The Team Today: Decisions, decisions
Oilers practice in Dallas, weigh line-up options for Friday's game vs. Stars
THURSDAY, APRIL 1, 2010JONES & LINGLET IN THE LINE-UP
Before the team took to the ice, Associate Coach Tom Renney gave Ryan Jones a gruelling on-ice assessment to determine whether he is ready to return to the line-up. The forward passed the test and, according to Head Coach Pat Quinn, will play Friday night in Dallas.
Jones won't be the only recent addition to the line-up. After being signed and recalled from the AHL's Springfield Falcons Wednesday morning, forward Charles Linglet is also expected to play vs. the Stars.
Quinn is equally pleased to have him with the Oil.
"Those are the good stories, about a guy that's been grinding it out (in the AHL) and has continued to improve and has got a lot of points on a not very good hockey team in Springfield," he added. "Here's a young man that has certainly put some numbers on the board, enough that when we were talking about where our future is, he's one of the guys they want to look at at this level."
TWO IN, TWO OUT
During practice, Linglet skated with Dustin Penner and Ryan Potulny, while Jones skated with Gilbert Brule and Marc Pouliot. To make room for the new additions, forwards Patrick O'Sullivan and Ethan Moreau donned red jerseys and played defence in the drills.
Quinn emphasized that the changes won't necessarily be implemented in Friday's line-up and that "the decision is not made" on who will sit.
"Probably two guys will come in -- Linglet and young Jonesy -- but as far as who's out, I just figured Pat plays a little bit of power play on the back end so to get to read some rush opportunities, and Ethan I thought could skate backwards but I don't know if he can," the coach said with a smirk.
When asked about how the decision is made to scratch one player over another, Quinn explained that there's no cookie-cutter solution.
"It's not always going to be based on merit here, from the standpoint of going forward for the next six games," he said. "It'll be partly management's idea of what our future is and continuing to develop some young guys who may not merit being in the line-up on a given game.
"We're trying to do something that has a sense of fairness to it at the same time. We're not writing anybody off. Our job is to evaluate our senior guys as well as develop our young guys."
Despite watching the offensive action from the blue line today, Moreau expects to play his usual role tomorrow night.
"It's just a practice and I was just playing D," the captain said. "We'll see what happens tomorrow, but our line's been playing well, I've been playing well so I don't expect that to happen."
VISION GOOD, VISOR BAD
Speaking of scratches, one player who has experienced some painful ones is Dustin Penner. Penner was hit in the eye by the puck last game and temporarily lost vision in his right eye due to a scratched cornea.
Despite sporting a row of stitches on his cheekbone and some bruising around the eye, Penner should be good to play vs. Dallas.
"I'm feeling fine," he said after practice. "It's a little scary when it first happened. That's why I went down, because I couldn't see and slowly my vision came back."
Penner wore a visor during practice but he emphasized that he'll have it removed as soon as it's safe.
"With the visor, there's different things you have to learn not to do, like hunch over and tilt your head down because then the sweat just pours on top of your visor and it fogs up," he explained. "I wore one once probably in 2001 for three days at a discovery camp in Saskatoon, so that was the last time and the only time.
"I don't like it. It's something that I guess you could get used to, and having that choice, I don't want to get used to it."
Author: Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com, with files from Bob Stauffer
TUESDAY, MARCH 30, 2010OILERS at RED WINGS:
AT THE MORNING SKATE
The Oilers started their gameday with a team meeting and skate at Joe Louis Arena Tuesday morning. Although the skate was technically listed as optional, the majority of players took to the ice.
After Devan Dubnyk got the start Sunday in St. Louis, Jeff Deslauriers was the first goalie off the ice and is expected to start tonight in Detroit.
BUILDING ON THE POSITIVES
The Oilers have won all three contests vs. the Red Wings this season, but the club isn't expecting to coast into a series sweep.
"They can embarrass you," head coach Pat Quinn said about the Wings. "If you don't want to work with them, if you want to watch them play, they'll play and they'll play good."
"They do have some guys that are smart hockey players, both with the puck and without, so you've got to be smart," forward Mike Comrie added. "Sometimes you just have to put pucks to the net and get traffic there. It doesn't matter what line it is -- sometimes it's got to be ugly."
As their record proves, the Oilers have struggled this season but have found a way to do the right things vs. the Red Wings.
