Sign in with your NHL account:
  • Submit
  • Or
  • Sign in with Google
WATCH EDM @ CGY & CGY @ EDM BOTH RIGHT HERE TONIGHT AT 6PM
THE TEAM TODAY

THE TEAM TODAY: Two to go

Goal of strong finish & hope for next season softens last-place sting for Oilers

Thursday, 07.04.2011 / 4:22 PM / The Team Today
By Jen Sharpe  - edmontonoilers.com
X
Share with your Friends


THE TEAM TODAY: Two to go
THURSDAY, APRIL 7

TWO TO GO

On the heels of Wednesday's  6-1 collapse in Calgary, the Oilers set aside their skates and opted for an off-ice workout Thursday morning at Rexall Place.

Two injured players were the exception: Ryan Whitney and Sam Gagner  took to the ice in full gear, continuing their respective recoveries from ankle and hand surgeries.

"
It's feeling good and I've been doing a lot of physio and treatment on it and it's getting a lot better," Gagner said. "As far as skating, it's just a matter of trying to keep my cardio there, and it's a little more fun than riding the bike. It's nice to get out there and feel my skates, feel the puck."

The 21-year-old doesn't anticipate any issues with his off-season conditioning.

"What I've been told, after three months it's going to be 100 per cent. It's been about month now and it's starting to feel a lot better. I'm already starting to train with different methods, but I'm feeling good so I don't think it's going to hinder my training at all this summer and I should be ready to go (next season)," he said.

Another player on the injured list, Tom Gilbert, did not skate Thursday. After ending his 332-game iron man streak by missing Tuesday's contest vs Vancouver, the defenceman continues to be plagued by back problems and has no timeline for return.

"I've had back problems in the past, but it was just one of those things that I didn't think it was going to be that big a deal and all of a sudden, it just kind of snuck up on me and there's not a whole lot I could do on it," he said. "Obviously I wanted to play, don't like missing any games, and usually I can battle through that, but I couldn't bend over and obviously that was going to affect the way I played."

TURNING 30

In addition to injuries, another hot topic among the media was statistics, namely that the Oilers have clinched 30th place for the second consecutive year.

Though finishing last is frustrating and disappointing to coaches, players, management, and fans, the club is not disheartened: a positive attitude, notable individual improvements, and a high pick in the upcoming NHL entry draft mean the bright side is fairly easy to find.

"It's not a good feeling to finish where we have two years in a row. We feel like, despite our record this year, we have made strides and there is hope coming in the future," Gagner said. "We have to find a way to turn ourselves into winners and it's not going to come easy, but I think there's definitely hope and we're all excited going into next year."

Thanks to impressive contributions from this season's crop of rookies and the addition of two 2011 first-round draft picks (Edmonton's pick and the pick acquired from Los Angeles in the Dustin Penner trade), expectations will be exponentially greater for the Oilers in 2011-12.

Success will depend on a variety of factors, head coach Tom Renney explained.

"There's a mindset that goes along with winning, there's an attention to detail that goes along with winning, there's an investment made in the off-season, so that you have the type of start you're looking for that is required before you start winning," he said. "Turnarounds take a lot of patience but they also take perseverance and they take a little bit of luck, there's no question about that, but they also take that need to seize the opportunity, seize the moment, and learn how to win properly, and I think we're on the right track with that."

According to Renney, pride and a sense of responsibility are other important components of a successful team. The coach wants to end the season with those values intact.

"We are a team of pride, we represent the City of Edmonton, quite honestly, and as much as that's a cliche, I don't care what people think about that. That's important to me, and I think it should be to each and every one of [the players], and the way they've played these last few weeks, I think that you can see that they care," he said.

"If you reflect back on this entire season, as much as it's been tough and we've had nights where we haven't looked very good, I think for the most part you can say that this team cared. There's a lot to be said for that. Let's not end it on anything other than a positive note with our effort."

