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THE TEAM TODAY

THE TEAM TODAY: And then there were two

Oilers place goalie Jeff Deslauriers on waivers Monday morning

Monday, 01.11.2010 / 4:13 PM / The Team Today
By Jen Sharpe  - edmontonoilers.com
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THE TEAM TODAY: And then there were two
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 1

AND THEN THERE WERE TWO

The Oilers took to the ice for practice at 10am Monday morning with three notable absentees: Ryan Whitney, Steve MacIntyre, and Jeff Deslauriers.

Oilers staff later confirmed that Deslauriers was placed on waivers, meaning Devan Dubnyk has secured the spot as back-up goaltender to Nikolai Khabibulin.

Management's decision to trim the goaltenders was inevitable, but  as the odd man out, Deslauriers was understandably disappointed by the news.

"I felt part of the family here and been in that organization since '02 and I never wanted to go play somewhere else, but that's what it is right now and we'll see what happens next for me," he said. "It's going to be a new start and a new challenge for sure."

Other NHL teams have until 10am MT Tuesday to claim Deslauriers off waivers. If he clears, he will likely be assigned to the Oilers AHL affiliate in Oklahoma City.

Although Deslauriers' is currently in NHL limbo, the soft-spoken netminder is no stranger to uncertainty and is ready to start the next phase of his career.

"I've been put in different situations since my debut in the NHL: went through three goalies my first year; second year I was expecting to play 20 games, it turned out to be 48; and this year the three-goalie situation again," he explained. "I think you just grow up mentally, and it's not a matter of how you take the situation, it's a matter of how you're going to rebound from it."

"It makes me a better person and a better NHL goalie," Deslauriers added. "It's through adversity that you learn to improve yourself."

As teammates, roommates and challengers for the back-up position, Deslauriers and Dubnyk had a close and unique relationship. Upon hearing word about Deslauriers on waivers, Dubnyk said there was "a little bit of shock."

"Obviously coming to the rink, you know something's going to happen at some point but you never really know when," he said. "I haven't got a chance to talk to Jeff yet but I'm certainly going to try to do that because he's a friend of mine and I'm sure it's not a situation that anybody wants to go through."

When asked if there was tension between the two goalies leading up to the decision, Dubnyk said no.

"We're grownups. We know the reality that one of us is going somewhere at some point, so there's no point in making it weird or having awkward competition or whatnot. We've grown together here since I first got drafted in 2004 and we've been through a lot, so there's certainly nothing that way."

ON THE FRONT END

Andrew Cogliano

With the Oilers goaltending situation clear for now, the other hot topic in the Oilers locker room continues to be Friday night's offensive outburst in Chicago. Andrew Cogliano was an important contributor, scoring his first goal of the season -- the eventual game-winner -- early in the second period.

Following Monday's practice, Cogliano said he feels like "it's all coming together."

"I wasn't pressing last game, I just let things come naturally. I'm getting some good support with guys like Pens (Dustin Penner) and Bru (Gilbert Brule), who I enjoy playing with. I feel like my face-offs are a step in the right process," he explained. "I had a good game last game and I'm going to build on that."

Cogliano added that with young guns Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Magnus Paajarvi putting up points, as well vets like Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff, there is less external pressure on a small group of players and more individual drive to succeed.

"A lot of guys have the onus on themselves to score. There's a lot of offensive talent in here, so those guys are taking it on themselves, and I think that it takes the pressure off certain guys," he said. "You can see when we all have a collective good game and guys are all pulling the weight offensively, we end up winning."

WHAT'S NEXT

Game Day returns to Rexall Place Tuesday as the Oilers host the Canucks at 7pm MT. Singles and standing room tickets are still available.

  Click here to purchase tickets for Tuesday night

ONE-ON-ONE

Gilbert Brule's Movember 2009 efforts.

In the latest edition of our fan question series, Jason Toshach of Edmonton submitted a question for Gilbert Brule.

JASON: "Are you and any other teammates participating in "Movember" this year?"

GILBERT: "Yes, I will be participating and so are a bunch of other guys on the team. Day one is looking good for far for me and there's 30 days left so we'll see how it goes from there."