"Sometimes when you're a coach, you don't know why your team does it one night and maybe not the next night, but each of the games we were able to put the puck in early, position well, get some turnovers off a really good puck-moving team, and we were able to attack," Quinn explained.
"We seem to create offensive rush chances against this team, and it has been out of our defensive alignment and our attention to detail."
MIKE MOVES UP
Quinn and his coaching staff hope to see more of those offensive opportunities tonight, especially from the new line combination of Dustin Penner, Andrew Cogliano, and Mike Comrie. Comrie debuted on the line during Monday's practice and is looking forward to the opportunity to make a difference in Detroit.
"Everybody always wants to play an offensive role if that's what you can do, but you've got to be realistic and we understand the situation we're in," he said. "Now that I'm playing with these guys, I think I've got to get open and try to make some plays against the Red Wings. They're a puck-possession team, so you're going to have to be smart about the type of plays you make."
Assistant coach Wayne Fleming is looking for chemistry from the trio.
"Cogs has got some great speed and Pens can finish it and Mike can make the plays, so hopefully we can get some type of chemistry out of that group," he said. "I think it's good too to change those lines up and now and then because it forces more communication, they've got to interact more whether it's on the ice or on the bench and between periods as well."
RED WINGS 5 - OILERS 4
The Detroit Red Wings raced out to a 4-0 lead on Tuesday night at Joe Louis Arena but the Oilers battled back to tie the game at 4-4 in the third period. Brad Stuart scored with 1:08 left to seal the victory for the home side, however.
Author: Jen Sharpe & Marc Ciampa | edmontonoilers.com, with files from Bob Stauffer
MONDAY, MARCH 29, 2010HELLO JOE
Injured forward Ryan Jones continues to skate with the team and edge his way back into the line-up. Jones skated with Ryan Potulny and Gilbert Brule, while Patrick O'Sullivan swapped with Zack Stortini alongside Robert Nilsson and Marc Pouliot.
Edmonton's other two forward lines consisted of Ethan Moreau, Shawn Horcoff, and Fernando Pisani, as well as Dustin Penner, Andrew Cogliano, and Mike Comrie.
Cogliano said he is looking forward to playing with his new linemates.
"I play pretty good with Pens, which is a good thing. I think they're just trying to shake things up here and there."
GOING FOR THE SWEEP
With three wins over the mighty Wings already this season, the Oilers are looking to make it a perfect four with a victory Tuesday night.
For a team that's had only 24 wins all season, Edmonton credits its success vs. Detroit to preparation and hard work.
"Detroit's a team that will take it to you if you're not ready and not ready to play," Cogliano explained. "We always come very focused and prepared, and when we play well we have a chance to win every game."
Pisani was more specific in his assessment.
"They have a lot of skilled players out there, and if you limit their time and space out there, they're not going to be able to create as many opportunities that they're used to," he said. "I think we did a really good job of keeping a close gap and not giving them too much room."
Head Coach Pat Quinn added that confidence will play a big role in tomorrow's match-up.
"A lot of times, it's tougher to be a good team and stay good than it is to be a rising team," he explained. "I think our team skates against them well, and some teams you get a little confidence against. But that's still a good hockey team, and they'd be someone that probably in that first round that you don't want to bump into."
PLAYING FOR PRIDE
The playoffs are an impossibility for the Oilers this season, potentially challenging the team's ability to stay focused as an early summer approaches. But the Oilers are determined to finish on a positive note, both individually and as a team.
"Next year we don't know what's going to happen with guys playing on the team and personnel-wise," Cogliano said. "You want to do as much as possible to show that you're committed and you're still working until the end of the season. It's a tough situation but you have to put it behind you and work."
That drive to persevere is what the coaches are demanding from the players in the final seven games, even though the big prize -- a Stanley Cup -- is out of reach.
"At the end of the day, you do work for your playoff spots and the opportunity to win a Stanley Cup, but the only way you do that is pay attention to your process that we set at the start of the year," Quinn explained. "This is a process, and the process means that you pay attention to how you develop yourself, how you develop your teammates, and that you come to work every day. That is what you owe everybody else in that room.
"We have to stay on top of that and have our players accept that that's what they're playing for now."
Author: Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com, with files from Bob Stauffer