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The Team Today: Bru is back?

by Jen Sharpe / Edmonton Oilers


After enjoying a full day off Saturday and lighthearted team Skills Competition Sunday, the Oilers got back to work Monday morning with a 90-minute practice at Rexall Place.

With Mike Comrie's practice presence no longer newsworthy, Gilbert Brule assumed the role as the newest player to return from illness by skating with the team. Both players have yet to dress for a game, but Head Coach Pat Quinn said that Brule may be good to go Tuesday night vs. Chicago.

"We're going to give him another little look in the morning," Quinn said. "We did a little conditioning skate with him to see where he was after the time off and he seemed to have not lost a great deal so there's a chance he'll come in tomorrow."

Brule said he's feeling better and felt good out on the ice.

"I've been working really hard in the gym with Simon (Bennett, Oilers Strength and Conditioning Coach), and I've just been feeling really good. . . . I'll skate again tomorrow and see if I'm ready to go."

"I had some stomach problems, and I just also wasn’t feeling too well,” he added. "I think I needed the time off just to get my head straight, just get back to being positive and being confident in myself which I think I got away from."

Brule has missed nine games due to the flu this season, including three in October and club's past six contests. The games lost don't tell the full story, however: Brule's fallen ill on four seperate occasions, prompting questions about whether it's just the flu or a bigger health problem.

"That's what our medical staff keeps saying to us, that's he's responded to some of these bugs going around poorly this year," Quinn explained. "But he seems strong now, and he seems positive. He got quite down when he was missing those games. He didn't feel healthy, and yet we couldn't nail it like we did with Comrie."

Comrie was diagnosed with mononeucleosis in mid-November and has missed 30 games. The Edmonton native has been practicing with the team for nearly a week, but when asked if he'll play Tuesday, Quinn said no.

"I don't think so. We'll continue to practice and train him."


The good news about Brule was clouded by Edmonton's spot in the standings Monday. With a 5-1 win over the Bruins Sunday night, the Carolina Hurricanes moved ahead of the Oilers in the NHL standings, leaving the Oilers at the bottom of the heap.

When asked about the club's current situation, Dustin Penner said that his focus is on a playoff spot and the standings below that aren't relevant.

"I don't have a board by my bed that says 30th, 29th, 28th. It's 'out of the playoffs.' It doesn't matter where you finish after that."

Defenceman Denis Grebeshkov added that the team's recent play is frustrating but that there's no use getting caught up in the negatives.

"We can't win a single game for a while, but at the same time, you don't have to bury yourself," Grebeshkov said. "You still have to stay positive and look forward to the next game and get ready for tomorrow."


Later Monday afternoon, Oilers GM Steve Tambellini announced that the club has recalled defenceman Taylor Chorney from the AHL's Springfield Falcons. Chorney, 22, played vs. Dallas Friday night but was then reassigned to the Falcons, where he appeared in two games over the weekend.

Author: Jen Sharpe |


The Oilers started the day with a 10am practice. Gilbert Brule, Steve Staios, Sam Gagner & Ladislav Smid did not take part in the skate or the annual Skills Competition to follow. Gagner injured his knee in Friday night's game vs. Dallas, and there is no word on his status for Tuesday's game vs. Chicago.

On a positive note, Mike Comrie continued to practice with the team and made his first public on-ice appearance in over two months during the Skills Competition. After the event, Comrie said that he hopes to be back in the line-up soon.

"I've had a couple of hard skates with the team, I've been working out, so I think when I meet the doctors next hopefully they can see how I feel and clear me to play.

"I've felt pretty good in the last couple of practices," Comrie continued. "I've got to get in game shape, but I feel pretty good and that's all I can do is keep working hard and hopefully chip in when I get back."


While we are perhaps a week or two from seeing if Comrie will contribute on game day, he fully participated in the Skills Competition after practice.

Comrie, his teammates, and their very vocal fans enjoyed a break from the club's current struggles during the two-hour long, fun-filled event. Highlights included:


After the Skills Competition, the Oilers returned to their normal practice routine by fielding questions from the media. Sheldon Souray and his trade rumours occupied the hot seat.

