THE TEAM TODAY

THE TEAM TODAY: S.A.I.T. Skate

Oilers hit the ice at Southern Alberta Institute of Technology before flying to Columbus Wednesday afternoon

Wednesday, 27.10.2010 / 2:12 PM / The Team Today
By Jen Sharpe  - edmontonoilers.com
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 27

S.A.I.T. SKATE

The Oilers wasted no time returning to the ice after Tuesday's shootout loss to the Flames. The club held an early practice Wednesday morning at Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) before flying to Columbus in the afternoon.

Although Edmonton has now lost five straight, the club is feeling relatively optimistic. After finding themselves in a 4-1 hole late in the second period vs. Calgary, the Oilers rallied to a 4-4 tie and eventually forced a shootout.

"It shows a lot of heart coming back like that in the third against a good team in a tough building," defenceman Jason Strudwick said Wednesday. "I think we understand we want to start like that if we can and really put pressure on them. When we're aggressive and we're on our toes, we're a difficult team to play against because of our speed."

Captain Shawn Horcoff agreed the late-game effort was good but added the end result is what counts.

"We need to win a game here and we need to win one soon, but at the same time it was nice to get a point there," he said.

HALL MONITOR

Edmonton's struggle to win wasn't the only hot topic with the media Wednesday: Taylor Hall's struggle to score is gaining more attention as the games go by.

The first-overall pick has one point through seven games this season. Although Hall is feeling the pressure, he is trying to keep focus on improving his overall play and helping the team get some wins.

"
I'm trying the best I can, but at the same time, it's more about the team than my goal slump. I thought we played well in the third period last night. If we keep that going, everyone's going to have individual success," he said.

"I'm getting a little bit antsy but at the same time, it's a process -- my NHL career is pretty young right now and there's only been seven games," he added. "Everybody goes through tough times, but it's how you come out of it. It's what you do to get yourself out of that slump and make yourself a better player that makes you a little bit stronger in the end."

When asked if the scoring success of fellow rookies Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi is motivating him, Hall said yes.

"Everyone's fighting for ice time, everyone's fighting to do the same job and help the team, and I'm happy for those two guys because they're good friends on mine and I want to see them do well. But at the same time, I want to well myself and try to contribute."

Horcoff said Hall needs to be patient and the scoring will come.

"He's obviously been a player that at every level has been able to score, but he's 18-years-old playing in the NHL and it's going to take him a little bit of time, so he just needs to show a little more patience," the captain explained.

"In order for anyone to be successful in the NHL, you have to have confidence in yourself and your ability, and you have to have a drive to want to be a great player," Horcoff continued. "He definitely has that. He's the type of guy that you can tell every night and every game that he wants to produce and he wants to contribute and that's the attitude you'll need to have."

ONE-ON-ONE

In the latest edition of our fan question series, Lebron of Bashaw, AB submitted a question for Shawn Horcoff.

LEBRON: "What kind of responsibilities do you have to Hall, Eberle and Paajarvi in particular as the new captain of the team?"

Shawn Horcoff

SHAWN: "You try to just help them become better pros, really, and help them get used to the pro game. There's so much that goes into trying to become a consistent player at this level; you know, off-ice habits, nutrition, off-ice workouts and things like that. You try to help those guys along and teach them a little bit. But it takes time, they have to go through it themselves in order for them to be successful every night.

It's not that hard. They're good kids and they all obviously have a high level of skill and talent, but they have great drive. They want to be successful. And anytime you have a player with that kind of attitude, it always make it easier to motivate."

Fill out the form on the right to submit a question for one of the Oilers. We will ask one of the submitted questions after the next practice and will post the answer in the next Team Today.



Author: Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com, with files from Marc Ciampa, Tom Gazzola & Bob Stauffer

 
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 26

OILERS at FLAMES:
AT THE MORNING SKATE

The Oilers started game day with a morning skate at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, looking to end their four-game losing skid as they open a three-game trip.

"As a group in here we know that we need to be that way. The way the last game went, we're not happy with the intensity - especially in the third period. We want to get back to the way we know we can play," said Sam Gagner.

Gagner's line with Hemsky and Penner could potentially be matched up against the red-hot Rene Bourque line in Calgary. Bourque has five goals in his last two games and six in his last four for the Flames and has traditionally been a thorn in the side of Edmonton.

"I think there's another level we want to get to," Gagner said of his line. "If you're going to play against a team's top defenders on the other side you've got to be a line that's counted on to handle the load offensively."

Steve MacIntyre will be a likely insertion into the lineup as well as Theo Peckham. Both welcome additions, Renney noted, as the team aims to get bigger and more physical.

