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The Team Today: Daily Defence

by Jen Sharpe / Edmonton Oilers


The Oilers took to the Rexall Place ice shortly after noon Thursday, but a handful of players -- including three defencemen -- were absent.

Steve Staios continues to suffer from a combination of the flu and a hit to the head. He has not appeared on the ice since Saturday's matinee in San Jose and Head Coach Pat Quinn has no timeline for his return.

"I guess it will be day-to-day," the coach said after practice. "He was checked again this morning. He's still got some symptoms from beyond the sickness, it's still that slight whack that he took, so he still has a problem there."

The "day to day" assessment also applies to defenceman Ladislav Smid, who took a hit Wednesday vs. Vancouver, and forward Gilbert Brule, who is recovering from his fourth bout of the flu this season.

"Brule's been cleared to at least work out in the work-out room, so that's a step ahead," Quinn explained. "They're still continuing to do some testing on him."

Sheldon Souray also did not skate Thursday afternoon.


With Staios and Smid out indefinitely, the Oilers called up defenceman Taylor Chorney from the AHL's Springfield Falcons shortly after practice conclu
ded. Chorney, 22, played 13 games with the Oilers earlier this season, tallying his first NHL point, an assist, October 12 at Nashville.

In the middle of the team's lengthy road trip in November, Chorney injured his ankle and sat out 12 games. He returned to action in Springfield on December 11 and has since tallied two goals and two assists in 17 games.

Mike Comrie practiced with the Oilers again Thursday but has yet to make the step to the game-day line-up. Comrie's impending return should off-set the absence of Ryan Stone, who continues to feel the effects of knee surgery.

"I think his effectiveness had fallen off, dealing with trying to play with the pain he experienced post-surgery," Quinn said. "So it's been recommended that we yield some time to him. So he's potentially going on long term (injury reserve)."


In addition to the Chorney announcement, the Oilers also announced that they will honour Olympic gold medalist Adam van Koeverden prior to Friday's game vs. Dallas.

At the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece,
Van Koeverden became Canada’s first double medalist in years by winning a gold medal in the K1 500m and a bronze medal in the K1 1000m. Since then, he has dominated the World Cup circuit, winning the overall title each year from 2004 to 2007 and securing the 2007 World Championships in record time. Throughout his career, he has won 21 World Cup gold medals and is a 55-time Canadian Champion. Author: Jen Sharpe |


After Tuesday's vigorous practice, a handful of players were missing from Wednesday's pre-game skate, but a familiar face also made the return. For the first time since his mononucleosis diagnosis in mid-November, Mike Comrie joined the team for practice.

Comrie is not expected to play tonight vs. Vancouver, but his presence on the ice is a positive sign that his recuperation is nearing an end.

Moreau in, Staios out

Ethan Moreau missed Tuesday's skate due to an aggravated neck injury but will play in tonight's game.

"It's okay," he said about his neck. "I got a bad hit in Colorado and then went right on a plane so it was sore yesterday, but I had some good treatment on it and it felt pretty good this morning."

Steve Staios missed Monday's game in Denver due to the flu and mild concussion, and Head Coach Pat Quinn confirmed he will not play tonight.

Search for answers continues

With only one win in their last 16 games, the Oilers are a frustrated club that is deperately searching for ways to break the slump. Although Quinn admits he doesn't have the answers at his fingertips, he says the quest to play better as a team continues.

"We have shown that even when we do well in hockey games, we have a threshold of give-up, what's the use, frustration, whatever happens to this group that changes the balance of the game," the coach said after the morning skate. "Somehow we've got to get those mistakes out of the game, and that is the individual part. And we're working on it."

Moreau says that work-ethic is generally not the issue.

"With the exception of last game, you can't fault our work ethic or our preparation on many nights. We had a little bit of a bump in the road -- we didn't play well and we didn't execute and compete like we should. It's all about how you respond in this game, so we'll see how we do that individually and as a team tonight."

"I don't know what the window is as far as when this team starts to become a team," Quinn added. "I thought we'd be a better team. I still can't guarantee where we'd be, but we haven't reached that team spot at this point."

Oilers Favourite Things charity auction continues

The third round of the Oilers Favourite Things charity auction continues on the Rexall Place concourse at tonight's game.
Andrew Cogliano, Ladislav Smid & Steve Staios are in the spotlight tonight. CANUCKS 3 - OILERS 2 (OT)

After the Oilers scored the first goal of the game, the Canucks spent most of the remaining minutes playing catch-up, and with less than five minutes left in regulation, they got even. But early in sudden death, a tripping minor to Denis Grebeshov gave the visitors their fourth powerplay, and they capitalized for the third time to steal a 3-2 overtime win in Edmonton.

Sam Gagner and Sheldon Souray scored Edmonton's two goals, while rookie goalie Devan Dubnyk made 26 saves for second star honours.
Author: Jen Sharpe |


The players knew it wouldn't be pretty and the team's coaches didn't disappoint. After suffering an embarassing 6-0 loss in Denver Monday night, the Oilers took to the ice Tuesday at noon to complete a gruelling hour-long practice of which a healthy portion was dedicated to sprints, laps, and other bag-skate staples.

Call it what you want but we had to purge a tough performance in Colorado by doing something that maybe pushed the envelope from a fitness perspective and just cleaned the pipes," Associate Coach Tom Renney said after practice.

