After returning home from a disappointing five game road trip where the Oilers were only able to pick up one win, the team held a practice on Tuesday.
Because of the Oilers’ growing injury situation, only nine forwards took part in practice (Andrew Cogliano, Jordan Eberle, Colin Fraser, Ryan Jones, Steve MacIntyre, Linus Omark, Magnus Paajarvi, Liam Reddox, and recent call-up Teemu Hartikainen).
Injured defenceman Theo Peckham also took to the ice after missing seven games due to a concussion.
INJURIES AND SURGERIES AND CONCUSSIONS, OH MY!
After losing Taylor Hall to a high-ankle sprain earlier this month, Sam Gagner and J-F Jacques were also added to the growing list of injured players which includes Shawn Horcoff, Gilbert Brule, Ales Hemsky, and Theo Peckham.
Though Hall is frustrated his rookie season ended much sooner than he though, he understands that it might be better for him, and the team, to take the time to heal instead of trying to rush back.
“I don’t think it would be right for a player to miss 8 weeks and then go in there and play. I think someone else could do a better job,” Hall said to the media. “It might be different if I was able to come back at the end of the regular season for a few games, but there’s just no chance of that happening.”
After taking a Paajarvi shot to the foot in Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh, Shawn Horcoff suffered a hairline fracture to his left foot, but is hopeful he won’t miss much time.
“The good news is it’s not displaced,” said the Oilers captain of the injury. “Best case scenario, is 7 - 10 days.”
Ales Hemsky revealed to the media today that he was aware of his shoulder injury and was playing throughout the season with pain.
“I missed last season; I didn’t want to say to much. I wanted to play.” said Hemsky who now must go through 4 - 6 months of rehab. “A lot of players have tears [in the tendon], sometimes you don’t even know. It’s just when it starts being painful and start bugging your normal life and stuff like that; then it’s something wrong.”
Sam Gagner also talked about the freak accident on the bench during last Wednesday’s game against Washington that saw his season come to an end after Ryan Jones’ skate severed a tendon in his hand.
“When you’re just sitting on the bench you don’t expect to get hurt,” said a frustrated Gagner. “They said the surgery went well and I was going to be out for about 3 months.”
Defenceman Theo Peckham, who was out with a concussion, skated with the team at practice today and is optimistic about returning to the lineup.
“They don’t want to put me in a vulnerable position out there,” Peckham said after being asked if he would be in the lineup on Thursday against the Coyotes. “I trust the training staff and coaching staff that when they let me go I’ll be ready.”
Head coach Tom Renney understands the frustrations surrounding all the injuries facing the Oilers, but, is looking at the situation as a positive experience for the prospects to get some experience playing in the NHL.
“Adversity is part of every team’s season no matter what. What we have to do is learn how to deal with that as a group, first as a coaching staff and how we maneuver our lineup. As an organization, in terms of who we call up to help continue grow this thing and provide opportunity.”
Oilers captain Shawn Horcoff is also trying to pull positives out of the current injury situation.
“It’ll be a good opportunity for some young guys to get a lot more minutes and some quality time in situations they wouldn’t normally play as much in.”
JF Jacques and Gilbert Brule are also out with injuries and did not practice. Jacques left Friday’s game against Detroit and did not skate at practice today due to a sore foot. He will not play Thursday, but is expected to be day-to-day after that according to Renney. Brule, who suffered a concussion in Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh, also will not play in Thursday’s game.
HARTIKAINEN CALLED UP
Recent call-up Teemu Hartikainen skated with the team at practice today.
Prior to being called up, the 20 year old Oklahoma City Baron rookie had put up impressive numbers in the AHL. In 66 games, Hartikainen had scored 17 goals and 25 assists for 42 points with a respectable -1 rating.
When asked about how he feels about joining the team, Hartikainen spoke enthusiastically about his chance with the big club.
“I’m so excited,” he told the media, “If I play well, I can show and take my spot. It’s really good for me.”
Knowing that the Oilers were short on offense due to the growing injury problem,, Tom Renney spoke of the contributions that he was hoping Hartikainen could make.
“He has the capacity to score, and it’s those tough goals, that blue paint contribution that you need in today’s game,” Renney said of the recent call-up. “That’s certainly something we’re looking for him to add to our lineup. I’m not surprised he’s here. I would like it to be under different circumstances, but the bottom line is he’s here and will make good of that opportunity.”
When asked what he could provide for the team when playing perfect, Hartikainen gave a simple answer.
“A perfect game for me is a few good hits, driving to the net, maybe a goal. Driving to the net all the time, that’s my game.”
In the latest edition of our fan question series, Chris Eldstrom from Edmonton submitted a question for the Oilers' Steve MacIntyre.
CHRIS: "Who do you think would be the toughest guy to drop the gloves against and why?
STEVE: "Probably Eric Goddard, broke my face a couple years ago. I would say he’s probably the toughest guy I’ve come against for sure."
Who is a legend you would like to have faced or a guy where you might have been "whoa, I’m fighting this guy"?
"I fought Wade Belak last year and said I grew up watching him. He played for the [Saskatoon] Blades, I played for the Blades. He wore 33, I wore 33. I was actually more blown away from meeting him. Then I got to fight him and I had a pretty big grin on my face. He was always a guy my dad made sure I watched and tried to learn a few things from. Obviously meeting Marty McSorley and those kind of guys is a huge bonus too."
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: Karmela Arocena | edmontonoilers.com, with files from Tom Gazzola