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