THE TEAM TODAY

THE TEAM TODAY: Good Vibes

Oilers hold high-spirited practice, talk Omark & more Saturday morning

Saturday, 11.12.2010 / 6:05 PM / The Team Today
By Ryan Dittrick  - edmontonoilers.com
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 11

GOOD VIBES

After coming away with a thrilling victory in the shootout one night ago, the Oilers were back at Rexall Place for a brief morning session in preparation for Sunday night’s battle with the division rival Vancouver Canucks.

With the team now back in the win column following a shootout setback Tuesday night against the Ducks, the players were all smiles as the gratification of a five-game point streak is enhancing the atmosphere.

AN IMPRESSIVE DEBUT

A spectacular move in the shootout by recent call-up Linus Omark is still the talk of the town, with teammates still aglow from his incredible showcase of creativity.

"I thought it was great," said Dustin Penner. "It reminded me of Kenny Powers. You just have to embrace that. I know they're upset in the other room, but I also remember Marty St. Louis skating backwards in on Marc-Andre Fleury. I enjoyed it."

Taylor Hall, who also possesses a clever repertoire of shootout moves, agreed and says the goal was great for everyone.

"It's exciting to watch him play. I was chuckling when they put him out there because I knew something was going to happen. Sure enough, he did the spin-o-rama," said the dynamic forward. "It’s great for our team and for our city."

Rugged defenceman Theo Peckham also commented, sarcastically adding that the spotlight was taken away from him – who, according to the blueliner, was next up in the shootout order.

"Yeah, the 360 is straight out of my playbook. I've done so many shootouts in my past before, so I just gave him a couple pointers."

On a more serious note, he admired the skill, creativity and poise from the rookie forward.

"For him to get put out there with the game on the line and pull something that and score, it's awesome. It shows a lot about his character. He's a big-time player and he showed up for us when we needed him," Peckham added.

Head Coach Tom Renney
Head Coach Tom Renney, who was in staunch support of Omark’s ingenuity a night ago, was more reserved in his comments today regarding the move and ensuing goal.

"You want him to play his game and that's a part of the game. I can't restrict him from being creative," said the bench boss. "Just respect the league, respect your opponent, do what you do best, and beyond that, deal with it appropriately."

Although the coach was somewhat hesitant to expand further on the league-wide reaction, Renney was quick to back the talent of the highly-skilled Swede.

"On the powerplay coming off the half wall, a cute little move there, and then a little deception that got him the opportunity to pop that puck off the pad, and there's a rebound for Gibby (Tom Gilbert)," said Renney. "It shows you that he's got the vision and the cojones to do something like that."

"He's not afraid of anything. He'll reverse pinch on a puck coming out, he'll take a hit to make a play -- he's all those things. It was a good first game."

The man himself, Linus Omark, was quiet about his debut and says that the nerves of his first NHL game are nice to have out of the way.

"I was pretty nervous yesterday, so I hope tomorrow is going to be a good game for me -- and for the team."

"It was a fun night last night," he added.

PECKHAM STANDS UP

Theo Peckham
Theo Peckham entered the season as a bit of an unknown commodity, but has risen to the challenge in a big way through the season’s first third.

The unflappable, hard-hitting blueliner has quietly developed into one of the team’s most dependable defensive players; a strong commitment to physical play and a personality that rises to any challenge has only helped to further his admiration from the coaching staff.

"Anybody that plays the way I do has to take a lot of pride and has to enjoy it," Peckham said. "It's definitely been a new challenge, and I've appreciated it. The coaches have shown a lot of faith in me, putting me up against the other teams' best players."

"It's just something I'm trying to work at, shutting them down night-in and night-out."

Head Coach Tom Renney expanded on that with his thoughts on the emergence of the up-and-coming blueliner.

"The beauty [of Peckham] is that he can play. He's getting it, and there's not a whole lot of restriction there except for experience."

GOOD VIBES   

With the team currently riding a six-game point streak, recording a 5-0-1 record in that span, the atmosphere around the rink has provided this young club with greater flexibility to grow and come together as a group. Dustin Penner believes that the positive atmosphere has helped to enhance any recent expectations from the learning Oilers.

Dustin Penner
"It's a great room. Any room is great when you're winning. We're looking forward to the Canucks tomorrow night. They had a pretty emotional win, come-from-behind against the Ducks the other night so I'm sure they'll be jacked up."

Theo Peckham agreed.

