THE TEAM TODAY

THE TEAM TODAY: Road Ready

Oilers practice at home then jet to Anaheim with 18 very special guests

Saturday, 20.11.2010 / 3:45 PM / The Team Today
By Jen Sharpe  - edmontonoilers.com
X
Share with your Friends


THE TEAM TODAY: Road Ready
 
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 20

RETURN TO THE ROAD

On the heels of a 4-3 shootout loss to Phoenix, the Oilers were back on the ice Saturday morning for a quick practice before jetting south in the afternoon.

Although the team couldn't seal two points vs. the Coyotes, both players and coaches saw positive signs in the effort.

"There's no question after the difficult phase that we went through that we needed something to grab on to, feel some ground again. We were on quicksand there for a while," associate coach Ralph Krueger said after practice.

"We sadly gave up the tying goal in a five-on-six situation, which can happen -- it's a lottery at that point -- but we're pleased at least with the effort yesterday and with the system. You could see us really working as units in both directions, so we need to build on that going forward."

Goalie Devan Dubnyk said the club isn't satisfied with the one-point result.

"Obviously we'd like to come out with a win. It's nice to get a point, but we want to win games and I think we took a lot of pretty big steps forward," he said. "We were disciplined for the entire game and did a lot of good things system-wise, so I think if we play like that, we'll probably end up with two points more often than not."

SMID SKATES

Saturday marked Ladislav Smid's first practice since suffering a concussion Sunday afternoon in New York.

"It felt pretty good," he said while leaving the ice. "Obviously the first ten minutes, my legs felt a little bit heavy, but after that I felt pretty good."

Smid is unlikely to play Sunday evening in Anaheim but said he "should be ready" for Tuesday's game at Phoenix.

FAMILY FIRST

The Oilers are hoping for wins in both sun-filled destinations this road trip, not only to gain some ground in the standings but also to impress some very important family members.

18 Oilers dads will travel wtrip, and both fathers and sons are looking forward to the experience.

"I've come to Edmonton for a couple but I really haven't been a lot on the road," Kelly Gilbert, Tom Gilbert's dad, said before heading to the airport. "It's good to see what their lifestyle's like, their day-to-day type of activities. It's not my type of lifestyle because I've never been through it, so this will be kind of exciting."

Coach Krueger is looking forward to meeting the fathers over the next few days.

"The mothers and fathers are all always critical. That players are actually here at this level in sports, there's so much sacrifice that takes place," he said.

"It doesn't matter what you do -- whether you're an artist or a theatre actor or a hockey player -- if your parents aren't behind you, it's very difficult to be successful. So to have the fathers here should give the players a boost, hopefully they're going to be like a seventh guy on the ice for us and make the difference for the points."

In addition to games in Anaheim and Phoenix, a big item on the agenda is a round of golf in sunny Arizona.

"I'm kind of looking forward to that warmth. We're all coming from cold weather," Tom Jones said.

Although son Ryan is confident he will beat his dad on the golf course, he isn't as confident about his facial hair.

"He's got a sick muzzy, so all the boys look at him and they're like 'How did you turn out like this?' So I don't know what happened to me. i think it skips a generation, but it's pretty embarrassing."

Click here to support Ryan Jones & the other Oilers in their Movember efforts


Ryan Jones and father Tom Jones. Like father, like son? Apparently not in the moustache department.



Author: Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com

 
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 19

OILERS vs. COYOTES:
AT THE MORNING SKATE

After a lighthearted game of shinny Thursday morning, the Oilers were back to business Friday preparing for a tilt against the Phoenix Coyotes at Rexall Place.

Head coach Tom Renney continues to tinker with Edmonton's lines, showcasing the following threesomes at the skate:

Hall - Horcoff - Eberle
Penner - Gagner - Hemsky
Jones - Cogliano - Paajarvi
Jacques - Fraser - Stortini

With Jacques re-entering the fold this week, Renney has chosen Gilbert Brule to sit out tonight's game.

"There are parts of his game he's got to bring more often more consistently," the coach explained. "I don't think it has a lot to do with work habits, it's a matter of just playing to his strengths and bringing those on a regular basis."

Brule, who has played in every game so far this season, agrees with the coach's assessment.

"I need to play more consistent and play more like myself," he said. "I haven't been playing that well as of late and just not getting pucks to the net and that's what I need to do."

DUBNYK TO START

On the back end, a tweaked groin for Nikolai Khabibulin has propelled Devan Dubnyk into the starting position. The 24-year-old will be backed-up by veteran Martin Gerber, who was recalled from Oklahoma City Thursday afternoon.

"It's exciting," Dubnyk said. "You never want a teammate to go down injured, obviously, but that's part of the role of being a back-up is when someone goes down, then you're the guy, and I'm just going to try to have fun with it."

Renney is confident in the young goalie's abilities.

"He's looked very good in the little bit that he's played so far, so I wouldn't be surprised to see him run off with some games here and certainly play at least regularly from this point on, until we can get Khabi back.

"My hope is that we can play well enough in front of him where it's not a barrage, but at the same time he's going to have to stand tall for us, as would any of our goaltenders, as we plow through this," the coach said.

As the starter, Dubnyk was the first goalie off the ice this morning, a situation he isn't used to.

"It's certainly a little different. It's weird. It's like I feel bad leaving when I see all the guys on the ice. I feel like I should just go skate some laps or something, but I guess maybe I'll start getting used to it."

SMID INJURY UPDATE

Following the game-day interviews, injured defenceman Ladislav Smid addressed the media. Smid suffered a concussion in a sudden brawl with Sean Avery Sunday night in New York, and he recapped the event.

