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THE TEAM TODAY: From Blues to Bruins

by Jen Sharpe / Edmonton Oilers


On the heels of Friday's 5-0 loss to St. Louis, the Oilers returned to the scene of the crime for an hour-long practice Saturday morning. 

Edmonton is taking little solace in the fact that they out-shot the Blues 39-22. The shutout is difficult to swallow, but the club wants to learn from the loss and
get a better result Sunday night vs. Boston.

"We definitely outchanced them and probably had better opportunities to score and more shots, obviously, but I think the little things of competing and really taking it to the next level, energy physically-wise wasn't there, and I think that was the difference," Andrew Cogliano reflected. "There needs to be more physical play, there needs to be more battle level, there needs to be better defensive and harder defensive plays.

"We're playing Boston and they're a very good team, they're a physical team, they're a big team and we're going to need everyone to show up and be really ready to work and to play hard," he continued. "They're a team that wants to push teams out of the building with the style they play, so it's going to be a big responding game for us in this room."


Head coach Tom Renney is expected to tweak the forward lines for the Bruins battle.

After missing 27 of the past 30 games due to illness, Gilbert Brule will make his return to the line-up Sunday, centering Ryan Jones and Steve MacIntyre on the fourth line.

"I've been waiting patiently and I'm very excited to get back in the line-up," Brule said after practice. "I don't want to give an exact timeline but I think I've been pretty healthy for at least a week here and I've been just been waiting to get into the line-up. We've been kind of up and down the last few games so it's tough to get in when we're winning."

Also returning to action will be rookie Linus Omark, who will skate with Magnus Paajarvi and Sam Gagner after sitting out the past two games as a healthy scratch.

"I don't think it hurts for young guys to watch here and there," Renney explained. "The only guy that really hasn't has been Taylor (Hall). Ebs (Jordan Eberle), because of injury, had a chance to watch, and we know how that ticked him off, but he also learned a lot by it. And I think Magnus had an opportunity to watch, and Linus has had a chance to watch. There's nothing wrong with that and it's certainly not fatal."

On the topic of experiences that aren't fatal but are certainly uncomfortable, Shawn Horcoff did not attend practice due to lingering effects of a puck to the groin. The Oilers captain blocked a Kurtis Foster slapshot in the third period last night and has not taken to the ice since.

I think he's going to be fine," Renney said. "It's sore and you've got to just be careful with how much you raise the blood pressure and how much exertion there is."

For the second consecutive game, the Oilers will leave most of the shot-blocking to Devan Dubnyk Sunday evening. After allowing five goals on 22 attempts vs the Blues, the 24-year-old goaltender is encouraged by Renney to get right back between the pipes.

"He had a tough night," the coach said. "There's other guys that have had tough nights too and they've had the opportunity to press on, and I think it's really good for Dubey to jump right back in there and do a good job."


It's like Summer 2010 all over again! ... except in the winter, and during an NHL game.

In addition to the line-up changes and comments about team performance, another big weekend storyline is Hall vs Seguin, part two.

Following last year's drama about the first overall draft pick, number one (Hall) and two (Tyler Seguin) will face eachother on NHL ice for the first time Sunday night.

"I think it's a great challenge for both kids, obviously. I don't thinks we need to blow it out of proportion at all," Renney said.

Hall is currently third among NHL rookies with 40 points (21, 19) in 62 games, while Seguin sits 16th with 21 points (10, 11) in 56 games. Although the stats point to Hall as the better first-year player, Renney said such a comparison isn't fair.

"Taylor gets a lot of minutes and plays a pretty significant role on our team, and Tyler is on a team that's deeper and with more experience and is a legitimate contender, so it equates into exactly what it is, where one is getting a little bit more opportunity than the other."

That being said, the coach had nothing but good things to say about his club's selection.

"I think Taylor's been excellent," Renney added. "I think that he certainly fits what is, in my mind, symbolic of a first overall pick by the nature of how he plays, naturally, but the maturity that he brings to the rink and how he handles interviews with [the media] and just the whole thing of having to be kind of an ambassador or a spokesman for the game as a young player. He's done a very good job of that too, nevermind how well he's played."


Linus Omark

In the latest edition of our fan question series, Jesse Lesik of Edmonton submitted a question for Linus Omark.

JESSE: "Do you think the smaller North American ice has affected your style of play in any way?"

LINUS: "Yeah, I'd have to say it's a little bit different, mostly behind the net. I don't have so much time or space behind the net, so I notice a difference there. But otherwise I try to play the same way."

Fill out the form on the right to submit a question for one of the Oilers. We will ask one of the submitted questions after the next practice and will post the answer in the next Team Today.

Author: Jen Sharpe |, with files from Bob Stauffer & Tom Gazzola



After completing a semi-successful road trip with a win in Denver Wednesday night, the Oilers enjoyed a day off yesterday before returning to the ice Friday for morning skate.

With wins in his past two starts, Devan Dubnyk will look to make it three straight with a victory tonight vs. the Blues. The 24-year-old goaltender will be backed up by vet Martin Gerber, who was recalled this morning to replace injured Nikolai Khabibulin.

