Following Wednesday's come-from-behind win over the New York Islanders, the Oilers broke up into two groups and took turns on the ice at Millenium Place in Sherwood Park to brush up on their systems before taking on the Florida Panthers on Friday.
As the first group was on the ice, Oilers staff confirmed that Nikolai Khabibulin will play in Friday's game. The game will mark his first appearance in an Oilers uniform since being acquired on July 1, 2009.
"I kinda wanted a few days to practice with the team to feel a little bit better," he said after practice. "You still have to look at the big picture, and the big picture is to get ready for the season and have a good start then, but at the same time everytime I step on the ice, I expect to have a good game and win. And tomorrow's not going to be any different."
LUBO LOOKS FORWARD TO WEEKEND
After wrapping up practice, Lubomir Visnovsky confirmed that he will play in at least one of this weekend's pre-season games. Visvnosky, who suffered a season-ending in early February, said "I feel good, I'm ready for contact, I'm ready for NHL."
"I'm very excited to play that first shift," Visnovsky said to the media. "I don't play tomorrow night -- maybe [Saturday] or Sunday."
TEAM TRIMS 13
The Oilers trimmed their Training Camp roster by 13 players this morning, bringing the total number of players down to 48. Among players assigned were Philippe Cornet, Jamie Bates, and Jordan Bendfeld.
The Oilers took the ice this morning to show us a little glimpse of what to expect for tomorrow night's lineup. The first group of 20 players took the ice for practice at 9:00 am. They skated for one hour working on their powerplay and several tough drills in preparation of tonights game in Calgary.
The second fleet of players began their practice shortly after the first group. After twenty minutes of practice the first group rejoined them for a hard hour of scrimmage.
The first line was formed by Gagner, Hemsky and Nilsson followed by Penner, Cogliano and Eberle. These top two lines were explosive and appeared very confident with each other. The third line saw Pisani, Reddox and Cornet playing together while Pouliot, Brule and MacIntyre formed the fourth line.
OILERS PLAY FLAMES TONIGHT IN CALGARY
The Oilers play their first pre-season game tonight at the Pengrowth Saddledome against the Calgary Flames. The game will be streamed live on edmontonoilers.com beginning at 7:00 p.m. MDT.
Tonight’s game is the first of five games in six nights for the Oilers, who will also play host to the New York Islanders on Wednesday, September 16; entertain the Florida Panthers on Friday, September 18; visit Vancouver for a game against the Canucks on Saturday, September 19 and travel to Saskatoon for a neutral site game with the Islanders on Sunday, September 20.
Edmonton will play five different opponents during the 2009-10 pre-season. Four of the Oilers eight pre-season games feature Western Conference opponents with all four games against Northwest Division rivals Calgary and Vancouver. The remaining four games are against Eastern Conference teams.
Edmonton opens its 31st NHL season on Saturday, October 3rd when they host the Calgary Flames at Rexall Place.
EDMONTON VS CALGARY
Tonight’s game is the 52nd pre-season game between the Oilers and Flames, with the Flames leading the series 22-23-5-1 (.510) and outscoring Edmonton 179-171. Edmonton is 11-10-3 at home, 11-12-2-1 on the road, 0-1-0 on neutral ice and 3-2-5 in overtime.
The Oilers and Flames met six times during the 2008-09 regular season, with Edmonton compiling a 3-2-0-1 record and outscored Calgary 19-18. Edmonton was 2-0-0-1 in three games at Rexall Place and 1-2-0-0 at Calgary.
The teams will meet six times (3 home, 3 road) in 2009-10 as the Oilers host the Flames on Oct. 3/09, Oct. 8/09 and Dec. 28/09. Edmonton visits Calgary on Oct. 24/09, Dec. 31/09 and Jan. 30/09.
ALL-TIME PRE-SEASON RECORD
The Oilers have an all-time pre-season record of 132-103-29-4 (.554) in 268 games, outscoring their opposition 1027-934. Versus NHL opponents the Oilers are 124-102-27-4 (.543) in 257 games, outscoring opponents 962-900.
Edmonton was 2-2-0-3 (.500) in seven pre-season games in 2008-09, and were outscored by opponents 21-15. The Oilers were 1-1-0-2 at home, 1-1-0-1 on the road, and 1-3-0 in overtime.
