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THE TEAM TODAY: Boys back in town

by Jen Sharpe / Edmonton Oilers


After a disappointing first road trip in which the Oilers dropped games in Minnesota and Calgary, the team rested Sunday and returned to Rexall Place for an off-ice workout Monday morning.

Edmonton had a successful start to the season with big wins over Calgary and Florida, but two losses since then have tempered optimism in Oil Country.

The Oilers are preaching patience and urging fans, media and players themselves to lay off the panic button.

"There are things now that we have to eliminate from our game, no question about that, but we have to stick with it, and that's probably the patience part is just keep hammering that through and make sure the guys understand that," Head Coach Tom Renney explained. "We can recognize parts of players' games, and our game in general, we just cannot have. I think that the Edmonton fan will remind us of that, if anybody does."

Growing pains are to be expected, he added.

"You want to minimize the pain, you want to grow quick, but you know you've got to go through it," Renney said. "I remind myself of that too. I have to make sure that I kind of keep myself in check. It's not productive to blow a gasket and go kind of cuckoo coaching this team out of these circumstances right now.

"There is a time, and it's coming, where the demands become greater, the attention to detail is pressed into them deeper than it is now. I'm looking forward to that, but certainly my cue will be them and the mental state of this team, and where the effort is."


From a player perspective, the weekend's results were disappointing but the games weren't without some positives.

"I felt like we were in both games, we had a chance to win both games, but obviously there's things we want to improve on as well," Sam Gagner said. "We feel like Khabi played great for us again, and we're relying on him a little too much. We've got to try and play in their end a little more, generate chances off the forecheck, get pucks in deep, and limit the turnovers.

"I feel like it's a work in progress and we've got to keep driving it in and keep getting better."

Ladislav Smid agrees.

"The Minnesota game wasn't our best, but I think we have to learn from our mistakes, what we did wrong," he added. "The Calgary loss, we were up by one after two periods and obviously it's a real disappointing loss for us, but those losses are going to help us in the long run."


Oilers vs. Wild coming up Thursday

The Oilers are hoping to apply those lessons learned in the rematch vs. the Wild Thursday, October 21 at Rexall Place. The puck drops at 7:30pm.



In the latest edition of our fan question series, Braden of Calgary submitted a question for Ladislav Smid.

BRADEN: "You have seen your role increase year by year and change on occasion. How do you prepare yourself today for the changes that have taken place?"

Ladislav Smid
LADISLAV: "I'm still learning a lot. Obviously I'm happy that I've got more ice time, but every game is a big learning opportunity for me. I'm just 24. I'm just trying to work my best and get better and better.

As for my preparation, I prepare the same for every game. It hasn't changed at all since I've been given more responsibility."

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 Tom Gazzola



The Oilers started game day with morning skate at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary. Although Shawn Horcoff and Colin Fraser missed Friday's practice to heal injuries suffered the previous game, the centermen were back on the ice Saturday.

"The extra day helped to get the swelling out of there and it feels good today," Horcoff said after the skate.

One notable change to the Oilers line-up is the re-addition of enforcer Steve MacIntyre. In the season-opening Battle of Alberta October 7, MacIntyre thrilled fans by knocking out Calgary's Raitis Ivanans in a fight. Oilers Head Coach Tom Renney added that he had not yet decided if Zack Stortini will also dress vs. the Flames.


After suffering their first loss of the season Thursday night vs. the Wild, the Oilers are looking to get back in the win column tonight. With only three goals in three games, the Flames have struggled out of the gate, but the Oilers aren't taking their provincial rivals lightly.

"They're a much better team than their record would suggest, and I know they believe that inside, and so they should," Renney said. "We have to man up. This is one of those games where we really have to perform well in every aspect of the game in order to have success."

"We know they're going to come out hard -- they always do -- and they'll be extra motivated tonight," captain Shawn Horcoff explained. "I think for us it's just going to be able to manage the first part of the game, not really try to give them any easy offence, and just a good, hard skate and an aggressive game."

One area in which the club will need to improve is penalty killing. The Oilers allowed four power-play goals vs. the Wild, a situation none of the players want to repeat.

"[The Wild] capitalized on our mistakes there, but first and foremost it starts by doing a better job of just staying out of the box," Horcoff continued. "We gave them too many power-plays at a time when we pretty much took the game over and we had them in a good spot there. We take a couple penalties and they score back-to-back, and that was pretty much the story."

