THE TEAM TODAY: Rocky Mountain High
Oilers arrive in Denver and practice at the Pepsi Center on the heels of a big 6-5 win in Chicago
ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGHDENVER, CO - Coming off a thrilling 6-5 win in Chicago, the Edmonton Oilers had a team meeting and an optional skate on Monday afternoon in Denver in preparation for Tuesday night's final game in this nine-game marathon trip.
Ryan Jones, Shawn Horcoff, Ben Eager, Lennart Petrell, Nail Yakupov, Ryan Smyth, Mike Brown, Theo Peckham, Mark Fistric and both goaltenders were the participants in the practice.
At the conclusion of the practice, Ralph Krueger reflected a little more on last night's wild 6-5 win over Chicago.
"First of all, it stops the bleeding of the losses. You need to get a win in our situation to confirm our path. It's the process that we continue to work at. Even today here, we're working on where can we improve, what can we take out of that game. And also looking at the good things that happened that were able to bring us that win," said Krueger. "The win gives us a really nice energy here today where we can get back to work and continue to try and find that first opportunity of stringing some games together.
"Getting hungry about it is what we were all about today."
The Oilers had a 4-0 lead in the game and the Blackhawks did come on strong, particularly after scoring their fifth goal to make it 6-5 but Krueger liked the way his team responded.
"After the 6-5, I thought the team did a really good job. We condensed the lineup and gave the responsibility from about 12-and-a-half minutes down to shut the door so our last power play was there to be played responsibly."
The head coach said that it's games like last night which will help make this team better moving forward and ultimately mould the players into the championship team that is the ultimate goal for everyone.
"We need to learn to deal with situations like that so however we got to that score, we had a one-goal lead with that time period to go and I thought the team did a good job of managing that. The scoring chances were more from the outside, they didn't get inside. It was more the 30th to the 50th minute where we lost our defensive coverage in ways we just can't allow. We duplicated on some defensive decisions. We got a little complicated with the puck again and weren't quite as hard on the puck in the defensive zone but I thought the final stretch of 10 minutes was an important experience for this group, to be able to withstand the pressure of the best team in the National Hockey League in their own building with a lot of pride at stake.
"That final impression will strengthen us going forward."
DUBNYK FEELING GOOD
Devan Dubnyk talked to Tom Gazzola following a practice which he participated in and said that he felt ready to go.
"I felt pretty good," he said. "It's definitely sore today but it didn't get worse (overnight) and it's better. Yesterday was more of a pinch and a sharp pain and today is more soreness in general."
The netminder talked more about the play which saw him get injured midway through the game.
"It was a little scary at first. Obviously, just trying to stop Hossa you put yourself in a vulnerable spot. Then I think Harty ran into me and just right away from the top of my head to the back of my neck it felt like it was on fire. Then I couldn't feel the back of my head for about half an hour. I've never had anything like that before. I'm sure these guys get hit and feel that every day but it was a little weird and it went away but the biggest thing was I couldn't really look over my right shoulder without it grabbing pretty hard which is why I wasn't able to come back into the game."
Krueger added that he feels that Dubnyk will be able to start tomorrow night's game against the Avalanche.
"We're very optimistic about his development here. Once again, it was a decision within the game to be careful and not to push a player into an area where it could be a long-term injury. We're pleased we did that. We got the win with that decision still and he feels good today," the head coach remarked. "He's developing in a positive way and we expect him to be able to go without any major problems tomorrow."
MORE LINEUP UPDATES
"We were quite pleased with the defensive core (on Sunday). We don't see a need for a change on the defence. We'll continue to work with Mark and ease him back here into the lineup when we get home. Looking at the six defencemen, we didn't see that as the issue. We thought there were some coverage issues but generally they worked hard as a group against a very very difficult and strong offence that Chicago has."
Corey Potter had a strong game with six hits and a +2 rating in 20:50 of ice time. The amount of ice time was a season high for him.
"It was definitely a step in the right direction for us," said Potter. "We had a couple meetings the previous days and we haven't been playing our best hockey so it was nice to actually go out and accomplish what we were talking about instead of just talking about it."
Potter was the freshest defenceman on the team having not played on Friday night in Nashville.
"I felt pretty good," Potter continued. "It's been kind of tough coming in and out of the lineup but it's a positive thing for our team to have guys that can sit out and come in with fresh legs and add some energy."
Coach Krueger did say that there could be some changes up front come Tuesday night.
"Up front we have more options. We're going to sleep on that," he said. "We had some discussions today and we've got a fresh Ryan Jones, fresh Ben Eager. We've got to decide which way we go with that tomorrow."
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com with files from Tom Gazzola