FRIDAY'S FINALE

Paul Lorieau will make his final on-ice anthem performance Friday, April 8 at Rexall Place. (Photo by Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club)

The Oilers' final home game of the season goes down tomorrow at 7:00pm vs Minnesota. Not only will this be the last chance for Edmonton-based fans to watch the 2010-11 squad in person, it will also be their last chance to witness Paul Lorieau sing the national anthems.

For almost 30 years, Paul's rich tenor voice has announced the start of Oilers home games. Limited tickets are available, so act now to watch the final performance of this Oil Country legend.

PURCHASE TICKETS
Video tribute to Paul Lorieau
Paul's retrospective photo gallery


ONE-ON-ONE

In the latest edition of our fan question series, Lia of Edmonton submitted a question for Andrew Cogliano.

LIA: "If you could pick your own goal song to play after you score what would it be?"

Andrew Cogliano

ANDREW: "'Eminence Front' by The Who would be awesome. We were talking about that being one of our warm-up songs this year, but I think it would be a cool goal song for me. I love that tune."

How much say do you the players have in the music selection?

"We pick our own warm-up music now and we really like to switch it up. I think we want to try and pick our entrance song next year. I'm not sure what that would be yet, but we'll definitely have a good one if we can find a way to pick our own."

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 Dan Tencer & Tom Gazzola

 
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 6

OILERS at FLAMES:
MORNING COMMENTS

Coming off the heels of two improbable wins in regulation time against the top team in the NHL, the Edmonton Oilers head into Calgary where they aim to sink the Flames' dwindling playoff hopes.

"This is such a great rivalry and it's a great opportunity to be a part of the Battle of Alberta and I think our guys have identified with that all year long," said Oilers head coach Tom Renney.

"And I think, too, with how we handled our last game in Edmonton (against Calgary) we want to make sure we're better than that for 60 minutes."

Renney, of course, was referring to the team squandering a 4-1 third-period lead to eventually lose 5-4 in the the shootout 11 days ago at Rexall Place.

"We have to give them some credit," Renney said of Calgary's comeback performance that day. "They came out and did what they had to do to get themselves back into the game and ultimately win it."

Renney went on to point out that despite Calgary's improved performance getting them back into that game, ultimately it's how the Oilers play that will make the difference.

"We will worry less about them and more about what we have to do in order to have success but certainly conscious of the fact that we have to play 60 minutes."

KHABIBULIN STARTS; CHORNEY IN

Renney announced that he'll be starting Nikolai Khabiublin in goal tonight after Devan Dubnyk picked up the last two victories.

"I'm going to go with Khabi tonight," he said. "I'm going to make sure he gets a couple of games down the stretch here and see how that plays itself out at the end of the day."

By process of elimination, that means with three games left (including tonight), Khabibulin will get two starts while Dubnyk will get one more.

"Devan will have played a lot more than we anticipated (at the start of the season) - certainly, we think enough - and he'll get another start here too before we're done."

The only other lineup change will be Taylor Chorney who draws in for the first time since February 22.

"I think Chorns is good to go. I wanted him to have another skate today and I'll get some feedback from Steve (Smith) and Kelly (Buchberger) on how he made out there. He felt good when I talked to him again last night."

The blueliner has been sidelined with a knee injury. Making room for Chorney, Strudwick moves up to forward. Tom Gilbert did not make the trip so he'll miss his second straight game with a back injury.

Since the team played with only 17 skaters last night, nobody needs to draw out of the lineup.

EBERLE READY TO GO

Despite nearly being injured after reaching the infamous 42-point mark on Tuesday thanks to an errant elbow from Vancouver's Raffi Torres, Jordan Eberle is fine and will play tonight in Calgary. In fact, despite the seriousness of the hit, he did not miss a shift.

"I feel fine," said Eberle. "I've taken worse hits in my career. It's part of the game and actually I feel pretty good."

The rookie winger gave his version of the events.