Watch edmontonoilers.com for more news about Oilers Movember in the next few days!

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 & Tom Gazzola

 
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 31

HOME AGAIN

After coming away with four out of a possible six points on their recent road swing, Edmonton returned home to Rexall Place today and held an hour-long practice that pushed the pace and put the players back to work in a hurry.

With an extra day in between games before the Vancouver Canucks come to town on Tuesday night, the Oilers spent the bulk of today's session working on end-to-end skating drills, which included a heavy emphasis on heart-pumping one-on-one
exercises.

While line rushes and in-zone offensive plays weren't the focus on this day, they were touched on briefly midway through the practice when the forwards attacked on a series of odd-man chances up the ice.

The lines were the same as they have been over the past few games, although with Ales Hemsky notably absent from today's practice, spot placement was necessary to complete each line.

Although Hemsky did not participate in today's session, he's not injured and was in attendance at the rink as he conducted a "maintendance day."

The rotation on the fourth line continued, with all of Steve MacIntyre, Zack Stortini and Ryan Jones splitting duty on the unit to accompany centerman Colin Fraser.

The story was the same on the blueline as well, with Jason Strudwick and Jim Vandermeer parsing duty on the third pairing with Theo Peckham.

CHARACTER BUILDING

While the Oilers only came away with one victory on the road trip, -- against the Stanley Cup champions, however -- the Oilers skated away without a single regulation loss. Losing their first two games in a shootout following some impressive third period come-from-behind efforts has helped the team bond and build some confidence moving forward.

"We did a lot of things that were better on the ice, especially as a team. Obviously it's nice scoring seven goals against a team like Chicago. But, I think a lot of it showed a lot of our character when we came back in the first two games; never gave up, our first periods were great, and that's what we're looking for," remarked defenceman Tom Gilbert.

"We did a lot of good things. We moved the puck well and when we do that, success is definitely something that might come."

Centerman Colin Fraser agreed with Gilbert, but cautions that there's still plenty of work to be done.

"We're making steps in the right direction, obviously. With the last game in Chicago, I think we had a really good start; still need things to work on. I don't think we can be satisfied with the win -- we still gave up four goals and whatnot. They still had some chances, but I think it was a step in the right direction for us."

PK IMPROVEMENTS

Tom Renney
Perhaps one of the greatest reasons for the team's recent success has been the stark improvement on the penalty kill.

The Oilers have been shuffling different combinations around to try and find a formula that works, and it would appear that the inclusion of some offensive firepower is providing a lift.

"We would like to be able to make sure everyone makes a contribution on our team, and you'd like to see your third and fourth line guys really contribute to the penalty kill. We believe that we can get there. At the same time, I don't have a problem that with that little bit of an offensive threat on the PK, where that other team might not just give you everything that they have because of the artillery you might have as a killer," said head coach Tom Renney

"That said, the job is to kill penalties."

COACH COMPLIMENTS

While the players and coaches all admit that there's still some improvement to be made, Renney was fervent to compliment his team's improvements and overall strengths over the past few games.

"I like the fact that we really competed for three periods. I liked our attack game, I thought our transition game was good, I thought we moved the puck through the neutral zone with quickness, I thought we got it to the net with purpose. For the most part, we didn't lose people in the offensive zone or on our forecheck."

NUMBER ONE'S FIRST

Taylor Hall's first career NHL goal
Fresh off a road trip in which Taylor Hall scored his first and second career goals in consecutive nights, the 18-year old was thrilled but wanted to keep an even keel as he hopes to continue his recent offensive production into Tuesday night.

"It's definitely nice to get that first one out of the play, and once I kind of did that I was a little more relaxed out there.

Playing with Horc (Shawn Horcoff) and Ebs (Jordan Eberle), it's not hard to get points if you do the right things. It was a pretty good weekend for myself."

While his on-ice performance certainly got a rise out of his teammates when he scored in Columbus, Hall says the outpouring of support from family and friends has been tremendous.

