THE TEAM TODAY

The Team Today: Home Cookin'

With 8 wins in 11 home games, Oilers talk about finishing strong for fans

Tuesday, 06.04.2010 / 3:39 PM / The Team Today
By Jen Sharpe  - edmontonoilers.com
TUESDAY, APRIL 6, 2010
HOME ICE ADVANTAGE

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On the heels of Monday's 4-1 victory over Minnesota, the Oilers gave their skates a rest and opted for an off-ice workout at Rexall Place Tuesday morning.

With the club's home schedule wrapping up Wednesday and the full season Sunday night, the players were honest about the disappointments of the past six months and are now striving to finish on a positive note.

Perhaps the sunniest statistic of the past few months is the Oilers recent home record. After Monday's win, the Oil have won eight of the past 11 at home and say strong showings at Rexall Place are an important "thank you" to fans.

"We realize it's been a tough year for our fans and we've sold our every game, so we talk about it in the room that we want to play well, especially the last couple months at home," captain Ethan Moreau said.

Ryan Potulny isn't sure why there is such a discrepancy between the home and road record (8 of 11 vs. 1 of 11 on the road), but he thinks the fans probably have something to do with it.

"I think maybe it's a comfort level when we're playing at home -- we have the fans behind us and maybe we come out with a little more energy," Potulny said. "They've been there for us all year through some tough times so it's important for us to come out these last couple games and play well for them."

MONDAY'S ACCOMPLISHMENTS

The final home stretch of the season started this week vs. the Wild, and the Oilers got the result they were looking for. Not only did the club post a solid 60-minute effort for two points, a handful of players registered multi-point games, including Moreau and Dustin Penner, who scored two goals each.

"There's nights where you're feeling really good and you're skating well and you just don't get the puck in the right positions to score, and last night Horc (Shawn Horcoff) made some great plays and got me the puck in scoring areas and I was able to score a couple goals," Moreau explained.

"When you're at home you get to have last change, we get to play against the top lines, and it's been effective."

For Penner, the markers helped him attain -- and surpass -- a personal goal: 30 on the year.

"It's a bit of a relief, especially when I was at 29, because you can go on 10-game scoreless droughts," he said. "It was nice to get it out of the way early, especially on the first shift.

"It's bittersweet though, with the way the team's doing. It would mean a whole lot more to me if we were in the playoffs and at least pushing for a spot. But it's been a tough year."

Ryan Potulny, who registered two assists last night, said winning the final three games is priority number one, then it's time to build on the positives, like yesterday's victory.

"We're trying to finish this season off the right way," he emphasized. "This summer we'll look back and take out some of the positives that we can out of this season, and that's one of them -- a good home record -- which if you're tough to beat at home and you can get the road game going, you're going to be a good team."

Author: Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com, with files from Bob Stauffer
MONDAY, APRIL 5, 2010
OILERS vs WILD:
AT THE MORNING SKATE


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PRE-GAME VIDEO POST-GAME VIDEO
GAME PHOTO GALLERY
A full contingent of Oilers took to the ice Monday morning for the second-last gameday skate of the season at Rexall Place.

After being scratched Saturday night in Phoenix,
Ryan Potulny returned to one of the top lines at the morning skate, centering Dustin Penner and Andrew Cogliano.

Potulny said sitting out the game was for the best.

"I think it was good for me to just sit and watch a game, to sit back and take it all in. I think at times here this last little stretch, I was over-thinking the game, trying to do too much, and that's not really my game. My game is to play simple and let my reactions kind of take over, my hockey sense."

Associate Coach Tom Renney says it's common for young players to faulter when attempting to take their game to the next level.

"I think a lot of times when you see a young player that's trying to get that NHL traction they over-think the game, they try to do too much within the execution of the game plan," Renney explained. "They're there in the first place usually because they've got good instincts and can play hockey, and I think for a guy like Ryan, he's just got to come back and let the game happen for him."

RUNNING THE LINES

In addition to the Penner-Potulny-Cogliano combo, Oilers coaches showcased the following lines this morning:

Ethan Moreau - Shawn Horcoff - Fernando Pisani
Robert Nilsson - Marc Pouliot - Patrick O'Sullivan
Ryan Jones - Mike Comrie - Zack Stortini

Call-up
Charles Linglet is expected to sit out, as is Gilbert Brule, who suffered an ankle injury Friday, April 2 at Dallas and will likely miss the rest of the season.

Devan Dubnyk will also get the start tonight vs. the Wild.

OILERS INK OMARK

Linus Omark
After the skate, the Oilers announced that they have signed Swedish forward Linus Omark to a two-year entry level NHL contract. Omark, 23, tallied 20 goals and 36 points with the KHL's Moscow Dynamo this past season. GM Steve Tambellini said he expects Omark to compete for a position with the Oilers next season and, if he doesn't make the cut, to play with the club's AHL affiliate in Oklahoma.

When asked if Omark is ready to play the North American game, Tambellini said he's optimistic.

