THE TEAM TODAY

THE TEAM TODAY: Raleigh Round-up

Oilers reflect on win over Blackhawks before off-ice workout in Carolina

Monday, 08.11.2010 / 12:48 PM / The Team Today
By Jen Sharpe  - edmontonoilers.com
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 8

RALEIGH ROUND-UP

After arriving in Raleigh late Sunday night, the Oilers got a good night's rest before hitting the gym for a group off-ice workout Monday morning.

Before hitting the weight room, players and coaches addressed the media to discuss the day's topics, specifically Sunday's come-from-behind win over the Blackhawks.

"It was definitely a good feeling, especially coming in a building like Chicago and playing Stanley Cup champions and we get two points," goalie Nikolai Khabibulin said. "We were close a couple of games before that but lost a couple of one-goal games against very good teams as well. I guess finally we got a little bit of that reward."

Khabibulin was one of the big reasons the Oilers came out with a win. A handful of exceptional saves, including back-to-back stops on Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, secured a spot on the NHL highlight reel and two points for Edmonton in the standings.

"That game could have gone the other way, we all know that, but at the end of the day, the best teams in the league have great goaltending too and the best teams in the league have goaltending at critical times," Head Coach Tom Renney said. "Khabi is all about that and completely capable of that any time, and so he was big for us when we needed him and that's good. It's good for our confidence."

Khabibulin downplayed the flashy saves.

"If that happens usually that's because I didn't do something right before that," he explained modestly. "I don't like to be out of position too much, but during the game you don't really think about it and you just try to stop the puck, whatever it takes. I think it was a couple lucky saves, but whatever works."

THE KILLERS

Another reasons for Edmonton's success was perfect penalty killing. The Oilers smothered three Blackhawks power-plays Sunday night, a "really important" accomplishment, according to Renney.

"I thought [penalty killing] provided as much momentum for our team moving forward to that game as anything," the coach explained. "And of course Khabi was outstanding as a part of that kill and even beyond when we really needed him.

"We had lots of things kind of go our way last night, but I really believe we earned those things and I thought the PK was a springboard to most of it."

SEASON-LONG PROCESS

Head Coach Tom Renney

Recent wins over Chicago and strong showings vs. Vancouver and Detroit have the Oilers feeling optimistic these days, but Renney continues to insist that it's a season-long process and there's still plenty to improve upon.

"It's such a cliche to talk about the process of a season, and in our case the building of our team and the growth of the people on it, and yet those cliches work. The big thing for us is to look at the season in increments, recognize that it will be a body of work that will definite us at the end of the hockey season," the coach explained.

"We want a playoff spot as badly as anybody playing this game and we're going to hunt it down. In the meantime we've got to really make sure we pay attention to the little details that will help us with those big wins like last night."

UP NEXT

The Oilers return to action Tuesday, November 9 vs. the Hurricanes here in Raleigh. The puck drops at 5:00pm MT and you can catch all the action on Rogers Sportsnet Oilers.

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

 
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 7

OILERS at BLACKHAWKS:
PRE-GAME

The Oilers arrived in Chicago late Saturday afternoon and, due to the early Sunday start, opted for a team meeting at the hotel instead of a morning skate at United Center. Following the meeting and the pre-game meal, Head Coach Tom Renney and the players addressed the media.

The last time the Oilers were in Chicago, the team pulled off an impressive 7-4 victory over the Blackhawks. Players and coaches are hoping for a similar result tonight, but they know it won't be easy to steal another two points from the reigning Stanley Cup champions.

"Certainly with Chicago we have a good residual feeling of what happened here, but we also know that we've got a team that's going to be out for revenge," Renney said. "They know what the formula is to win, there's no question about that, and we're still trying to discover it, but we're just maybe naive enough where we don't care who we're playing either.

"We've got to take advantage of that. Just go -- go play and push the envelope and put teams like this, who are maybe looking for a little more traction than they've had so far anyway, into some duress."

With a five-game road trip ahead for Edmonton, a win tonight could set a positive tone for a difficult stretch.

"We've got to get over that hump and get on the winning side of things and start the trip out right," Colin Fraser said. "It is a tough, long trip and to get out on the right foot would be obviously where we want to be."

Taylor Hall agrees but doesn't want to get ahead of the immediate challenge -- Chicago.

"I think if we can get some momentum that will definitely help us but we've got to take it one game at a time," the rookie said. "We can't be looking at the other games -- we've just got to focus on the process. We know that we're really close right now. If we can get over that hump and start getting some points and get on a win streak or something like that, that would be great."

Renney is looking forward to the road trip.

"This will be great," he said. "I think it's going to be a real acid test for our team in a number of ways -- how we prepare ourselves to play individually, how we do that obviously as a team, the opponents obviously will bring out I hope the best in us and probably expose us here and there too because of the nature of the trip and all that goes along with it. So it's a real important time for us, I'm really looking forward to getting on with it."


