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THE TEAM TODAY

THE TEAM TODAY: Target practice

Following 12-shot performance, Oilers fine-tune firepower before facing Leafs

Monday, 13.12.2010 / 4:54 PM / The Team Today
By Jen Sharpe  - edmontonoilers.com
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THE TEAM TODAY: Target practice
 
MONDAY, DECEMBER 13

TARGET PRACTICE

Having been outshot in 23 of 29 games so far this season, Edmonton's struggle to hit the net is nothing new. But Sunday's 12-shot tally vs. Vancouver set the season standard for fewest attempts and was only one shy of the franchise record, an accomplishment no Oiler is proud of.

"That's just obviously not acceptable," forward Gilbert Brule said after Monday's practice. "I think we were just trying to make the pretty play sometimes instead of getting pucks to the net, especially in the first 10-15 minutes of the game. All we have to do is when we get inside the blue line is fire the puck on net."

To help rectify the situation, the team held a firepower-focused practice at Rexall Place.

"There wasn't a whole lot of passing or flow drills or anything, it was just a lot of shooting," Taylor Hall explained. "I think that's good for our team because especially against Vancouver and against Tampa Bay we weren't getting a lot of shots on net. It makes it a lot easier for their goalie, a lot easier for their defence, and that's something we have to fix."

The Oilers' compete level was also questioned Sunday evening, and both players and coaches are committed to preventing another uninspired outing.

"You're sitting there at the end of the game in your stall, one of the things you don't want to have on your mind is that you didn't compete hard enough," Hall said. "I think today it was a lighter practice, we'll have some energy for tomorrow and hopefully we can compete a lot harder because if we do, it is there for the taking."

TAKING IT TO TORONTO

Head coach Tom Renney hopes his club learns from the loss and applies those lessons to Tuesday's game vs. Toronto.

"In the last 10 games we've been a pretty good team," he said. "We've had a couple periods where we weren't as good as we needed to be, but hopefully we've been reacquainted enough with what it takes to be a competitive team from that experience to bring it tomorrow night."

Although the Oilers defeated the Leafs 5-0 less than two weeks ago, Renney isn't taking his opponents lightly.

"Toronto works hard. They do lots of good things, they're well put together, I like the way Willie (head coach Ron Wilson) organizes his team and how they play, and we've got to be ready for them," he said.

"There's still lots of hockey, there's lots of points out there, and we all believe -- those of us sort of at the bottom end of the ladder here -- we all believe that we can get enough points to make the playoffs at this point in time and I don't think they should think otherwise."

ACCORDING TO JIM

Jim Vandermeer

The Oilers will have to battle without Jim Vandermeer. The 30-year-old defenceman suffered a right ankle injury last night vs. Vancouver and is out indefinitely.

View Oilers Injury Report

"We'll do an MRI this afternoon and go from there," Vandermeer explained. "I think right now it feels okay but if there's any ligament damage or anything, then we'll know. It depends how you treat it. If it's just a bruise you can kind of push it and get back out there right away, then if not, just kind of let it heal up."

The injury was a bit of a fluke, he explained.

"The puck was kind of caught in Whitter's (Ryan Whitney) feet as we going coming back and I saw that I could get the puck so I went to just kind of chip it out, and as I was doing that I saw [a Canuck] was coming down to hit me so I just knew it was either go to kind of reverse hit him or just kind of take the hit.

"Realizing my position kind of drifting back, I just kind of went with the hit, took it good and was still basically standing up. I was sliding back on one foot and just caught an edge, caught a little rut in the ice, and just kind of rolled over on my ankle."

CHEER TEAM DEBUT

Oilers Cheer Team tryouts

While the Oilers will be without Vandermeer, the club and their fans will get some extra motivation from the Oilers Cheer Team, which will make its debut Tuesday night at Rexall Place. The Cheer Team is composed of 19 dancers who will add to the in-game experience, interact with fans, and assist with in-game promotions.

Read more: Cheer Team debuts Tuesday


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

 
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 12

CANUCKS 2 - OILERS 1

Trouble hitting the net translated to trouble hitting the scoreboard for the Oilers Sunday evening. After outshooting the Oil 32-12 through 60 minutes, including 14-1 in the third period alone, the Canucks snagged two points with a 2-1 victory at Rexall Place.

With Edmonton's only shot of the third period, Jordan Eberle scored his club's lone goal of the game. At the opposite end of the ice, goalie Devan Dubnyk earned third-star honours for his strong 30-save performance.

FIRST PERIOD

The Oilers and Canucks registered only one shot each in the game's first five minutes. Vancouver quickly added three more, however, including the opening goal. After Dubnyk moved over to cover Daniel Sedin, Alex Burrows got the puck at the opposite side and fired into the open net to make it 1-0 for the visitors.

One minute later, Magnus Paajarvi was dragged down on a breakaway by Andrew Alberts and awarded a penalty shot. The young Swede swerved in on net but Roberto Luongo stuck with him and stopped the attempted equalizer.

Vancouver maintained a two-to-one shot lead as the period progressed, with Dubnyk and Luongo matching each attempt with a save. After 20 minutes, the Oilers continued to trail 1-0 and were down 9-4 on the shot clock.

SECOND PERIOD

Edmonton crafted a pair of good scoring chances early in the second before a holding minor to Sam Gagner stalled their offensive pursuits. Although Dubnyk stopped both Canucks power-play attempts, four seconds after Gagner returned to play, Henrik Sedin tapped his brother's feed over the line to set the score 2-0 Vancouver.

Near the game's midway point, it was announced that Oilers blue-liner Jim Vandermeer had suffered a right ankle injury and would not return to the game.

The Canucks were up 18 shots to six when the team took the first of two consecutive penalties. The Oilers tested Luongo four more times before the period was up, but the goalie kept the home team off the clock and down by two heading into the final frame.

THIRD PERIOD

Assisted by three Edmonton penalties -- including two that overlapped for 1:48 -- Vancouver continued to dominate in the third, firing 14 additional shots before the Oil could get one on Luongo. The Oilers' perfect penalty-killing continued, however, as Dubnyk came up with some huge saves to keep his club within two.

The Oilers opted for six skaters in the final 90 seconds of regulation. With Kesler serving his second infraction of the night and only four seconds left on the clock, Jordan Eberle fired the puck past Luongo. The goal occured on Edmonton's only shot of the third period.

The Oilers battled for an equalizer but, with only seconds left, couldn't close the deal. As a result, the club dropped a 2-1 decision to their Northwest Division opponents Sunday evening.

Author: Jen Sharpe | 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

 



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