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THE TEAM TODAY: At the heart of it

by Jen Sharpe / Edmonton Oilers


Athough Rexall Place was absent of chocolate and flowers this Valentine's Day, the Oilers used the most romantic day of the year to mend a rocky relationship with the object of their affection: the win column.

Wooing the win column hasn't been easy for Edmonton this season. Although the Oilers had posted some strong performances over the past few weeks, Sunday night's 4-0 loss to Anaheim was a disappointing derailment.

"Up until the midpoint of the second period I thought we had lots of opportunity to score goals and even take the lead," head coach Tom Renney said after practice. "When they scored their second goal, I wondered where our team went. I don't know if that's mental toughness, if it's succumbing to the situation, the circumstances, and saying 'Oh well' and that's certainly what we have to avoid, if that were the case."


In anticipation of Tuesday's game vs. Dallas, General Manager Steve Tambellini held a closed-door meeting with the players prior to practice.

"There was a lot of people involved, a lot of comments going on," captain Shawn Horcoff later explained. "We've had a few of these talks this year at certain times and responded well to that so I think the challenge has been put forth.

"It's a pretty common theme that everyone's not really happy with the effort that was put forth out there, especially at home. We had a good talk about it today but we'll see how guys respond to it tomorrow. I expect it to be back to the way we know we can play, high energy and high intensity."

Renney did not attend the meeting but was confident the message was well-received.

"In terms of what [Tambellini] views from up top there and the circumstances that he sees around every team in the NHL right now, with the date and what looms on the horizon, I think it was important for Steve to come in and deliver a message, and it was a very good one," Renney said. "We're all trying to go in the same direction here and it doesn't hurt to change the voice once in a while."

Reiterating a familiar message, the coach added that positivity, development, and evolution continue to be Oilers priorities.

"We're not here to tweak this culture, we're here to change it. And it's painful. I've said it before: it's like putting a cast on an arm that's broken. You just can't do what you want to do and it's not a lot of fun, there's no latitude, but you've got to fix the break and our team's been broken. This year we're working on that and I think we've got a lot of really good things in place in terms of how we want to play, who we want to play with, the type of game that works best for us," he said.

"We have to dwell on the good things that we've done and really work hard to rectify those areas that present concern to us."

On the ice, Renney ensured practice was productive and fast-paced, something players want to carry into Tuesday's game.

"We had a hard, competitive practice, uptempo. I think that's what our game needs to be like from now out," Andrew Cogliano said. "Last night, we felt like our energy, our compete level, our battle level was non-existent for a lot of parts of the game, and I think today was a good step in getting ready and upping that for tomorrow."


Taylor Chorney

The Oilers will have a slightly different look to their blueline vs. the Stars: late Monday morning, defenceman Taylor Chorney was recalled from the Oklahoma City Barons. In return, Jeff Petry was sent back down.

"[It's just to] give him a chance to get confident again -- I don't think we've seen the last of Jeff this year at all," Renney explained. "Chorns is playing very, very well down there, so it's just a quick little exchange and we'll see how long it lasts, but my guess is that Petey will be back up here."



You can watch Chorney & the rest of the Oilers battle for two points live from Rexall Place on Tuesday, Feb. 15. The game vs. the Stars starts at 7:00pm and limited tickets are available.



Andrew Cogliano

In the latest edition of our fan question series, Amanda L. of Edmonton submitted a question for Andrew Cogliano.

AMANDA: "What is your best pump-up song, and what is the most emabarassing song that you listen to?"

ANDREW: "I like Eminem stuff. I really like his whole new CD. He's pretty good and a lot of the guys in here like to listen to him before a game to get pumped up, so I'll go with that.

I'm not really embarrassed about any of the songs I listen to. Everyone's got different tastes, but I generally listen to the same kind of music."

Fill out the form on the right to submit a question for one of the Oilers. We will ask one of the submitted questions after the next practice and will post the answer in the next Team Today.

Author: Jen Sharpe |, with files from Ryan Dittrick



In a game the Oilers would like to forget, the Ducks started with an early goal, added three more, and leaned on perfect goaltending from Jonas Hiller to earn a 4-0 victory Sunday night at Rexall Place.


The Ducks struck early. Only 34 seconds into the contest, Teemu Selanne beat Devan Dubnyk with a deflection to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.

Two minutes later, the Oilers got the chance to even it up on the game's first power-play, but the club couldn't get the puck on -- or past -- Hiller.

Near the 12-minute mark, the Ducks experienced the other side of the man-advantage when Jeff Petry was called for holding. Like their opponent, the visitors were held shotless through the power-play.

A third first-period penalty, this time to Anaheim's Andrea Lilja, gave Edmonton a period-closing man-advantage. The club couldn't beat Hiller before the buzzer but carried 42 seconds of power-play into the second period.


The Oilers got within one shot of the Ducks on the remainder of the power-play but continued to trail 1-0. At 7:40, the team registered some shots of a different kind when Steve MacIntyre dropped his gloves vs George Parros. The pair sat out five minutes for fighting before returning to action.

After battling back and forth with the Ducks for nearly 10 minutes, the Oilers lost some ground late in the frame. First, Brandon McMillan expertly fooled Dubnyk by tipping a shot from Dan Sexton; 1:14 later, Bobby Ryan wristed home Anaheim's third goal.

The 3-0 score stuck until the end of the period, with the Oilers also trailing 14-9 on the shot clock.