Fraser agreed.

"It starts with staying out of the box, but at the same time, myself included, the killers have got to be better and we've got to kill those off," he said. "You can't give up four PK goals in a game and expect to win."


The Oilers always have a lot of fan support when they play in Calgary, but tonight's game will receive an extra jolt of copper and blue thanks to Taylor Hall. The first-overall pick grew up in Calgary and is looking forward to playing his first regular-season game in front of friends and family at the Saddledome.

"I've learned so far that every NHL game is a lot of fun and there's a lot of firsts for me here, but definitely coming back to my home town and the place where I grew up is a lot of fun," Hall said. "I have a lot of friends coming to the game and it's going to be nice to play. Hopefully we can get the win."


Following tonight's game, the Oilers will fly north to Edmonton and prepare for their next game, a rematch vs. Minnesota Thursday, October 21.



The Oilers kept an edge in everything but shots through most of this back-and-forth Battle of Alberta, but a three goal-push by the Flames in the final frame ensured a different outcome. A late go-ahead goal by Jarome Iginla, plus empty-netter by Alex Tanguay, sealed a 5-3 win for Calgary over Edmonton.

Rookie Magnus Paajarvi registered his first NHL goal and assist in the game, supplementing markers by Ales Hemsky and Dustin Penner. At the other end of the ice, Nikolai Khabibulin earned third-star honours for his 41-save effort in net.

Author: Jen Sharpe |, with files from Bob Stauffer



After Thursday's 4-2 loss in Minnesota and a late arrival in Alberta, the Oilers wasted no time returning to the ice for practice at Father David Bauer Arena in Calgary.

The 45-minute skate was attended by all players except Shawn Horcoff and Colin Fraser. The forwards had both blocked shots while penalty killing vs. the Wild and required a "maintenance" day, according to Head Coach Tom Renney.

"They're a little dinged up so we're just doing some maintenance on them today and give them a chance to recover from that a bit," he explained. "They'll be ready to go tomorrow morning."


The bumps and bruises to Horcoff and Fraser aren't surprising: the Oilers struggled on the penalty kill, allowing four goals on six opportunities.

"It's tough when you block a shot and you're hurting," Renney explained. "There's a domino effect beyond that, because then we get stretched out trying to too much, or more than we should naturally."

"We just have to come back to taking huge pride in our specialty teams in general. It would have been nice to see our power-play go two or three for seven, and it didn't. So at the end of the night, the opponent won the specialty teams game."


The Oilers are hoping for a better result Saturday night when they face the Flames in Calgary. Edmonton trounced Calgary 4-0 in the season-opener at Rexall Place, but the club has struggled in the two games since.

Although the players and staff are eager for a Battle of Alberta repeat, they know that patience and hard work are the keys to finding consistent success.

"We're got a young group of guys with a lot of enthusiasm," Jim Vandermeer said after practice. "We're just trying to get the team going in the right direction and get to know each other, how each guy plays, and come together as a team."

Rookie Magnus Paajarvi, who has been held pointless through three games, is confident his play will improve.

"I knew it's not going to be easy. It's just been three games and so far it's gone okay. I can do better for sure, but I think our line is getting better and better. We've just got to keep working and be more desperate and try to create something more and be better both offensively and defensively," he said.


Wild rematch coming up Thursday

Following Saturday night's game on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada, the Oilers will fly north to Edmonton and prepare for their net match-up. The Minnesota Wild are in town Thursday and the Oil will no doubt be seeking revenge for the loss at Xcel Energy Center.



In the latest edition of our fan question series, Kaylee Stigings of Innisfail, AB submitted a question for Kurtis Foster:

KAYLEE: "What was the first thing you thought of when you got signed in Edmonton? And what advice you would give to young defencman like me playing hockey?"

Kurtis Foster
KURTIS: "When I signed in Edmonton there was a lot of excitement because it was a team I watched growing up. I played in the States and had never played for a Canadian team, so there was just a lot of excitement about playing in front of the Canadian fans and being in a hockey town again.

As far as advice goes, the biggest thing and something I have to work on every day is that when you're playing defensively, you have to always have your stick on the ice, make sure it's always where their stick is. Try to play the body and try not to look at the puck. That's the biggest thing."

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 Bob Stauffer

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