Following Thursday's 3-1 loss to the Coyotes, the Oilers skipped an on-ice practice and instead took their training off-ice for a workout in the team gym Friday morning.
While the previous night's result was disappointing, both players and coaches agreed the club's effort was admirable. The Oilers out-shot the Coyotes 36-17, no small feat considering five of their top seven scorers are injured and seven rookies were in the line-up, including two playing their first-ever NHL games.
"If we come out with the type of effort we had last night and manage the puck well and hopefully have a little more success, for example on our power-play, then I think we've got a real good shot at winning," head coach Tom Renney said.
The coach was pleased with the performances of his team's most-recent additions, call-ups Teemu Hartikainen, Ryan O'Marra, Alex Giroux, and Chris Vande Velde.
"I thought they did good," Renney said. "We knew they would work hard, we knew that game one for them would be emotional and lots of adrenaline, and what we hoped for was that they would be able to play within the structure.
"You could tell that they were proud to be here, you could tell they wanted badly to contribute, and ... they wanted to do well on behalf of themselves to put out a good showing. I get that, and I appreciate that. And the beauty of it is, they did it all for their team," he added.
Vande Velde, who along with Hartikainen made his NHL debut last night, said the game was "a lot of fun."
"It was just a good experience. I think I'll be much more prepared to play against Colorado on Saturday here, so I'm looking forward to that and hopefully I'll just go out there and play well."
ANTICIPATING THE AVALANCHE
Edmonton will carry a five-game losing streak into tomorrow night's game, but that pales in comparison to Colorado's current 10-game skid. The Oilers were responsible for two of those Avalanche losses, but Renney doesn't think a third victory will come easily.
"Colorado is a good hockey club and they're proud too. They're going to want to win. They're going to look at us the same way we look at them and come after us, so we've got to be ready for that," he said.
|Will Theo Peckham return to the line-up Saturday? "We'll see how he's doing tomorrow," head coach Tom Renney said. (Photo by Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club)
The Oilers might get some help from defenceman Theo Peckham, who has missed the past eight games with a concussion but completed the final phase of his recovery -- coach Renney's skating test -- this morning.
"I liked the numbers much better today than I did a few days ago, so I'll sleep on that one and we'll see," Renney said.
Two other injured players skated this morning -- Jean-Francois Jacques (foot) and Ryan Whitney (ankle) -- but the coach confirmed they are not ready to return to the line-up.
"[Jacques] went out real quick and came right back off. It's just too sore in the skate, so I think for the time being at least, it's status quo," he explained.
Whitney underwent "season-ending" surgery in January, and Renney dismissed any notion of rushing the veteran defenceman's recovery so that he can play again before summer hits.
"If he's ready to play and play a significant amount and contribute to our cause, then I would entertain that. If it's just to sort of say 'Okay, we got one game in before the end of the year, we're back,' I mean, he's going to be back in September anyway. What's the big deal?"
OTHER LINE-UP NOTES
Speaking of defensive veterans, Jason Strudwick blocked a shot and hobbled off the ice last game but will play tomorrow.
"I think Struddy's fine to go. I don't think there's any issues there at all," Renney said.
Behind Strudwick and his fellow skaters will be goaltender Devan Dubnyk, who has dropped his past three decisions but is eager to get back into the win column.
Single and standing tickets are still available for the game. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE
In the latest edition of our fan question series, Harleen of Edmonton submitted a question for Alex Giroux.
HARLEEN: "Who is your roommate and what is his worst habit that bugs you?"
ALEX: "Down in Oklahoma it is Phil Cornet and he always sleeps. It doesn't matter what time it is, the light's out all the time so I always have to be quiet. Here it was Paajarvi, and we're on the same schedule. We don't nap in the afternoon, so the lights are always on and I like it. "
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 Bob Stauffer & Tom Gazzola