"It was good. Everyone was pretty happy to see me get that goal, obviously; a lot of text messages and all that kind of stuff, so it's good to have people support you. I have some family coming here soon, so that should be nice."

WHAT'S NEXT

The Oilers will be back on the ice tomorrow for practice as they prepare to host the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night. Singles and standing room tickets are still available.

  Click here to purchase tickets for Tuesday night


ONE-ON-ONE

In the latest edition of our fan question series, Kenton of Winnipeg, MB submitted this question for Taylor Hall:

KENTON: "
This being your first season in the NHL, how is the OHL compared to the NHL? How much harder is it?"

Taylor Hall
TAYLOR: "Probably the biggest thing is the goalies. They're just so good in this league, and you really have to pinpoint your shots to put them in. They challenge so well, too, so that's probably the biggest thing that I've noticed.

The strength is obviously a factor, but it hasn't been as big of a factor as I thought it would be because there's so much speed. The faster players really have an advantage because they call every penalty and if you're fast you can get away from guys; you don't really have to use the strength, so speed is definitely an advantage.

Other than that, I'm having a blast. Staying in the hotels, in the airplanes, and just being around this team. It's been a lot of fun."



Author: Ryan Dittrick | edmontonoilers.com, with files from Tom Gazzola

 
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 28

OILERS at BLACKHAWKS:
AT THE MORNING SKATE

The Edmonton Oilers wrap up a three-game road trip tonight in Chicago. It's the first time this season that the team has played back-to-back games. A win tonight would give the team a very respectable 1-0-2 record (4 points) on the road swing.

"It's good to be playing," said head coach Tom Renney. "Back-to-back games is not a bad thing. We've got an opportunity to see, number one what we're all about and number two what we're all about against a good team."

Renney felt confident about what type of performance he might get from his team tonight.

"I think we're going to be all right. I think we're going to play hard tonight, I think we're going to give Chicago something to think about. The big thing for me is to play 200x85 responsibly, with some passion and we'll see what we're made of."

Nikolai Khabibulin will get the start in goal tonight for the Oilers after Devan Dubnyk put in a strong performance in Columbus last night.

"It was cool to watch a game from upstairs just to see what the guys are doing," Khabibulin remarked.

Squaring off against his former team, the Stanley Cup Champions on back-to-back nights, Khabibulin was aware of the difficulty of the situation.

"It's going to be a big challenge for us," he continued. "We have to have our A game to beat them."

Head Coach Tom Renney wasn't tipping his hand when it came to who would dress tonight between Zack Stortini and Steve MacIntyre.

"I'm going to make a game-time decision in a couple of instances," he said, noting that Kurtis Foster did skate today and he will make a call on his playing status as well.

THE RETURN OF FRASER

Oilers forward Colin Fraser makes his return to the city where he collected a Stanley Cup ring last season. Fraser stated that he was looking forward to tonight's match-up but that it'll be a little strange to be on the opposite side of the ice.

"I've never really been in this situation before, being traded and playing against friends. It'll be different but I'm really looking forward to it. It should be fun," Fraser remarked.

Blackhawks forward Fernando Pisani will also be facing his former team for the first time.

"From a distance, watching him play I always had a huge respect for his ability to play a complete game," said Renney.

THE DAY AFTER

Taylor Hall wasn't getting too high or too low the day after he scored his first career NHL goal.

"It's nice to get that first one out of the way but I can't not have a good game tonight because then it's not going to mean anything. I have to be consistent every night."

The marker was a timely one as it knotted the game up at 2-2 and earned the Oilers a point in the come-from-behind win. Tonight Hall has another motivation, playing against the Blackhawks' young superstars.

"It's obviously very exciting. It's different than playing the other superstars in the league because these guys are so young and so close to our age," said Hall. "At the same time, this would be a huge win for us."

OILERS 7 - BLACKHAWKS 4


The Edmonton Oilers took a three-goal outburst in a minute and nine seconds in the opening period and carried that to a 7-4 win over the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on Friday night. Seven Oilers had two points on the night including a pair of goals from Sam Gagner. Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 37 of 41 shots for the win.


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

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