"I'm not going to tie anyone's hands with (my no trade clause) if something goes that way, but it's not really for me to worry about so I'm not worrying about it," Souray said about a potential move. "(The trade talk) has gained a little momentum, obviously, from the way the team is performing, but I come to the rink every day proud to be an Oiler and it hasn't changed the way I play. It won't.

"It's business. We're professionals and no matter what situation you're in, whether you're a first-year player, a five-year player or a 10-year play, you've got to come every day and be professional. So I'll continue to do that for sure."

Author: Jen Sharpe |

Andrew Cogliano and Dustin Penner watch the action from the visiting bench.



The Oilers held an optional morning skate Friday morning, with only about a dozen players taking to the ice.

One of those players was defenceman
Sheldon Souray, who did not practice Thursday. After the skate, Souray said that the team needs to build on Wednesday's positive performance vs Vancouver. The Oilers outshot the Canucks 33-29 held the lead for most of the game, but eventually lost 3-2 in overtime.

"I thought we deserved a better outcome but that's okay," Souray said. "We're going to keep on improving on what we're trying to build here and we feel good about ourselves after the effort we gave last game."

Aiming for the Stars

Dallas is also coming off a game vs. the Canucks -- a 4-3 regulation loss last night in Vancouver. During his morning press conference, Head Coach Pat Quinn said that the Oilers need to take advantage of their tired opponents and keep the pressure on through the full 60 minutes.

"We've had some strong starts against some teams that have been coming in off a game when they're tired, but what we haven't done is be able to sustain it," Quinn said. "It seemed like we were the ones that fell off in the third period for whatever reason."

In addition to a 60-minute effort, Associate Coach Tom Renney wants to see the Oilers disrupt Stars goalie Marty Turco.

"He's a heck of a competitor, a great guy, and he's going to want to really make sure that everybody in this league understands he's the number one goaltender," Renney said. "So we certainly want to get to him, don't let him handle the puck, make life miserable for him."

Dallas is winless in 10 road games, a fact that isn't lost on Souray or the other Oilers, but the veteran defenceman emphasized that his club is in no position to take anyone lightly.

"I don't think we're worried about anyone else who's coming in here, or what their records are," Souray said. "We've had a pretty tough go obviously the last couple of months, so we're just going to worry about the way we're playing and the things we need to get the win here tonight."

Quinn was also realistic about tonight's battle.

"There's some reason to hope for this team, maybe not to suddenly have miracles that put us right back in the hunt, but certainly to get a better result than we've been getting at the end of the night," the coach said. "We'll hopefully be prepared to play against a team that certainly is a hard-working club but you know has got some holes in it as well."

Dubnyk & Chorney in, Staios & Smid out

One reason for hope for the Oilers may be goaltender Devan Dubnyk. Dubnyk will make his fourth start in the last five games tonight, and Quinn praised the 6'5" goalie's size, skills, and heart.

"[Oilers management] thought Dubnyk had a good future in front of him: size, athletic skill, the kind of thing that attracts people that believe if he learns more and more about this game he could be a real good player. They drafted what I think is a good athlete.

"One of the things goaltenders have to do is have that iron in their heart, because if they are this kind of a goaltender, generally their play is the same," Quinn continued. " I see good things in this young man, and he fights back if it's not going (his way)."

Dubnyk will be joined by former Springfield Falcons teammate
Taylor Chorney tonight. The young defenceman arrived in Edmonton early this afternoon and will fill the gap left by injuries to Steve Staios and Ladislav Smid.


It was an exciting game between two desperate clubs that went down to the wire. With a minute left on the clock and an open net behind him, Sam Gagner scored his second goal of the night to tie the Stars 3-3. The crowd went wild, but 40 seconds later Dallas' James Neal shut them up by lifting the game-winner over goalie Devan Dubnyk.

Robert Nilsson, and Dustin Penner led the Oilers with two points each, while Dubnyk finished with 28 saves. At the opposite end of the ice, Marty Turco made 35 saves for the Stars win.
Author: Jen Sharpe |
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