Read the press release

"Nik had some type of an ice chip or something hit his eye," head coach Tom Renney explained. "(He) felt fine with it and played, obviously, and then having it looked at by an opthamologist, suggested that we should have it looked at again when we got home just to make sure everything was kosher.  They found that maybe he should rest for a few days because there was a little bit of bleeding in the eye."

Khabibulin isn't the only recent addition to the Oilers injured reserve. Defenceman Taylor Chorney suffered a right knee injury Tuesday night in Minnesota and will be placed on the IR today.

With Chorney's injury, the Oilers have opened up a spot for Gilbert Brule. Brule has missed 26 of the past 29 games due to illness, but Renney hasn't decided if tonight will mark the young forward's return to the line-up.

"He's ready to go if I want to use him," the coach said. "The numbers all fit it's just a matter of when I want to integrate him and then for whom."

Renney praised Brule's patience through the past few months.

"He's got a great attitude. He's good, he works hard, he's kept his spirits about him which is not easy when you're not playing. We just can't wait much longer in fairness to him and us. We've got to get the kid going and we see this as the opportunity, so we'll make a game-time decision as to whether he goes tonight."


While Edmonton's line-up is uncertain, the club's motive is clear: earning another two points.

"Winning is way more fun than losing," Ladislav Smid said after the skate. "I think in the last 10 days or week, we built a little more confidence and the atmosphere is way better here, and I think the team has been playing the way that we wanted to play, so it's been fun."

Sam Gagner said the turning point was General Manager Steve Tambellini's Valentine's Day meeting with the team.

"We got that challenge from management. We just weren't playing well and the compete level was kind of dropping off. It happens sometimes when you find yourself kind of out of it. You kind of forget the reasons what makes you successful.

"Obviously we've got that intensity back  in our game and everyone's playing with a lot of urgency and compete level," Gagner added. "It's been a lot of fun and hopefully we can keep things rolling."


In one of those rare contests in which shots and goals tell two totally different stories, the Oilers out-shot the Blues 39-22 but were shutout 5-0 Friday night. In only his eighth career NHL game and third start of the season, big Blues goaltender Ben Bishop stole the show by keeping the Oilers off the board.

Author: Jen Sharpe |, with files from Tom Gazzola & Bob Stauffer



After dropping a 4-1 decision in Minnesota and landing in Denver after midnight, the majority of the Oilers did not skate at Pepsi Center and instead addressed the media at the hotel Wednesday morning.

Tuesday's game vs. the Wild started well: the Oilers outshot the home team 8-5 in the first period and were tied 1-1 after 40 minutes. But in the third period, the club struggled on the power-play and surrendered three goals, resulting in a 4-1 loss.

"It's unfortunate," head coach Tom Renney said this morning. "We've even talked about it through a few of the guys, exactly what happened, and certainly I think the power-play was one of those things where we certainly could have got ourselves back in it and didn't.

"We've got to get ourselves to the point where we believe completely in what our game plan is and play 60 minutes of it because often times 1-0 or 1-1 turns out to be 3, 4, 5-1 later on in the game."

Edmonton is looking forward to getting back in the saddle.

"That's the great part about this job is after a period like we had last night, we get a chance to make up for it tonight," Dustin Penner said.


To help spur a return to the win column, Renney is expected to make a few changes to the line-up tonight vs. the Avalanche.

One change is necessitated by injury. Young defenceman Taylor Chorney suffered a knee injury in the second period last night and will be replaced by veteran Jason Strudwick.

"I'm not sure of the length of Chorns' issue, I'm not even sure if I can call it day-to-day exactly, but we do have some depth with Struddy being around, so we'll go there," Renney explained.

A handful of players participated in morning skate,  including forward Gilbert Brule who is currently on the injured reserve. Renney said he'll "make a game-time decision on a couple of them."

Judging by the Oilers recent goaltending schedule, Devan Dubnyk will likely get the start.


Although Colorado has struggled in their past 10 games and, like Edmonton, flew in late last night, the team is coming off a 4-3 win in St. Louis and is expected to be fired up for tonight's contest.

"I think they may have a new vigour after a big win for themselves last night," Renney said. "They've integrated a couple of guys in their line-up that they feel are really important to them, obviously, and we feel similarly."

The Oilers must return to what produced a three-game winning streak last week, the coach added.

"The big thing is, again, to bring all of ourselves to the game tonight and really, really pay attention to 60 minutes of hockey and embrace what we want to look like as a team and how we have to play in order to have success. That's number one.

"Number two, I think we've got to really stay on top of our specialty teams and don't deviate from it," Renney continued. "And beyond that, I think we've got to really try, if we can, to push the pace, use our bench, use the depth. In back-to-back games, you've got to use your people."


Despite being out-shot 39-31, the Oilers significantly out-scored the Avalanche 5-1 Wednesday night, thanks in large part to strong specialty teams and solid goaltending from Devan Dubnyk. Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Tom Gilbert led the game with two points each.

Author: Jen Sharpe |, with files from Bob Stauffer

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