"I saw it, looked at and obviously put myself in a pretty vulnerable position, reaching for the puck. I think he blindsides me but we'll let the League decide. We should move on."


FLAMES 6 - OILERS 1

Jarome Iginla scored three goals to lead the Calgary Flames to a 6-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers at the Saddledome on Wednesday night. Playing on back-to-back nights after a tough win last night against Vancouver, Edmonton was outshot 47 to 22.

The Oilers' lone goal was scored by Magnus Paajarvi.

Author: Marc Ciampa | edmontonoilers.com, with files from Tom Gazzola & Bob Stauffer

 
TUESDAY, APRIL 5

OILERS vs. CANUCKS:
AT THE MORNING SKATE

With vengeful Vancouver gearing up on the other side of Rexall Place, the Oilers started their game day with a quick skate Tuesday morning.

Following Monday's injury updates, there were few surprises on the ice.

Ladislav Smid was present on the blue line and, as head coach Tom Renney predicted yesterday, he will play tonight.

"(He) skated yesterday for a few minutes and was fine, and again this morning he said he felt fine," the coach said.

With Smid good to go, Taylor Chorney will not rejoin the line-up and will continue his recovery from a knee injury that has sidelined him for the past 17 games.

Up front, the Oilers will be without Gilbert Brule and Colin Fraser. Brule continues to suffer from an undisclosed illness/injury, while Fraser will miss his third consecutive game due to a foot injury.

"It's sore, it's swollen, it's sort of okay and then it's not. So we're looking at it on a day-to-day basis," Renney explained about Fraser.

To fill the forward gaps, defenceman Jason Strudwick will don his offensive cap and play on the fourth line with Jean-Francois Jacques and Steve MacIntyre.

Edmonton's rash of injuries has made line-up consistency a challenge this season, but Renney is trying to make the most of it.

"I'm trying to develop as much chemistry as I can but also have balance," he said. "We'll put the best team on the ice we possibly can, combinations that will give us success."

Devan Dubnyk will start in net.

CLASHING WITH CANUCKS

Following Saturday's 4-1 win in Vancouver, Oilers coaches and players agree that their opponents will be extra fiery tonight.

"They've got the most points and we've got the least points, so you can figure that out yourself," Magnus Paajarvi said. "They're always going to come out hungry and with more battle level in their whole team, so we really have to match our battle level that we had last game and even increase that to have a chance for the two points here."

"Vancouver's one of the best teams in the league and it gave us some confidence coming into tonight," Kurtis Foster added. "We have four tough games coming up this week and hopefully it gives us some confidence tonight and it will be nice to get a big win in front of the fans."

Renney wants his team to play with confidence and not get caught up in the Canucks' impressive numbers.

"With a year like this, given our circumstances, you look for those little opportunities that you can feel good about and allow yourself to feel like we're going in the right direction, and this is another opportunity against a great team and that's how we'll approach it. The only reason we had success in Vancouver is because of that, quite honestly," he said.

"Beyond that, we've got to make sure that we don't get consumed by their reputation and who and what they are and what they've achieved. This is all about us, having the opportunity to play a really good team and play hard within our structure."

With only four games remaining in the season, Renney continues to focus on victories and accomplishments that aren't necessarily evident on the final scoresheet.

"Perfection belongs in a different domain than hockey, quite honestly, but excellence is something you can pursue every day. And unfortunately for our team, as hard as we've tried, it hasn't always resulted in the win.

"It's our job as coaches to make sure that the game plan is there, that there's growth in our players, that we can look at success maybe in different quantities other than the 'W' at the end of the night."


OILERS 2 - CANUCKS 0

Vancouver was looking for vengeance at Rexall Place Tuesday night but was sent home scoreless instead. Thanks to great goaltending from Devan Dubnyk and key offensive contributions from Ryan Jones and Magnus Paajarvi, Edmonton secured a 2-0 shutout win over the League's top team.

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

 

 

INSIDE THE OILERS