by Marc Ciampa
The Oilers jump on the ice after winning round one
After wrapping up their best-of-seven Western Conference Quarter-Final series Monday night against Detroit, all the Oilers can do right now is sit and wait for their next opponent.
If Calgary wins tonight against Anaheim, the Oilers will open a round two Battle of Alberta. If the Ducks defeat the Flames, Edmonton will be travelling to San Jose.
After a much-deserved day off Tuesday, the team was back on the ice today for a brief session. The atmosphere around the dressing room was that of relaxation with a sense of accomplishment.
Theres still plenty of business to take care of starting with Game 1 of the Western Conference Semi-Final but the sentiment was that its nice to be able to enjoy some time to relax, mentally and physically.
"It would have been tough to go to Detroit and if we won there, fly all the way back," said centre Shawn Horcoff
. "At this time of the year, rest is valuable."
"I think the mental part of it's more than the physical," Dwayne Roloson concurred. "Today we got to go out and have some fun and just enjoy it."
Some of the talk then shifted to whom the team may prefer as a second-round opponent. The overwhelming majority predictably had no preference between San Jose and Calgary.
"You've got one of the best offensive players in the league in San Jose and probably one of the best goaltenders in the league in Calgary," said Horcoff. "They bring different things to the table but they're both great teams and going to be tough."
"It doesn't matter who we play. It matters what we do," noted Ryan Smyth
. "We had some confidence last series and we want to continue that this series, whoever it is."
Smyth did acknowledge that a potential Battle of Alberta match-up would have a decidedly different feel than a best-of-seven with San Jose.
"I guess I'd describe it as a bloodbath," he said.
Head coach Craig MacTavish agreed, mentioning "it compounds the importance of the series by a factor of 20."
Georges Laraque took it one step further mentioning that while he wont be cheering for Calgary tonight, he would love a series with their provincial rivals mainly because of the physical element the series would have.
"You have no idea," Laraque said when asked if he would rather face Calgary. "I'm praying for them to win.
"I just want to contribute and play and I know that a series with the Flames will give me a better chance."
When talking about the four or five days off the Oilers will have between Game 6 against Detroit and Game 1 of the second round, MacTavish said that was the perfect scenario.
"Today's a nice transition day in that respect and we'll be full-blown in preparation mode going into tomorrow. That gives us Thursday, Friday and the players will be looking to play a game by Saturday."
The Sharks wrapped up their series the day before Edmonton so if thats the second-round meeting, both teams will be well rested. After losing the opener, San Jose won four straight against Nashville and only allowed three even-strength goals through five games.
"Getting to play San Jose four times gives you a bit of a sense of what they do," said assistant coach Craig Simpson. "Seeing against Nashville the way they made adjustments throughout the series to both their system and special teams gives you a bit of a luxury."
MacTavish did note the difficulty in terms of preparation, having to wait another day to find out who the Oilers will be facing.
"The time that we had in preparation for the first round opponent, Detroit, was valuable. It's a little more difficult this time, not knowing who that opponent is. We're in the process of preparing for two teams right now."
Dwayne Roloson was sporting a new set of goalie pads during the skate this morning but don't look for him to wear them in a game anytime soon.
"I just had an opportunity to wear them. Ty's been wearing them the last three or four days for me," stated Roloson. "I hate breaking in new pads and he loves it."
He went on to mention that the pads don't feel quite right just yet and he won't be using them in game action anytime soon.
"You always want to have a backup in case anything happens to them."