BACK TO WORK
After spending an extended weekend catching up with friends and family over All Star break, the Oilers got down to business with an hour-long practice at Rexall Place Monday afternoon.
Edmonton's lone representative at the All Star festivities, Taylor Hall, was travelling back from Raleigh and thus not present at practice.
Although the Oilers' star rookie was absent, another rookie assumed the spotlight. After ringing in the New Year with an ankle injury, Jordan Eberle participated in his first full team practice today.
"I feel good," he said after the skate. "I probably could have played last week, but I think with the way that the schedule was, it made sense to stay back and rehab, get a five-day break over the All Star break. Just that extra time hopefully will help, and when I do come back, it won't re-injure."
Fellow sick bay resident Ales Hemsky also took to the ice, albeit wearing a red no-contact jersey.
Head coach Tom Renney said further assessment is required before either player takes to the ice for a game.
"I'll see how they're doing tomorrow morning," he said. "I think they've made significant improvements. I don't want to call it day-to-day yet, but I might be telling you that tomorrow."
After missing the past 12 games, Eberle hopes to play Wednesday night vs. Los Angeles.
"It's tough when you have to watch your team out there. You want to be out there bad and help contribute. I've never really had the experience where I've had to miss games, and now that's happened and it's over with, I'm definitely anxious and excited to get back," he said.
"Obviously I think Tom (Renney) wants to make sure I'm in game shape. He has a little skating test, so hopefully everything goes well there. I'm definitely trying to push to play Wednesday."
49 DOWN, 33 TO GO
Eberle, Hemsky and their other well-rested teammates will enjoy another day of practice before beginning their push for post-All Star success. Players and coaches are feeling good about the 33-game road ahead.
"It was a good few days off. We needed it, we needed to recharge," defenceman Theo Peckham said.
"I think it's good to get your mind off things, obviously to get the physical break but get the mental break too and regroup and relax a little bit," Colin Fraser added. "Four days was nice, but back to work today and I think everybody's excited and rejuvenated to get going again.
Renney wants to see a renewed focus and fervour from his team.
"We're ready, we're fresh, I think we can really make some noise in the Western Conference," he stated. "Slowly but surely we're getting some respect. At the end of the day, you're going to have to win to get the ultimate respect from your opponents, we know that, so part of our mantra I think will just be to go out and play hard and just try to make a mess of things out here.
"If we really lock into this way we want to play, I think we have a really good shot of winning a good portion of our games, at least, moving forward."
In the latest edition of our fan question series, Amanda L. of Edmonton submitted a question for Theo Peckham.
AMANDA: "You were on Off the Record the other day. Great interview by the way. How do you manage to stay so positive all the time and always smiling?"
THEO: "I think that's just the way I am. I'm kind of a goof ball. Until I get onto the ice, I don't really take things too seriously. That's definitely the way my personality is. Guys get used to dealing with me in here. They get kind of annoyed at it, I think, sometimes. I'm always kind of goofing around and smiling.
It's tough to play the game that we play -- there are so many ups and downs, and I just take it one day at a time and keep smiling; take them as they come. I try to game-face it a little bit more on the ice. On occasion, I smile a little bit. But it's more of a 'I'm gonna get you' smile, not a 'I'm just happy having a good time' smile."
Because it was too good to pass up, we also asked Ryan Jones a question submitted by Moose Jaw's Joanna Smith:
JOANNA: "Do you know the difference between an alpaca and a llama?"
RYAN: "Actually, I do know the difference between an alpaca and a llama, because I saw that kids cartoon, where it was like that king llama guy. I think that llamas spit in your face when they get mad -- that gross spit that they have -- and alpacas don't.
Other than that, no."
(Editor's note: Ryan is incorrect. Both animals spit when agitated. To find out the real difference between alpacas & llamas, CLICK HERE.)
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