OILERS PLAYERS TO WATCH: Rob Schremp is off to a great start in camp. He scored three shootout goals in a row following yesterday's scrimmage. He also had a nice setup and a nice goal on Sunday as well. He gets a chance on the top line with Shawn Horcoff... Mike Comrie makes his much-anticipated return to the Oilers this evening. He will be skating with Patrick O'Sullivan and Ryan Stone... Tough guy Kip Brennan could be looking to prove himself in the Battle of Alberta. The bruiser had 88 penalty minutes in 22 games last year with Hershey of the AHL.
Calgary will be dressing the following roster:
8 Staffan Kronwall 50 Brett Palin 7 Adam Pardy 56 Matt Pelech 61 John Negrin Forwards
16 Dustin Boyd 62 Kris Chucko 53 Cam Cunning 15 Nigel Dawes 47 Kyle Greentree 38 Jason Jaffray 45 Jamie Lundmark 25 David Moss 41 Garth Murray 23 Eric Nystrom 33 Brandon Prust 32 Colin Stuart Goaltenders
35 Leland Irving 36 Matt Keetley
FLAMES PLAYERS TO WATCH: Tonight will be the first opportunity for Nigel Dawes in a Flames uniform. He had 10 goals in 52 games with the New York Rangers then added a pair of assists in 12 games with the Phoenix Coyotes... Jamie Lundmark suits up tonight. He will go head-to-head with his former junior linemate Mike Comrie. The pair played together in 1997-98 when the St. Albert Saints won the Alberta Junior Hockey Championship.
The Oilers took to the ice for the second day Monday morning, with all players taking part in a practice and scrimmage at Rexall Place.
Following the first group practice session, Team Blue and Team White competed in an hour-long scrimmage. Starting in net for White was Devan Dubnyk, who turned away all shots, before being replaced by Curtis Mucha. At the opposite end of the ice, Nikolai Khabibulin let in an early penalty shot from Ryan MacMurchy to give Team White the first lead of the game.
At the midway point of the game, Olivier Roy replaced Khabibulin and allowed goals from Shawn Horcoff and Sheldon Souray before participating in the scrimmage-ending shootout.
Rob Schremp was the star of the shootout, burying three goals in a row. However Charles Linglet tallied the game-winner to give Team White the win. Miroslav Lazo and Ryan Potulny added two shootout goals each.
Next up was the second fleet of players. Andrew Perugini got the start in net for Team White while Bryan Pitton took net for Team Blue. Ryan O’Marra opened the scoring early in the scrimmage giving Team White the lead. Colin McDonald answered back for the Blue Team beating Perugini on a penalty shot. Taylor Chorney then gave the White Team another marker with a hard slap- shot from the top of the circle.
University of Alberta goaltender Aaron Sorochan stepped in at the halfway mark to replace Andrew Perugini for White, while Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers took over for Bryan Pitton for team Blue. Alex Plante was first to score on Aaron Sorochan on a nice feed from Gilbert Brule to knot the score at two. The game winner went to Team Blue after Aaron Sorochan spit out a nice rebound right onto the stick of Dustin Penner. The Blue team however were the winners in the shootout challenge with goals from Milan Kytnar, Marc Pouliot , Philippe Cornet and Kelly Czuy.
OILERS TO STREAM 7 PRE-SEASON GAMES
The Oilers first pre-season challenge comes tomorrow, September 15th at Pengrowth Saddledome where they will face division rivals, the Calgary Flames. You can watch that game LIVE right here at edmontonoilers.com.
The pre-season online streaming schedule is as follows:
Tuesday, September 15 at Calgary Wednesday, September 16 vs. NY Islanders Friday, September 18 vs. Florida Saturday, September 19 at Vancouver Sunday, September 20 vs. NY Islanders (at Saskatoon) Wednesday,September 23 vs. Calgary Sunday, September 27 vs. Vancouver - Jen Sharpe & Kristi Hennessy
New Oilers goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin has an interesting-looking mask as a member of the Oilers. In addition to his usual "Bulin Wall" design, he has Grant Fuhr masks on either side of the helmet in homage to the Oilers' hall-of-fame netminder.
"I've always tried to keep the design kind of the same. This is the retro, so I wanted to reflect a little bit on the history," he remarked.
On the subject of Khabibulin, Quinn remarked that he likely won't see much action early on. He said he'd like to see the netminder get some work in practice while he gets a better look at the young goaltenders competing for the number two spot.
"We're just going to take our time with him. I'm not going to play him early on," said Quinn. "We'll play the young guys and give them a good look."
