| SWEAT EQUITY |
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 | edmontonoilers.com