RETURN TO THE ROAD
The Edmonton Oilers head out on the road today after arguably their most successful homestand of the season.
The team is on a three-game winning streak - matching their longest of the season - after convincing victories against Dallas, Montreal and Atlanta.
Prior to departure, the team practiced this morning at Rexall Place.
The forward lines were the same as the previous three games, though Gilbert Brule was rotating in as centre on a line with Dustin Penner and Ales Hemsky.
Brule is getting closer to being taken off injured reserve.
"He can probably play, but he's not off of IR yet," noted Oilers head coach Tom Renney.
Part of the delay in terms of re-inserting Brule into the lineup has been the team's outstanding play of late.
"It's tough to deviate from (what's been a winning linup), but we'll try to keep an open mind here."
In the meantime, the team is preparing for what will be a good test - a hot Minnesota team tomorrow followed by an Avalanche team on Wednesday that's had their season fall off the rails.
"I think we feel pretty good about our game right now and I think if we play the same team game we have a chance to do something," Ales Hemsky said.
SOURAY UP, CHORNEY DOWN (SORT OF)
One player who was notably absent from practice is defenceman Taylor Chorney.
He has been moved off the team's 23-man roster in order to make room for Sheldon Souray.
Souray cleared re-entry waivers at 10:00 a.m. today and was added to the team's roster. The Oilers have put him back on waivers and he must now remain on the 23-man roster for 24 hours until he clears again. At that time, he can then be re-assigned to Hershey.
Renney said he was surprised nobody was interested in taking Souray at half price.
"As a hockey player, it's a bit shocking to be honest with you. I think Sheldon's a good player and I think he can help a lot of teams who need something like that down the stretch. It's a little bit unusual, to me, but I'm not a General Manager," said Renney. "He's got way too much to offer a team that needs that kind of help right now."
In the meantime, the odd man out is Taylor Chorney who must now fly to Oklahoma City. Souray, in the meantime, has to actually fly to Edmonton.
"He's been re-assigned, basically," Renney said.
As for a potential recall of Chorney, Renney pointed out that wasn't the inevitable next step.
"Depends on what happens," he said. "All I know is he's not with us."
Ladislav Smid wore a non-contact jersey. He skated but it was a maintenance day for him.
HEMSKY NHL'S THIRD STAR
On the strength of an outstanding week, Ales Hemsky earned honours as the NHL's Third Star of the past seven days.
Hemsky led all scorers in the entire NHL last week with seven points (four goals, three assists) as the Oilers (19-32-8) posted three consecutive victories. He had multi-point games in each of the three matches starting with a goal and assist in a 4-1 victory over the Dallas Stars Feb. 15. Two days later, he had a pair of goals as the Oilers defeated Montreal 4-1. On Saturday, he recorded a goal and two assists - all in the third period - in a 5-3 comeback win over the Atlanta Thrashers.
"It's nice to be recognized by that. The most important thing is we start playing better as a team," said Hemsky.
The Czech winger also attributed his success to being reunited with Horcoff and Penner. The trio has had plenty of success together in the past.
"For me, I just feel strong with Pens and Horc. We've played together a long time and just know what to expect from each other," Hemsky continued. "It's been pretty fun."
In the latest edition of our fan question series, Amanda L. of Edmonton submitted a question for Ryan Jones.
AMANDA: "So how many cookies did you get at the Autograph session?"
RYAN: "A lot! I didn't even count them but I brought two big ziploc bags full here so I've stil got a few at home. But it was pretty sweet, a lot of Cookies by George I think the store is called and a couple homemade ones. I haven't tasted them to see which ones are best."
On his Twitter account (@jonesry28), Jones made a mention to fans attending Sunday's autograph session that he would be trading hugs for cookies.
"Honestly, I was just goofing around. My brother didn't think that I'd have any followers on Twitter so I told him that I put on there that if they brought cookies they would get hugs. I tweeted it and next thing you know I got a ton of cookies. So, I won."
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: Marc Ciampa | edmontonoilers.com, with files from Bob Stauffer & Tom Gazzola