FROM BLUES TO BRUINS
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."
HALL VS SEGUIN
|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."
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 | edmontonoilers.com, with files from Bob Stauffer & Tom Gazzola