"Fras (Colin Fraser) got smoked by the boards and I saw it, I was the first guy around that incident, so I just came to Avery," Smid recalled. "It was 5-2 and I thought, 12 minutes left, I thought we had a chance to come back.

"So I asked him if he wants to go and made two steps back and he said 'No, let's do it next shift.' So I kind of half turned and he kind of jumped me.

"But like I said before, I should know better," he added. "I know what kind of guy he is, he has done it before, so next time it's a good lesson for next time.

"I'm not scared to fight, for sure, but usually I take off my helmet and that kind of stuff. Good learning lesson for sure."

After staying off the ice for four days, Smid was cleared to skate today.

"After what happened Sunday, I feel good. I did the bike ride, I skated today, I cleared the neuropsych test. I feel good. Just conditioning wise I'm going to probably have to do some bag skates and some bike rides and stuff like that," he explained.


COYOTES 4 - OILERS 3 (SO)

After scoring the opening goal shorthanded, the Oilers crafted a confident 3-0 lead by the middle of the second period. But the Coyotes countered with three consecutive goals to tie the game and three shootout markers to win it, resulting in a 4-3 shootout loss for the Oil at Rexall Place Friday night.

Ales Hemsky, Shawn Horcoff, and Dustin Penner scored for Edmonton in regulation, while Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall lit the lamp in the shootout. Goalie Devan Dubnyk earned third-star honours for his 41-save performance.


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

 
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 18

THE SKINNY ON SHINNY

The day after being shutout by Chicago 5-0, the Oilers took a break from their hectic November schedule and rigorous on-ice problem-solving sessions.

The team held a lengthy closed-door meeting at Rexall Place before taking to the ice at Millennium Place in Sherwood Park.

Goalie Devan Dubnyk took to the ice first, stationing himself between the pipes at the far end of the rink. The skaters then emerged from the locker rooms, dressed only in their equipment -- no jerseys.

After completing a few warm-up laps and thoroughly confusing the media in attendance, head coach Tom Renney went old school, instructing all players to put their sticks in a pile and randomly selecting two teams -- blue and white -- for a four-on-four scrimmage.

"We decided just to take the weight off a little bit this morning and let them go out and play hockey like they were born to and have some fun," Renney explained after the skate.

"I understand these are professional athletes that get paid handsomely, but anybody at work needs to be able to enjoy that. We want to make sure they are capable of that in the first place and then that we can go to work together and get ourselves some wins."

Captain Shawn Horcoff said the meeting and fun skate were important for team morale.

"We all want to win, we have great guys in here, guys that are fully committed to turning this around," he said. "It's tough and it's a stressful time for all of us. It's been a really hard 10 days, but I think at the same time [the coaches are] hoping just to try to relax us a bit and just let us go out there tomorrow and just get back to playing hockey, not thinking so much."

MISSING IN ACTION

A few players were absent from the action. Defenceman Ladislav Smid continues to feel the ill effects of a hit suffered in New York, and forward Ales Hemsky received a "maintenance day."

"He's sore and we've left him behind to get some treatment with TD (Forss, Oilers head athletic therapist)," Renney explained.

Nikolai Khabibulin was also absent. In the net opposite Dubnyk, Oilers staff attached a "shooter tutor," keeping some competitiveness in the one-goalie scrimmage.

Renney later announced that Khabibulin is out indefinitely with a groin injury.

"
He tweaked it last night and with that position it's one of those things where you've got to be real careful with naturally, and so we will be," he said. "It looks like we may be putting him on IR and if that's the case, obviously we're going to need some help."

The Oilers have tapped Martin Gerber to fill the vacant goaltending position. The veteran netminder has posted a 9-4-0 record, 2.56 GAA, and .911 SV% in 13 appearances this season with the Oilers AHL affiliate in Oklahoma City.

Press release: Oilers recall Martin Gerber

DUBNYK STEPS UP

Devan Dubnyk

With Khabibulin out, Dubnyk moves in as starting goalie for Friday night's contest vs. the Coyotes. The 24-year-old is excited about the the opportunity but isn't letting nerves or the team's current five-game losing streak influence his preparation.

"I've got to go in there and give us a chance to win hockey games -- that's my job, that's our job, it never changes," he said.
"It's important when you're in a funk like this that you do give the guys a chance to win, but you can't go out there and be trying to do something extraordinary outside of what you do. You've just got to go play the same way."

"I'm going to assume [Khabibulin's] injury isn't as serious as the one last year, but that's why you fight to be the number two goalie, so that if something happens then you're the guy that gets the opportunity," Dubnyk added. "I'm really looking forward to it. You obviously never wish bad on guys and hopefully he's back soon, but for the time being I'm going to have fun with it."

UP  NEXT

Dubnyk will lead the team onto the ice Friday night vs. the Coyotes. Limited tickets are available to snag yours now!

GET TICKETS FOR OILERS-COYOTES

ONE-ON-ONE

Dustin Penner

In the latest edition of our fan question series, Wraine Hunter of Stettler, AB submitted a question for Dustin Penner.

WRAINE: "What do you do to get motivated for all 82 games of the season? It must be hard to come out with the same effort every night."

DUSTIN: "I think you start to learn that as you get older in the game. For some guys it's all routine, some guys are just able to have that energy every day, and for other guys you have to work on maintaining yourself and getting the right amount of energy for each game.

With the travel and back-to-back games and stuff, nutrition, rest, and getting into a good routine helps."

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 Tom Gazzola

 


INSIDE THE OILERS