THE TEAM TODAY: Canucks Prep
Head Coach Ralph Kreuger looks ahead to tomorrow's Northwest Division match-up against the Canucks, Joey Moss joins the team for a skate & more
CANUCKS PREPEDMONTON - On the heels of a 6-4 come-from-behind win against the Columbus Blue Jackets Thursday night, the Edmonton Oilers had no time to rest as they were back on the ice at Rexall Place today in preparation of Saturday night's game against the Canucks.
"The dynamics around, first of all, re-entering our division, and secondly going up against the best team over the last years in the division, Vancouver, has a whole different complexity to it," said Oilers head coach Ralph Krueger when asked to compare opponents between Vancouver and Columbus.
"The respect for Vancouver is so large in our troops. We've played well against them this year and we feel confident going into the game but very respectful."
Krueger added that he doesn't expect to see the same type off offensive display that occurred in the 10-goal outburst and preached that the team needs to be better offensively.
"What happened against Columbus was a great show of offence and an extremely aggressive attack on the rush. And a lack of defence. We gave up too much and left the principles we need to stick to to play good defence. But those automatically come back when you have somebody like Vancouver in the building. Not too worried about that."
The Canucks have won six games in a row heading into tomorrow's contest and regained top spot in the Northwest Division by virtue of their solid play.
"Vancouver has been playing excellent of late," Krueger added. "They've been leading in almost every game I've looked at in the last few weeks and seem to be managing those leads very well. They look like the team of the past few years so we know we have our hands full but everybody feels good about this challenge."
One player who really made an impression last night was Mike Brown, who was named third star and ignited the team with a fight against Jared Boll.
"It's a veteran presence that we need to have in other roles on the team. Whether it's our offence, our defence, understanding what is needed and when. Mike is a great example in his role here, for a player who seems to feel that. That's experience. That's veteran presence in your lineup. He understands the need of a big hit. He understands the need of bringing a fight into our environment to bring up the emotions."
Krueger has rewarded Brown, often with games approaching or over 10 minutes of ice time.
"He does things right. He does them simple and without distracting the team or taking away from hockey. He can still play his game into those situations and back out of them immediately."
Brown talked further about last night's battle with Boll.
"For me, it was more of an energy scrap," he said. "We were down 2-0 and started getting momentum. We put two goals in and I was just running around trying to create some energy with physical play and all that. He came and lined up with me after we tied it up."
SPECIAL GUEST AT PRACTICE
At the end of practice, Oilers dressing room attendant Joey Moss came out on the ice to skate with the team briefly. Captain Shawn Horcoff talked about skating with Joey.
"He can skate well," Horcoff said. "When Joey gets something in his mind and his feet hurt, he'll just pack it right in but he's actually pretty good. He's got a good little set of hands on him. A lot of the guys hadn't seen that before so we wanted to get him out there."
Horcoff added that Moss has skated with the team before in the past.
"He used to skate at all the Christmas skates but in practice, me and Smytty are probably the only ones -- maybe Hemmer, too -- who have been around here long enough to remember him coming out after practice every now and then."
It had been awhile since the last time Joey -- a right-handed shot, by the way, did lace them up.
"Joey said it's been 10 years since he skated and it showed today," Horcoff chuckled.
Watch Joey Moss on the Ice
Eric Belanger and Nick Schultz did not skate today. Krueger said Belanger might be out longer than the minimum week that he has to miss because he's on injured reserve. He added that Schultz missing the skate was just a maintenance day.
"Completely maintenance on him," he said. "All is fine. LIke we've been doing all year, if there's even the smallest question mark out of our medical room we prefer to have the player rest."
After practice, Coach Krueger talked about the team's open roster spot and thoughts on whether he would call someone up from Oklahoma City in the near future.
"We just like the feel of the 12 forwards right now. I think, looking at them all feeling quite healthy, we should let Oklahoma City play their games today and tomorrow."
The Barons have key games in Peoria and Rockford this weekend as they sit one point out of a playoff spot in the AHL's Western Conference.
"We will likely call someone up after the Vancouver game in some position but Ryan Smyth has done an outstanding job there. We feel good with what we have. We need to be prepared, could anything happen and we need help. Whether it's a centreman or a winger we haven't made that final decision yet but we will."
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com with files from Bob Stauffer