"I think we're hungry for more. It's been a great little stretch here, but you're only as good as your last game. As far as now goes, we're looking forward to tomorrow and Vancouver, coming out with the same performance against them and coming out for a big two points."

SPEAKING OF THE CANUCKS

With the fans and media still basking in the glory of a thrilling victory and a tremendous output of success over the past week, the team has already shifted focus to what will most certainly be a difficult test tomorrow against the Northwest Division leading Canucks.

"A team like that, you can't pay attention to their record," Theo Peckham said. "They've got some great players. Much like ourselves; don't look at our record. We're playing well right now and we want to take that into tomorrow's game, and from the drop of the puck, take it to them."

Taylor Hall agreed and further commented on the positives to take from the team’s most recent game against Vancouver.

"They're a good team, but at the same time, we played them in our building once this year and we gave them a good go."

"They have a lot of depth at forward and defence, and obviously their goaltending is very good. It's going to take a very good game from us, but with the way that we've been playing -- and we have some confidence now -- if we play our game we should be good."

Head Coach Tom Renney wants his group to be prepared from the drop of the puck, as the dynamic Canucks offence can attack in an instant.

"We have to really come out hard and go after them, and really make it tough for them to find their legs. Their specialty teams are very good, so ours have to match that at the very least," said Renney. "Be poised, be confident, and have composure."

A limited number of singles and standing room tickets are still available for tomorrow night's game. Don't miss your chance to watch these two division rivals go head-to-head!

  Click to purchase tickets


ONE-ON-ONE

In the latest edition of our fan question series, Joe Mazeroll of Edmonton, AB submitted a question for Ryan Jones.

JOE: "In your career to date, which team captain gave you the most inspiration, motivation and encouragement on and off ice?"

Ryan Jones

RYAN: "Definitely Jason Arnott, in my first year in Nashville. I was living with him for the first couple months. It was cool to have him -- a guy that's played around the league, and he's basically done everything that you can do in hockey; he scored a Stanley Cup winning goal.

So it was fun to live with him in the summers and see the way he trains, the way he takes care of his body, and the way he lives life. He lives life right, and that's the reason that he's been able to have a long career and accomplish the things that he has."

We've learned a little bit more this week about your career in junior and in college, where does Andy Green fall into that category and what did he mean to your development as a player?

"He was huge. He was a big part of that Miami program and he was a lot of fun to learn from. It was trial by fire when we first got there -- the team wasn't too great and all of a sudden we got some talent in there with guys like Nate Davis and some other guys that aren't around too much anywhere.

We just went out there and lit a flame a little bit to help the program roll. Andy was a guy that held the team together that first year. It was tough because we lost a lot of games, and college is a balance between hockey and fun. You have to have the right balance and he was good at that."

  Ryan Jones: One-on-One

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 Bob Stauffer & Tom Gazzola

 
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 10

OILERS vs. LIGHTNING:
AT THE MORNING SKATE

After taking two days to work on their fitness and hone some skills during practice, the Oilers were back in game-day mode Friday morning.

As promised, head coach Tom Renney kept Thursday's practice lines intact, matching call-ups Linus Omark and Ryan O'Marra with Ryan Jones:

Hall - Gagner - Eberle
Penner - Cogliano - Paajarvi
Jacques - Fraser - Brule
Omark - O'Marra - Jones

While O'Marra has three previous NHL games on his resume, Omark will make his debut tonight.

"Of course I'm excited," he said after the skate. "It's like when I was a kid, you dream about this and it happens tonight."

Fellow Swede Magnus Paajarvi is confident his countryman will do well.

"I know he's going to do great," he said. "He can handle his nerves. He's been playing a lot of big games and I know he plays good in the big moments as well, and I have no doubt in my mind that he's going to do well. And I like him as a friend too."

With the addition of Omark and O'Marra, Edmonton will ice five rookies tonight vs. Tampa Bay. Renney wants his young group to be comfortable and confident.

"It's not often where a young player gets to jump into a line-up like a couple of ours have and get to learn right here, at this level, and try to pull it off, but this is a unique year for the Edmonton Oilers," the coach said. "We're hoping that the learning is quick.

"We want to make sure that we give them an opportunity to succeed, that they understand what the game plan is, they understand they can play to their strengths, obviously, and they won't be held hostage for mistakes that might happen because of that," Renney added.

"We want them to do what they do best. The bottom line is the quicker they're able to sort of assimilate into our team game, naturally, the better."

