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The Team Today: Drills & Skills

by Jen Sharpe / Edmonton Oilers


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 movement 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 |


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 |
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