LUBO STILL RECOVERING
Lubomir Visnovky skated with Sheldon Souray as a defence partner in his first Oilers-related activity since a shoulder injury on February 3 sidelined him for the season.
His recovery is coming along nicely but he's still likely a week or two away from game action.
"The doctor said I need one more week for rehab to play in the exhibition games," said Visnovsky following practice.
NILSSON IMPRESSES HEAD MAN
Oilers head coach Pat Quinn liked what he saw from Robert Nilsson today - a player who is among a number a forwards fighting for a spot in the team's opening-night roster.
"From what I see, he has tremendous talent. What happened to him last year might be less than what the expectation might be for that skill level," Quinn noted.
"He's in tight. We have more contracts than can play on our team right now. He's going to be challenged for position."
Nilsson is relishing the opportunity for competition in this year's camp.
"We've got 14 forwards on one-way contracts right now and they're all good forwards. We're all going to have to battle hard to make an impression on the coaches that you want to be here and play," Nilsson stated. "I hope everyone does well and we have a good year."
"I never watched him play and we're trying to pick the right guys now," Quinn continued. "He's a player of terrific skill who's going to have to find a way to play better.
QUINN SHAKES IT UP TOMORROW
The Oilers had three teams out there skating today, with specific line combinations (listed in yesterday's Daily Update). However, tomorrow things will change once again as he tries to get a feel for the lineup. The players will be split into two completely different teams.
Team A will be on the ice from 8:15 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. with a scrimmage beginning at 9:30 a.m. Team B will be on the ice from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. with a scrimmage to start at 11:45 a.m. The rosters for each team will be announced in the morning.
"What we were trying to do was get a little balance in the three groups. Tomorrow will be a different setup, we're going to do two groups then pull them together and do a bit of a scrimmage," said Quinn. "We have established our lineup for Calgary and the Islanders. We're still refining that."
There were no scrimmages today, only a number of technical drills and system work which was a departure from past Oilers camps.
"We have over 60 guys here. You need to set up the team to be efficient out there," said Quinn. "This particular year is set up in a tough way for our players. We have two days of practice then five games in six nights. It's not enough time to get their antennae working."
Goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin arrived in Edmonton yesterday and had his first official duties as an Oiler today with fitness testing.
Khabibulin comes from a team much like the Oilers in the Chicago Blackhawks. The 'Hawks are led by a number of young stars while the Oilers have a talented young core as well hoping for a breakthrough season.
"There's a lot of similarities here, I think," said the netminder. "This team has a little bit more of the veteran guys."
Khabibulin replaces Dwayne Roloson in goal this year. Roloson played outstanding last season and the goaltender was asked if he feels pressure as a result.
"I think there's always pressure on the goalies no matter where you go. When you play up in Canada it's a little bit more," he said. "At the same time, when you play up in Canada it's a lot of fun, too."
SOUR PATCH PENNER
When asked today about his off-ice training, Dustin Penner remarked what he missed the most with his strict off-season diet.
"Sour Patch Kids, that's a favourite of mine. If they're watching hopefully (I can get) a sponsorship deal," he joked.
The 6'4" winger noted that his program worked - he's coming to camp in the best shape of his NHL career.
COMRIE TAKES A NUMBER
When Mike Comrie arrived at Oilers training camp this morning, he found that his familiar number - 89 - was taken by new teammate Sam Gagner. In its place, Comrie is wearing number 91.
The number was assigned by the Oilers and Comrie could potentially change it at some point before the regular season begins. He has no interest in Gagner's 89 but did wear 39 in junior and college. That number is currently being worn by Chris Minard. QUINN SPEAKS
In his first official day as the team's head coach, Pat Quinn spoke to the Edmonton media.
"Without the masks and helmets they all look a little bit different. Almost like hockey school I'm going to ask them to put tape on their helmet (with their names on it)," Quinn chuckled when asked about his familiarity with the squad.
"We're going to practice with three groups here," he said. "With five games in six nights after only two days in practice we're going to keep a lot of bodies around because I really don't want to put those guys at serious risk."
"Maybe after the first Islanders game (September 16 at Rexall Place) we'll think about paring it down"
LINE COMBINATIONS AND SUNDAY, MONDAY ICE TIMES
All practices tomorrow and Monday will be open to the public so pay attention to this next section if you want to see your favourite Oiler on the ice tomorrow:
Team A will be skating on Sunday from 8:15 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. The line combos will be as follows: