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.
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.
Oilers receive instruction at practice.
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
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.
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