LIGHTNING STRIKE PREVENTION

The rookies won't have the luxury of easing into the NHL tonight. With Tampa Bay as their opponent, the Oilers are tasked with containing some of the league's top producers in Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis.

Defenceman Tom Gilbert knows it won't be an easy task.

"They're great players, they see the ice really well, so as much time and ice you can take away from them, the better it will be," he said. "Just try to limit their options and that's the most they can do."

With points in six of their last seven games, the Oilers are confident, Gilbert added.

"It was a great effort (last game vs. Anaheim), especially in the third period. We're finding ways to get ourselves back in games, compete hard for  a full 60 minutes. That's what we're looking for. Unfortunately it was not the end that we wanted, but we're just going to keep moving forward. We're doing the things that we want to do and our team play has been great," he said.

THERE'S NO 'C' IN OILERS

The Oil will have to battle the Bolts without their captain Shawn Horcoff. The veteran centerman suffered a knee injury Tuesday night vs. the Ducks and is expected to be out for several weeks.

Renney said his staff are talking over the captaincy issue and will likely go with three associate captains tonight. He refused to name names, however.


OILERS 4 - LIGHTNING 3 (SO)

Buoyed by strong goaltending from Nikolai Khabibulin and impressive offensive performances by their five rookies, the Oilers powered to a 4-3 come-from-behind shootout win over Tampa Bay Friday night. Magnus Paajarvi, Taylor Hall, and Tom Gilbert scored in regulation, while Jordan Eberle and Linus Omark scored in the shootout to seal the win.

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

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 9

WARM WELCOME

The Oilers were all smiles at Rexall Place Thursday morning, and not just because photographer Andy Delvin demanded big grins.

After posing for a team photo at center ice, the players and coaches were joined by over 80 Oilers head office staff, who shuffled out for an organizational group photo.

The center face-off circle was filled with happy faces, among them two young call-ups who were donning the Oilers jersey for the first time this season.

To help fill the vacancies left by injured Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky, Edmonton recalled Linus Omark and Ryan O'Marra from the AHL's Oklahoma City Barons Tuesday afternoon. Following the team photos, the forwards joined their new teammates in a lengthy practice.

Omark and O'Marra were paired up with Ryan Jones during the skate. The other forward lines were as follows:

Hall - Gagner - Eberle
Penner - Cogliano - Paajarvi
Jacques - Fraser - Brule

Head coach Tom Renney said he will keep the call-ups on the same line Friday night vs. Tampa Bay but the lines will likely change as the Oilers homestand continues.

"To start with, I think that's our point of view, to let them play together," he explained. "I think it's safe to say too that Omark will move around a little bit and Ryan will play with some different people. ... We'll see how it goes."

"You want to put them in a position to have success," Renney continued. "Linus is not going to play on our fourth line. That doesn't make any sense at all. The fact of the matter is he could move up in our line-up because that's kind of what he is. Whereas Ryan, for example, in my mind is a good third or fourth line player, to kill penalties and really give us some size and strength up the middle and be a contributor on both sides of the puck."

'I WAS ECSTATIC'

Linus Omark

As one of the Oilers last cuts in the pre-season, Omark had trouble hiding his disappointment the last time he addressed the media in Edmonton. Today, however, he was confident and optimistic.

"
When I get something like that against me, I try to prove everybody that I can be better, so I tried to do that," he said. "I'm excited to play my first game. I worked a lot on my things down there so I'm glad to be here."

O'Marra is also thrilled about the opportunity to play with the Oil.

"It's every guy's dream playing down there to get up here, and everyone's working towards that, so when I got the call, I was ecstatic."

While Omark is known for his flashy plays -- "When I feel good and have confidence, I do it," he said -- O'Marra is going to keep it simple.

"I don't think they're expecting me to come in here and score 30 goals," he explained. "I'm here to win some face-offs, play simple and physical ... Basically do what I'm doing well down there, play to my strengths and not try to do anything outside the box."

Renney admires the 23-year-old's poise.

"Ryan has stuck with it, there's no question about that, and for two years in a row now I've sat in with him and told him he's going to the farm team, and both circumstances he handled it extremely well.," the coach said. "Not that he wanted to go, not that he was happy with it, but he was very professional and sounded very driven to get himself to the National Hockey League one way or another. This might be the 'other' but he's here and he wants to make the best of his opportunity."


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

 


Author: Ryan Dittrick | edmontonoilers.com

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