"He's got some attributes there that are well above average. Whether he can bring that package and make this team, I don't know. We'll have to see, and we'll have to see what this roster looks like when we get to next September."

Head Coach Pat Quinn said that although he doesn't know very much about Omark, he's heard that he's skilled and hopes to see more of the intangibles.

"Skill is a part of the equation. If you've got it and you've got some other stuff to go with it, boy, you're lucky," Quinn explained. "I'm not a big hot-dog fan, I don't like the pretty stuff if it doesn't come up in a result. These backhand flip passes that are lofts -- and in practice you can even hear the players say 'ooh, isn't that pretty' -- well it doesn't win a lot of hockey games.

"But if he's got the kind of skill that can come in here and play an NHL game, then I like that."


OILERS SIGN CHRIS VANDE VELDE

In addition to Omark, the Oilers added another prospect to their inventory Monday. Chris Vande Velde, 22, signed on for a two-year entry level contract after completing the past season with the NCAA's University of North Dakota.

OILERS 4 - WILD 1

Dustin Penner and Ethan Moreau teamed up to give the Oilers a 2-0 lead over the Wild early in Monday night's game, and the same duo -- albeit in reverse order -- capped a 4-1 win at Rexall Place.

Shawn Horcoff, Ryan Potulny, and Tom Gilbert each posted two helpers in the game, while rookie goalie Devan Dubnyk finished with 25 saves and his third career NHL win.
Author: Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com, with files from Bob Stauffer

SATURDAY, APRIL 3, 2010
OILERS at COYOTES:
AT THE MORNING SKATE


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PRE-GAME VIDEO POST-GAME VIDEO
GAME PHOTO GALLERY
The Oilers held an optional morning skate Saturday at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, AZ, with 10 skaters plus goalie Devan Dubnyk taking to the ice. After surrendering six goals Friday night in Dallas, Dubnyk will start tonight's game on the bench with Jeff Deslauriers manning the pipes.

Up front, the Oilers will also see a few changes from last game. Head Coach Pat Quinn announced that
Patrick O'Sullivan and Robert Nilsson will both draw back into the line-up after being scratched vs. the Stars.

Gilbert Brule's ankle sprain will offset one of the returnees, but a second skater will still have to sit. Quinn said that decision will be a "game-time call."

"[O'Sullivan and Nilsson] were arbitrary I guess in the sense that we had a number of players that we could have drawn from, so we'll just bring them back in and maybe one of the other guys that's had back-to-back difficulties might not play tonight," the coach explained.

SEASON ENDS EARLY FOR BRULE

For Brule, the ankle injury is a disappointing conclusion to an otherwise impressive season. With 17 goals and 37 points in 65 games, the 23-year-old was hoping to close the year with 20 goals but will now have to settle for two crutches and an ankle brace.

"There's only five games left in a week here, so obviously I'm really disappointed," he said outside the locker room while his teammates skated. "I had some goals that I wanted to reach and it's not going to happen anymore."

The sprain was a bit of a fluke but could have been worse, he explained.

"I was just going hard to the net and (Dallas' Brian) Sutherby was coming up hard from behind. He kind of pushed me and I just got my ankle stuck in the goalie's pad and my momentum basically was pushing me over and my ankle just kind of twisted the other way.

"When I first stepped on it, I think my tendon maybe popped a little or something was moving around in there and made me concerned at first, but once we got the x-ray and found out it wasn't broken, then it was good," Brule said.

Quinn said that he has been impressed by Brule's contributions and improvements to date and shares the young forward's disappointment in having to end the season early.

"You like to see kids that are making some progress continue that," Quinn said. "He's had a respectable season, well beyond expectation I think in terms of production, and he was improving in other areas of the game that would help him be a valuable member of our team."

The head coach noted that the incident is just the latest example of the kind of injuries that have plagued the team all season.

"It's just been kind of amazing really the kinds of adverse things that have happened to this group of athletes this year, especially losing bodies like that. We haven't overcome it, that's the bottom line."

WANTED: STRONG START

Something the Oilers hope they won't have to overcome tonight is another poor start. For the past two games, the club has dug themselves a deep hole early on, and although they've battled back on both occasions, a win has remained elusive.

Shawn Horcoff is frustrated by the recent trend and says the Oil need to have a strong start tonight in Phoenix.

"It's frustrating, especially to see the way we responded coming out in the second (in Dallas)," he said. "We controlled the whole second period, scored goals to get us back in the game, and then as equally frustrating, coming out in the third and collapsing, not being able to continue what we had in the second. It was a frustrating game."


COYOTES 3 - OILERS 2 (SO)

The Oilers came back on two occasions to tie the Coyotes in Arizona Saturday night, eventually forcing extra time and a shootout. With 44 saves already in the game, Jeff Deslauriers added seven more in a goaltending showdown but couldn't stop Matthew Lombardi, who netted the game-winner in round eight to give Phoenix a 3-2 victory. Ryan Jones and Dustin Penner scored Edmonton's two goals.
Author: Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com, with files from Bob Stauffer
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