THE TEAM TODAY: Moving On
Nugent-Hopkins named to NHL All-Star Game, Renney & Lander on Oilers' effort
MOVING ONEdmonton, AB - Progress is progress, no matter how minor. The Oilers did drop a 2-1 decision to the New Jersey Devils in overtime one night ago, but ground was gained; a single point, mind you, but a step in the right direction amid a four-game, mid-season losing skid.
In what could widely be considered a sloppy 40-minute sequence to start the game, the Oilers came to play in the third and controlled the pace, scoring the equalizer (Ales Hemsky on the power-play) to send the game to overtime.
Sadly, an ill-timed Corey Potter penalty put the Devils' lethal man-advantage to work, allowing Zach Parise to cash and end the Oilers' winning hopes.
Spirits were high at practice this morning, however, as the team convened for an early-morning session to help quell the ever-prevalent negative vibes. The club scrimmaged in a full-ice and 3-on-3 setting to try something new, preparing for tomorrow's clash with the Anaheim Ducks with a more energetic mindset.
With 40 games to play, there's no need to get down.
"I don't recall in any of these games, except in that last period in Long Island (a 4-1 loss to New York), where we quit at all," said Head Coach Tom Renney. "I'm not suggesting we quit then, either."
"[The Devils] played a good game last night," added Anton Lander, who's notched a goal and three assists this season. "It was a tight game, but we had chances on the power-play; we've got to step up because we need the points tomorrow."
Prior to the Oilers hitting the ice this morning, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins skated with another IR-bound body, Alex Plante, to continue the rookies' rehab. It was also announced that No. 93 was selected to participate in the NHL's All-Star weekend, but it's unclear at this point if the 18-year-old will be able to go.
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"Provided he's able to," Renney said, noting his rookie's recovery timeline. "Health is No. 1 for him, too, obviously. I've had the opportunity to watch a number of young guys go to that whole experience (NHL All-Star Weekend) and it's really good. It's wonderful to be recognized and to be part of those things. It's really good to rub shoulders with other great young players within your peer group."
"I think it would it would be awesome," Nugent-Hopkins added. "I didn't really know what to expect coming into the season, but it's a big honour for me."
Nugent-Hopkins hasn't played since the team's last win, a 4-3 triumph over the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center, and is disappointed that he's been unable to get in on the action and help the club get back on the winning track.
"It's tough having to watch and not be able to go out there and play and help the guys out," he explained. "I'm going to get all the recovery I can. I'm doing some exercises with [my shoulder]. It's making progress and it's feeling a lot better, so hopefully I can get better sooner rather than later.
"The shoulder isn't something you want to mess with too much."
SICK BAY ADDITION
Following his NHL debut last night under unique circumstances (an emergency recall, replacing an ill Ryan O'Marra), Milan Kytnar was returned to the ECHL's Stockton Thunder. No. 42 was still unable to practice and was not made available to the media, but a roster move still needed to be made.
As such, Josh Green is on his way back up. The 34-year-old is on his second stint with the big club, as he was originally recalled on Jan. 3; he played in three games, posting no points and a -3 rating before being sent back to OKC four days later on Jan. 7.
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--- Ryan Dittrick, edmontonoilers.com - Follow me on Twitter | @ryandittrick