"I anticipate that. We need that in our lineup in any event," Renney remarked. "Regardless of who's in the lineup, we've got to push back."

REUNITED

In search of a shake-up, it's anticipated that head coach Tom Renney will put Tom Gilbert and Ryan Whitney together as the top pairing tonight.

"We're contemplating that move. We're thinking about putting those two together again. We'll see how it goes," said Renney.

Gilbert had 12 points in his first 66 games last year, but after Whitney came on board he picked up 19 points in 16 games as the two looked like an elite pairing at times.

"He's a great puck mover. He gets the puck up the ice as quick as he can and allows me to jump up the play as much as possible. We had great chemistry last year and our pairing worked out well."

Whitney agreed.

"It's just one of those things. We gelled pretty well when I came over. He moves the puck really well, he's pretty easy to play with," he said. "We do a lot of talking out there, it's pretty vocal when we're out on the ice."

Whitney is also leading the Oilers in ice time this season. Coach Renney pointed out that the group has to help contribute more when he's out there or Whitney could be run ragged out there on the ice.

"Collectively, in order to help him pack on 26 minutes the other skaters need to make it as easy on him as possible."

STAIOS IN FOR FLAMES

One adjustment the Flames are making is subbing out newcomer Brendan Mikkelsson in favour of former Oilers blueliner Steve Staios.

"I didn't think Brendan had all that great of a game that second game. There were some turnovers that we don't want to have in our own zone," said Flames head coach Brent Sutter. "I felt maybe a few more practices and getting a chance to watch a little bit would help him out in those areas."

Enter Steve Staios.

"Stevie's going to get an opportunity to come back in and we need Stevie playing well when he comes in."

Staios has had some trouble adjusting to being in that 6th/7th defenceman role but has been a consummate professional in his situation.

"It's been a difficult start to the season. We have a lot of good defencemen here and I've been in and out of the lineup," Staios remarked. "You've got to keep the right attitude and keep plugging away."


FLAMES 5 - OILERS 4 (SO)

The Edmonton Oilers rallied from a three-goal deficit to force overtime and a shootout on Tuesday night in Calgary against the Flames but it was the home team that ultimately prevailed with a 5-4 win in the shootout.

Author: Marc Ciampa | edmontonoilers.com, with files from Tom Gazzola

MONDAY, OCTOBER 25

ROAD READY

The Oilers held an hour-long practice Monday morning before hopping on a flight to Calgary in the afternoon.

The club is eager to stop its current four-game skid and earn its first road win of the season with a victory Tuesday night vs. the Flames.

"We don't want to get used to what's happening right now," Head Coach Tom Renney said to the media after the skate. "It's one thing to get beaten, it's another thing to lose, and what we don't want to do is get beaten. We certainly don't want to beat ourselves and we don't want to get kind of pushed around and tossed around in a game where we just can't compete.

"The bottom line is, if what you're going to do is put your best foot out there and give it your best shot, then if you lose, you lose. But if you don't compete, then it's a different ballgame."

According to defenceman Tom Gilbert, the team had trouble sticking to the game plan Saturday night vs. San Jose, resulting in a 6-1 loss.

"We want to do things that give us the best chance to win and we kind of went out of our element a little bit," he said. "It's not going to win any games in this league, so we've got to find some kind of consistency."

GUESS THE GOALIE

So far this season, one of the only places the Oilers have found consistency is in net. But that could change on this three-game road trip.

When asked about whether back-up goalies Devan Dubnyk or Jeff Deslauriers will see action on the trip, Renney answered, "I think I've made up my mind."

When asked if both young goalies would play, Renney said only "They could."

ONE-ON-ONE

In the latest edition of our fan question series, Tony of Edmonton submitted a question for Devan Dubnyk.

TONY: "After not having a start so far this season, how do you prepare physically and mentally until you're called upon to start or play in any situation it may be?"

Devan Dubnyk

DEVAN: "I just try to prepare the same way. I think the key to being consistent, whether you're a starter or a back-up, is to practice the same way every day and prepare the same way every day. You can't look too far in advance and over-prepare for a game if you know it's a week away. You just have to come to the rink the same way every day, whether you're playing every day or you're playing once every two weeks. It's not the easiest thing to do, but it's what you have to try to do.

As for whether it's harder physically or mentally, it's a little bit of both. Being in a game is a lot different than practice, so it takes a while for your body to get used to moving around in the net. Mentally also, it takes you a little bit to get back in. But if you're just confident in your ability and you don't over-think it too much, it doesn't take too long when you get back in there."

Fill out the form on the right to submit a question for one of the Oilers. We will ask one of the submitted questions after the next practice and will post the answer in the next Team Today.


Author: Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com, with files from Jack Michaels


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