You're getting rid of it all with hard work and gutting it out and sweating and getting mad and all that kind of stuff, just purge yourself of whatever happened last night in Colorado and get on with the next team which is the Vancouver Canucks and that's what we're going to focus on."

Although the experience was clearly unpleasant for the players, they understood that it was required.

"We're not playing very well so you could expect it," Ladislav Smid said. "Hopefully it's going to make us stronger and we're going to start playing as a team and start winning some games."

Despite their extra gear, goalies Devan Dubnyk and Jeff Deslauriers fully participated in the skating drills and said the extra effort comes with the territory.

It was a tough one, definitely," Dubnyk admitted. "You just kind of grind through it. You need a little bit more extra time to get around the circles or do an extra lap is all . . . The forward crossovers are not my forte, but I just tried to get around the circles."

Smid said the skate was his second worst since his rookie season with the Oilers in 2006-07.

"I remember my first year in Chicago with MacT. It was a full-out bag skate without the pucks, so that was like four years ago. That was the worst. This would be in second place."


From a media perspective, the on-ice activities certainly looked like punishment, but Quinn said otherwise.

"That's not what you try to accomplish," Quinn said. "The message needs to be that, first of all, it's not acceptable what happened last night from us as a team, and that includes coaches. And that's a message that you give verbally anyway. I don't know that slapping them on the wrist or giving them the strap, like they used to when I was a kid at school, does anything for you.

"But I know we needed a good high-tempo skate and we got it this morning," he continued. "I can take a loss -- I don't like losses but I can take it if there's some value in your work. We didn't get a lot of value last night."


Ethan Moreau, Steve Staios, Gilbert Brule and Ryan Stone did not participate in the bag skate, and Marc Pouliot left the ice early. Here's what Quinn had to say about the absentees:

Ethan Moreau: "Ethan's neck that he hurt earlier in the season needed a day off recommended by our medical staff."

Steve Staios: "Staios had to get reviewed from his not feeling well, but I think part of it was whacking his head on the ice the other night. . . . He was being seen this morning."

Ryan Stone: "Stoner's getting his knee examined today."

Marc Pouliot: "He's still trying to condition, and so the work load caught up with him and he was getting a little fatigued and a little light-headed out there."

Pouliot may have re-aggravated his sports hernia, Quinn later added, a situation that may re-aggravate Oilers staffing for Wednesday's game vs. Vancouver.

"It looks like we'll be short. Stevie's probably not going to go, so we're trying to identify what we have to do here. Especially we have to clarify if Pouliot might have pulled something again when he left the ice because he left without talking to any of the coaches. We think he's going to be fine but we'd still need another body."

When asked if Mike Comrie may return to the line-up, Quinn said no. "He hasn't even scrimmaged. It's too much risk."

Author: Jen Sharpe |


After taking Sunday off to help some players beat a resurgence of the flu bug, the Oilers took to the ice for morning skate Monday at Pepsi Center in Denver.

After earning a goal and five assists in  a four-game conditioning assignment with the AHL's Springfield Falcons,
Marc Pouliot was recalled earlier in the day and joined the team in Denver.
Despite playing three games the past three days, the forward is eager to make it four-in-four tonight.

"I know I'm going to get sore here and there. If I play tonight it's going to be four games in four nights so it might be stiff. But overall I feel really good and I'm really happy to be back," he said.

Pouliot knows tonight's game will be faster and tougher than the AHL games he appeared in, but he's confident that he can contribute at this level.

"I haven't played (in the NHL) since pre-season so I don't know exactly how I'm going to react, but it went well in the minors. For sure it's a step forward here, a big step, but I think I'm ready for it."

The flu strikes again

With Pouliot's return, the Oilers will be able to ice a full contingent vs. the Avalanche, offsetting
Steve Staios, who will miss the game due to the flu. The defenceman is the latest of a handful of players to succumb to the bug.

"Marc's played three games in three nights so initially I was hesitant," Head Coach Pat Quinn said after the morning skate. "If Stevie had been alright I might not have played him, but let's go. Let's find out."

Fernando Pisani) was feeling a lot better yesterday," the coach continued. "[Shawn Horcoff] had a hard game the other night because he had lots of minutes, and it'll be the same for Fernando tonight. But they're ready to play and hopefully we don't drain them too much for this."

Deslauriers or Dubnyk? Decisions, decisions ...

After giving
Devan Dubnyk the start the past two games, Quinn has tapped Jeff Deslauriers for tonight's game.

"The book has not been written on either guy yet. I think we have to find out about these young men. Are they number ones yet? I don't think so, but we need to find out if one of them can step forward and continue to improve," Quinn said.

"They will probably have an opportunity to play lots of hockey between the two of them from here to the end of the season."


It was a case of the Mondays that the Oilers and their fans would like to forget. Faced with a divisional opponent with offensive firepower and impenetrable defences, the Oilers were unable to keep the Avalanche from tallying two goals per period en-route to a 6-0 trouncing in Denver.

Colorado goalie Craig Anderson stopped 24 shots for his fourth perfect game of the season, while at the opposite end of the net,
Jeff Deslauriers made 28 saves on 34 shots. Author: Jen Sharpe |
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