Garden City, NY --
Following Thursday night's game in Minnesota, the Oilers immediately boarded a plane for New York in order to get ready for Saturday's matinee clash with the Islanders. The team arrived close to 3:00 a.m. and after a quiet morning, practiced at the Nassau Coliseum at 2:30 in the afternoon.
stepped on the ice for the Oilers, though he did not make it until the end of practice, effectively ruling him out for Saturday's game.
and Ales Hemsky
both weren't skating, both plagued by sinus infections. They both missed practice to see the doctor.
"He's got the sinus issue and we had him see someone locally to make sure everything is okay and the results came back good," Renney said of Hemsky.
The head coach wouldn't tip his hand on who may start in goal, though after a strong third period on Thursday, the smart money among local media was on Devan Dubnyk
Making his return to the lineup for the Oilers tomorrow after an eight-game Brendan-Shanahan-imposed absence is defenceman Andy Sutton
"I'm really excited to get back. It seemed like an eternity I was out. We've got a lot of energy in this room which helps carry you through. I'd like to pick up where I left off," Sutton stated.
The 6'6" 245 lb blueliner was asked if he would consider changing his style of play after effectively now having had to sit out 13 games due to suspensions this season.
"I play very instinctually. My style of play is such that I have to be on my toes and play physically. I need to make more hits with my back and my butt than with my shoulders and elbows. Seems to be the only way you can not get suspended anymore," he said.
Renney pointed out that the key to Sutton's game tomorrow was in simplicity.
"Keep the game simple. As with most players, you're at your best when you do the little fundamental things well and Andy's certainly capable of that," he began.
"He does bring leadership, no question. He brings a sense of poise and a collective look of the game, too, from his point of view. He happens to say the right things to keep the team focused and on-task."
Tomorrow also marks a homecoming of sorts for Sutton, who played parts of three seasons with the Islanders.
"It was kind of similar to what we've got going on here. We had a lot of great young talent and a very old building," Sutton said of his time on the Island. "We were in a building phase when I was there -- and I think they're still working through some kinks -- but I really enjoyed my time here."
He went on to add that he's also really enjoyed his time with the Oilers, working with the youth movement.
"Personally, I love it. I get a lot of energy from the guys. It's great helping out where I can and watching this guys blossom into great, mature players."
Another player making his return to the Island is Ryan Smyth
, who was traded here by the Oilers in 2007. Smyth played with the Isles down the stretch, helping them making the playoffs and eventually lose out in the opening round to the Ottawa Senators.
"I had a great experience. It was a blur at the start, being traded from my favourite team of all-time but the guys made it fun. We enjoyed ourselves, there was a lot of history here. We made the playoffs and it came down to the last game (lost in game 7) so it was a lot of fun," said Smyth.
The veteran winger went on to point out the similarities between the two blue-and-orange squads.
"There's some great players that have come through this organization as well as Edmonton. The history that the two teams battled over the years was quite something. To be part of both organizations is special."
FOUR ON THE FLOOR
Another big topic of discussion, coming on the heels of the extended four-on-four play in Minnesota Thursday night, was coach Renney's use of skaters in that situation.
There was some question as to why the team's top two scorers -- Jordan Eberle
and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
-- saw such limited time when the team's had four aside.
"There are two ends of the rink," Renney stated, matter-of-factly. "I want to go there with them, I'm just not quite comfortable in my own mind, yet. Attacking, yes, But there is a counter-attack to that. As much as it sound strange. part of the learning curve for them is to watch this unfold -- the four-on-four, that is. There was some difficulty with that in San Jose."
Back on December 17, the Sharks scored the tying goal during a four-on-four situation in a game that the eventually won 3-2. Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle were on the ice at the time.
Renney then asked if his apprehension to use the duo would extend to an overtime situation.
"I suppose that's a possibility. It's not that I don't have faith in them. Under the circumstances, I went with experience last night. And that didn't pay off, either."
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com
NHL.COM GAME PREVIEW
LAST 10: Edmonton 2-8-0; New York 3-6-1
Season Series: As was the case last season, the Isles and Oilers are meeting just once this season. Edmonton won 2-1 at home on Jan. 6 in the only meeting of 2010-11. The Oilers have lost their last five visits to the Nassau Coliseum.
Big Story: In the early 1980s, this would have been one of the best matchups of the season. Instead, it's simply a meeting of rebuilding teams -- though both have some premium young talent.
Oilers: Edmonton grabbed a fast 1-0 lead Thursday night in Minnesota when Taylor Hall scored less than two minutes into the game. But the Wild scored the next three goals, forcing the Oilers to spend the rest of the night playing catch-up. They got within one goal twice but came up short in a 4-3 loss, their fifth in six games and second in as many games on their seven-game road trip.
"We have to make sure we keep playing this kind of hockey, and if we do we're going to be fine," said captain Shawn Horcoff, who scored early in the final period to pull the Oilers within 4-3.
Islanders: John Tavares showed why the Islanders chose him with the first pick in the 2009 NHL Draft with a highlight-reel, go-ahead goal in Thursday's 3-1 win against Calgary. Tavares raced down the right side, made a spectacular move to get around Chris Butler and went backhand-to-forehand to beat Miikka Kiprusoff early in the third period, giving the Isles a 2-1 lead in a game they won 3-1.
"When your best player is your best player in a game, you've got a good chance to win. And '91' was real strong tonight," coach Jack Capuano said of Tavares, who also assisted on Andrew MacDonald's tying goal in the second period. "He hasn't been scoring as much of late, but the chances are there, and he buried one tonight."
Who's Hot: He doesn't get the attention of No. 1 overall picks Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, but Jordan Eberle leads the Oilers with 38 points, including eight (five goals, three assists) in the Oilers' last six games. … PA Parenteau had two assists in the win against Calgary and has six points in five games. He leads the Isles with 30 points.
Injury Report: The Oilers are still without top defenseman Ryan Whitney, who's still sidelined with an ankle injury but may return before the trip ends. Defenseman Cam Barker is still recovering from ankle surgery, and rookie d-man Alex Plante suffered a concussion in Vancouver on Monday. … The Isles are also hurting. Goalie Al Montoya (concussion) has yet to skate since his injury last week. Rick DiPietro (groin) says he's feeling better while forward Micheal Haley is out with a hand injury. Defenseman Steve Staios (concussion) is still out, as is forward Jay Pandolfo.
Stat Pack: Edmonton is third in the NHL on the power play at 20.7 percent. But the Oilers are just 11-fot-67 (16.4 percent) on the road. … The Islanders have allowed a League-leading 10 empty-net goals. … New York has allowed opponents just 10 power plays in its last six games.
Puck Drop: Before the game, the Isles will induct Ken Morrow into their Hall of Fame. Morrow joined the Isles after helping Team USA win Olympic gold in 1980 and was a key member of all four Stanley Cup-winning teams on Long Island. Morrow, a stay-at-home defenseman, actually outscored Wayne Gretzky two goals to one in the 1983 Final when the Isles swept the Oilers for their fourth consecutive Cup. He retired in 1989 due to knee problems and is the team's Director of Pro Scouting.
"It kind of snowballed after winning the first one and then you are just kind of along for the ride," he told the team's website of winning four straight Cups. "We had such a good and such a dominant team at that time. … You came to the rink every day knowing that you have a real good chance to win a game, and that's what it's all about."
-- John Kreiser, NHL.com