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THE TEAM TODAY: California Calling

by Marc Ciampa / Edmonton Oilers


Anaheim, CA - After arriving in California following the game on Friday night, with some team bonding on Saturday, the Edmonton Oilers got back to work on Sunday with a practice at the Anaheim Ducks' practice facility just north of the Honda Center in Anaheim.

Oilers head coach Tom Renney said that having a bit of time off was just what the team needed.

"It's really important," said Renney. "You can get into the doldrums if you're not careful and feel sorry for yourself and not do those things but you have to."

The head coach added that bonding is all part of the process of growing together as a team.

"The whole experience of a young team is to grow through all kinds of experiences. And when you have an opportunity to do that like we did yesterday, it's vital. We hope this sets the table for a real strong push down the stretch."

Renney did put the club through the paces of an up-tempo practice on the Sunday, hoping to ensure a top-notch performance against the Ducks Monday night.

"The big thing is, we've got to get to the rink and get to work. We wanted it to be quick and have good pace to it and get them on and off quick so they could concentrate on Anaheim tomorrow."

Taylor Hall did not skate after a tumble into the boards Friday caused some discomfort in his shoulder. He did not miss a shift and is still probably to play tomorrow night against the Ducks.

"Just a maintenance day," said Renney. "He's got an issue with a shoulder there as everybody knows. T.D. (head trainer T.D. Forss) decided we should keep him off to let it settle down, which is a good move. Hoping he's fine in the morning, we'll see what happens."

Renney did not rule out using seven defencemen -- potentially reinserting Theo Peckham -- instead of calling up a forward from Oklahoma City should Hall not be able to play.

"We've got to get Theo in. I've said that before and maybe it gets a little redundant. It's almost hypocritical that I haven't done that yet," said Renney. "But those are the dynamics of our team. It wouldn't be out of the question that we might dress seven D. I'll have a look at the clips tonight and watch their last couple of games, see what we might need and make a decision based on that."


Tomorrow marks Andy Sutton's first game back in Anaheim since being dealt in the off-season for Kurtis Foster -- oddly enough, Foster has been traded two more times since that deal. 

It was a difficult season for Sutton, getting into only 39 games after being a big free-agent acquisition for Anaheim the previous off-season. He had four assists and no goals and only got into one playoff game.

"It's like anything. It's got to be about the right fit and for whatever reason it didn't work out for me here but I don't have any ill feelings towards the team or anything like that. It was a tough year for me on and off the ice. I'm just thankful they were able to move me to Edmonton, where things have worked out better for me."

Sutton has three goals and 10 points in 41 games with the Oilers so far this year and is also leading the team with a +6 rating.


The lone meeting of the season between these two teams came in mid-December. The Ducks rolled into Rexall Place and spanked the Oilers by a score of 5-0.

Tomorrow night, the Oilers get a chance to redeem themselves for that loss and put a huge dent in Anaheim's playoff hopes.

"We've been playing better lately and I fully expect us to come out tomorrow night with a great effort," said Sutton.

"It's playing them hard, playing them tight, taking away time and space. Being physical on them. They don't shy away from that type of game but it takes away from the type of game you want to play when you're constantly being hit every time you touch the puck."

Ryan Smyth concurred with the big blueliner.

"We owe them, for sure we do. We've got to come out with a little bit of an edge," Smyth began. "They've got some firepower up front. Getzlaf, Perry and you can even throw Selanne in the mix there. They're very good and very talented. Guys that know how to put the puck in the net."

-- Marc Ciampa,


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