencemen facing former teammates. After swapping teams at the trade deadline three weeks ago, former Duck
Ryan Whitney and former Oiler Lubomir Visnovsky meet eachother for the first time tonight.

Both players are looking forward to game.

"It's always fun playing against guys you've played with," Whitney said. "You can have a couple of little rivalries out there just from having some friends on the other team."

Lubomir Visnovsky

"Tonight, for me, it's a special night," Visnovsky added. "I'm back in Edmonton and I will play against my ex-teammates. I've got lots of good friends there and I will be excited tonight. I think it will be good for me."

The blueliners have excelled with their new teams, and Whitney said it's worked out for the best.

"I'm really happy here, so that's good. That's what I'm kind of thinking about. I don't know [Visnovsky] that well, but the guys said he's a really good guy, he's fit in well there, so it seems like right now it's pretty good."

With Visnovsky in the line-up and a playoff spot in the distance, Whitney is expecting the Ducks to play a tough game tonight.

"I think they're pretty desperate right now," he said. "I don't know if they're technically eliminated, but they've got to win probably the rest of their games so they'll be desperate, they'll be playing hard, and it will be fun."

PETRY TURNS PRO

In other news Friday morning, the Oilers announced they have signed defenceman Jeff Petry to a two-year entry-level contract. Petry, 22, has played the past three seasons with Michigan State University and is expected to report to the AHL's Springfield Falcons for his first professional assignment.


DUCKS 3 - OILERS 2

The Oilers and Ducks eased themselves into Friday night's match-up at Rexall Place, but by the second period, they were playing full force. 20 penalties totalling 66 minutes were assessed between the clubs, and the Ducks dominated, with Corey Perry scoring two powerplay goals in less than two minutes late in the third.

Although
Marc Pouliot narrowed the gap during six-on-three in the final minute, it wasn't enough to force extra time and the Oilers suffered a 3-2 loss. Gilbert Brule scored Edmonton's first goal, while Jeff Deslauriers was solid with 37 saves for third-star honours.

Author: Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com, with files from Bob Stauffer
THURSDAY, MARCH 25, 2010
OILERS GET BACK TO WORK AFTER A DAY OFF

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The Oilers squad joined back this morning for practice after a well deserved day off yesterday. Patrick O'Sullivan looked to be in full strength and is expected to play tomorrow night against the Ducks. Hemsky was back on the ice with the team today and although will not be ready until next season, is happy just to be back with the team on the ice and hoping for a quick recovery.

Devan Dubnyk also took part in the morning skate however did not look quite himself and admits that he is hardly at 100%. He is taking it day by day and hopes to get back between the pipes sooner than later.

One notable observation is that Sam Gagner did start practice with the team but left pretty early. There is no confirmed report yet but Quinn has commented that he feels it is a hip injury that he has been battling with for awhile and that O'Sullivan stepping in might help the situation in a big way if Sam cannot play tomorrow.

"I don't have the report yet," said Quinn. "But he did leave early and I do know that it is an injury that he has been fighting for awhile in his hip."


O'SULLIVAN CLEARED TO PLAY


Patrick O'Sullivan joined the Oilers at Rexall today for a full team practice. He has officially been medically cleared to play in tomorrow night's game against the Anaheim Ducks.

" We felt that he had quite a bit of time off so we wanted to test him on the ice a little bit and see where he was at conditionally," said Pat Quinn. "He's had two or three practices now so he's probably ready to come in."

O'Sullivan commented after practice that he felt ready and could have played against the Canucks. He said that it's managable and he's good to go.

""Either I play or I don't," said O'Sullivan. "It's not going to get any better unless I stop playing. It's ok to play and I want to play. It's one of those things where it's going to take time to heal and playing hockey isn't going to help but we'll be done in a couple weeks and it'll be ok."

DUBNYK STILL NOT 100%

After being hit hard by a flu bug on Monday night and unable to report to the bench to face the Canucks on Tuesday night, Dubnyk returned to the ice today for practice.

"I feel better than I have in the last few days but still not feeling great," said Dubnyk. "Just tired and my stomach doesn't feel too great but it's good to get back on the ice and hopefully it continues to get better.
"

This flu bug definitely did not come at the best time for Dubnyk . He was arguably playing some of his best hockey coming off back to back wins and most likely heading into his third.

"It's never good timing  to feel like this," Dubnyk said. "Obviously not great being in the situation that I was in but
it's one of those things that is completely out of my control."

Author: Kristi Hennessy | edmontonoilers.com, with files from Bob Stauffer
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