The Ducks wasted no time increasing their lead by another goal early in the third. At 1:31, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf got the puck to Bobby Ryan out front, who made it 4-0 with his second straight marker.

The goal prompted a change in Oilers netminders, and Nikolai Khabibulin settled in between the pipes.

Edmonton's frustration resulted in more fisticuffs six minutes in. At the Oilers blue line, Theo Peckham hit Jason Blake and then took on the towering Andy Sutton. Sutton used his long limbs to keep Peckham at bay before the duo tumbled to the ice.

31 seconds later, Ladislav Smid and Luca Sbisa grappled in the Ducks zone, eventually joining their fellow fighters in the penalty boxes.

Three consecutive infractions kept the Oil from making a run at the Ducks as the period progressed. When the final buzzer sounded, Edmonton had tallied only 12 shots, each of which was turned away by Hiller, and resulting in a 4-0 loss.

Author: Jen Sharpe |



The Edmonton Oilers practiced out at Millennium Place in Sherwood Park on Friday in preparation for Saturday's noon clash with the Ottawa Senators.

"The most important thing for us is to have a better start than they do for a noon game. For all these players, it's a challenge and we want to be the better starting team," opened Associate Coach Ralph Krueger.

"We want to be a great team at the beginning of the game, we want to feel the energy that we had at the end of the last game. The other thing will be to clean up our defensive zone which was disorganized in phases in the Chicago game."

The Senators have lost their last five games in regulation, are winless in 11 and have only one win total in their last 18. They're a team that's been decimated by injuries, including captain Daniel Alfredsson and starting goaltender Pascal Leclaire among others. Mike Fisher was also dealt to Nashville in exchange for picks but as the Oilers' Jordan Eberle notes, that's not a reason to take this team lightly.

"We're struggling too as far as getting wins. It's a game where we're both ready to go and excited to play, I think," said Eberle. 

Oilers captain Shawn Horcoff is likely to be out tomorrow as he missed practice for the second straight day. Horcoff is battling bronchitis along with flu-like symptoms which have come with it.

"He's definitely a question mark. Being out again today with a little bit of a flu and bronchitis, we'll see how it goes," said Krueger, who also added that Horcoff does not have a fever. "It's the kind of thing where he's very questionable for tomorrow."

As for who may replace Horcoff in the lineup, that could be J-F Jacques who skated on the fourth line with Ryan Jones and Colin Fraser today.

"That's definitely the tendency. We would go that way," Krueger continued. "Jocko has been skating well here and just looking at Ottawa and the type of team they have we would look to go that way."

As for who may replace Horcoff on the top line, that's yet to be determined but Liam Reddox did skate between Hemsky and Penner on Friday.


The prospect of a rare afternoon home game for the Oilers - and an even more rare noon start - didn't seem to phase any members of the team when chatting about it on Friday. Krueger even went further as to embrace the situation.

"Quite honestly, it could be refreshing," said Krueger. "When you look at our situation here, it could be very refreshing for us to have an early game like this because you wake up and - boom - there's a game right away. There's not a long process to go into it. Under the circumstances, it could be a good break from the routine. Whereas routine is a comfortable thing at times, especially when things are rolling well or you're winning a lot but in our situation right now it could be just the right call."

The Oilers previously had a noon start at home back in February 2009 against the Nashville Predators. They lost that game 2-1 on a Super Bowl Sunday.

"You might as well turn the clock forward six or seven hours and just treat it that way. Two back-to-back early games, it doesn't change a ton," said Ryan Jones, also referencing Sunday's 6:00 p.m. start against Anaheim. "Might be spaghetti for breakfast, that's going to suck a little bit but other than that, we just have to do what we do."

It's the first noon start in Eberle's hockey career.

"I'm usually routine but I've never played at 12 so it'll be a little bit different. I've always been a guy who's been okay in the morning too in terms of getting up so I think it'll be an alright situation."


Despite being nicked up a little, Oilers netminder Nikolai Khabibulin appears poised to make the start in goal for Edmonton on Saturday.

Khabibulin has lost his last 13 starts in regulation. He has been trying to find a solution for his problems with no victory since a December 16 win over Columbus.

"Maybe overreacting a little bit or not letting the game come to me but I just have to battle through and hopefully tomorrow will be the day," he said on Friday.

"You want to help the team do anything you can to win the game. It's no different with any goalie, myself included. Tomorrow I'm going to start and I'm going to try and do that."

Looking back on his career, Khabibulin could not think of another situation where he has fallen into this much of a rough patch.

"It's definitely not easy. I've had some tough stretches in the past but this seems to be the longest one."

Ralph Krueger noted that the team is pulling for him to get the W but Khabibulin's 0-13 run is not top-of-mind for the players.

"Whenever he does come in, the team wants that to happen. He's the one thinking about it more than anybody here. I don't think the rest of the group is really that conscious of it," he said.

"I think Khabby has been more vocal about that. I think that we definitely want to get that (win) for him if he does start."


Dustin Penner scored twice, but a myriad of penalties and unsuccessful power-play attempts quelled the desired result, as the Oilers dropped a 5-3 decision to the Senators on Hockey Day in Canada. Andrew Cogliano registered Edmonton's other tally, while Ottawa completed the afternoon with a 25-18 edge in shots.

Author: Marc Ciampa | & Ryan Dittrick |

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