OILERS 2 - BLACKHAWKS 1

Former Oiler Fernando Pisani landed the first blow Sunday night in Chicago, but former Blackhawk Nikolai Khabibulin got the last laugh after backstopping the Oil to a 2-1 victory. With third-period goals 14-seconds apart, Kurtis Foster and Sam Gagner led the offensive charge for Edmonton, ensuring a positive start to the club's five-game road trip.

Author: Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com, with files from Bob Stauffer

 
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 6

JET-SET & GO

A winless homestand preceding the longest road trip of the young 2010-2011 campaign would seemingly gesture a daunting task ahead for the Oilers.

After all, following the two latest home losses, the team now sits with a 3-6-2 record in the NHL's Western Conference.

But there was no time to be reflecting on the past. It was time to look forward and begin a new test.

Only 12 hours after falling victim to the Detroit Red Wings, the Oilers took to the ice at the Leduc Recreation Centre for a brief session before jetting cross-border to the Windy City.   

With only one win in the team’s last nine games, it would be all too easy for the team to roll over and accept its early-season fate. But the Oilers understand the situation and realize that a young team will naturally undergo some growing pains in the process.

For a team heading into an important stretch of games, moving forward is the best thing they can do.

"You have to move past that stuff," stressed Oilers rookie Jordan Eberle. “You got to try and find the things you did wrong and improve on them, and find the things you did right. Like I said, you can't look in the past; we have to look forward."

Defenceman Jim Vandermeer agreed with Eberle’s assessment, stating that the team needs to “take it day-by-day, one game at a time” as the Oilers look to get back on track.

"I don't think you can dwell on the losses too long. I think you take the good things out of your game and try to apply them to the next game. That's definitely what we'll try to do tomorrow," said an eager Vandermeer.

KEEP THE PACE

This morning’s succinct 30-minute practice had a different approach; a pseudo morning skate, where drills focused primarily on conditioning, quick transitions and odd-man rushes to keep the pace high. Legs were burning and minds were refocused as the team hopes to have better success on the road, beginning tomorrow against the Blackhawks.

Oilers receive instruction at practice.
Odd man rushes of all situations highlighted the session, with head coach Tom Renney and his staff encouraging the players to utilize the entire ice surface in the process.

Quick puck movement and quality shot selection were the key points of attack, where the Oilers lacked last night against a veteran Red Wings squad known for their dominating puck possession game.

Line combinations were only briefly run as units, but both the forward and defensive groupings remained the same as they were last night against Detroit. Young defenceman Theo Peckham, who has done an incredible job this season of imposing his physical will, was absent from practice as he was still suffering some effects from a flu bug that kept him out of the lineup last night. 

THE FIVE GAME, EIGHT DAY MARATHON

The Oilers are one of the league’s youngest teams and feature a lineup with several young rookies getting an opportunity to learn on the fly. The forthcoming five-game road trip is going to be a new experience for many, but Eberle says the trip length “isn’t that big of deal” considering his experience in the Western Hockey League with Regina.

“I'm used to bigger trips, but obviously the pace of the game, it really takes a toll on your body and you have to make sure you're taking care of yourself,” said Eberle.

"It's going to be a good test for us. We're playing some good hockey teams and we need to obviously try and play our game. We've had one game of success in Chicago, and I think that's obviously going to help us. We need to go in with the expectation of doing well and coming together."

SPEAKING OF CHICAGO

Jim Vandermeer
The Oilers are undoubtedly in tough on this upcoming trip; a five-game roadie that features some quality teams on the opposing side. But perhaps some recent success in Chicago will give the team some confidence to kick things off.

Both Eberle and Vandermeer share the quietly confident sentiments, but caution that the team can’t look too far ahead.

“We had a good outing last time in Chicago, so we want to make sure that we go in with a good effort and try to get two points there,” said Vandermeer, as he eagerly anticipates the rematch tomorrow night.

"It's huge. We’re going to need to get some wins here pretty quick. We know the importance of these next five games and we'll treat it that way."

Eberle, while pleased with the outcome of the last game at the United Center in Chicago, says redemption will be the priority of the Blackhawks come Sunday night.

“Anytime you get beat by a team, you want to make redemption. For us, we're going to go in with the same game plan and try to come out on top.”

AND SO IT BEGINS

Immediately following practice in Leduc, the Oilers hopped on their charter flight to Chicago as they prepare for the challenge of the marathon trip. It all begins tomorrow night when the Oilers and Blackhawks meet for the second time in eight days, as the home side hopes to avenge the 7-4 drubbing laid by Edmonton in the previous meeting.  

ONE-ON-ONE

Jordan Eberle

In the latest edition of our fan question series, Serena of Port Alberni, BC submitted a question for Jordan Eberle.

SERENA: "Is there a song that plays in an arena that drives you nuts? (eg. the Canucks in Chicago with Chelsea Dagger)"

JORDAN: "We had a song in Regina, actually. Say we were down by one and the other team scored in the third period and we were down by two, and they always put on Journey - 'Don't Stop Believing' and it just drove me nuts on the bench."

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


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