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The Team Today: Grind Time

by Jen Sharpe / Edmonton Oilers


The Oilers took to the Rexall Place ice Wednesday at noon and skated for about an hour. Notable absentees were Steve Staios, Ryan Stone and Jean-Francois Jacques.

"[Staios] got wacked last night and today he went to be medically checked," Head Coach Pat Quinn told the media after practice. "Everything seems to be alright, other than he's sore."

With Staios questionable for Thursday's game vs. the Blue Jackets, Quinn was asked about the Oilers defensive contingent.

"We'll be down to five if Steve can't go, unless Lubomir (Visnovsky) is ready. Apparently he skated well this morning," Quinn said.

According to the coach, Stone suffered a knee injury last night and is taking a "'let's be cautious here' day." As for Jacques, it was a sore wrist that kept him off the ice.

"He's been struggling with a bad wrist, and yesterday they decided that rest would be important," Quinn explained. "That's not why we didn't dress him yesterday, because I didn't learn about it until I came to the rink last night, but apparently he's been having trouble with his wrist and so today was a day that they wanted to keep him right off."

Near the end of practice, Robert Nilsson crumbled to the ice but after a few moments, headed to the bench under his own power with one eye closed.

"Nilsson got poked in the eye," Quinn said. "It doesn't look to be anything of a problem, but somehow a stick went up under his visor in that little drill."


Jordan Eberle's final goal in the 2010 World Junior Hockey Championships vs. Team USA made him Canada's all-time leading scorer in the annual tournament.
With the World Junior Hockey Championships still fresh in everyone's mind, tournament star and Oilers prospect Jordan Eberle dominated the first half of Quinn's press conference. The coach confirmed that the club cannot call Eberle up to the Oilers until his season with the WHL's Regina Pats is complete.

When asked about the decision to send Eberle back to Junior at the beginning of the season rather than keep him with the Oilers, Quinn said that he "doesn't know what the right answer is."

"He had a pretty decent camp here, and so the decision really was do we keep him in this spot and put him at risk for some development trouble during a potentially troubled time. We were trying to think of it in his best interest, what would be best for him.

"I guess you'll never know that, but his development that has continued his spectacular goal scoring in clutch situations is tremendous as far as Canadians teams are concerned. And he's been a top scorer on his junior team, on a pretty good team," Quinn continued.

"I think that team has a chance, Memorial Cup wise, which would be great learning steps for that young man. He's shown certainly a terrific mind for playing the game, and while you might worry about size and that sort of thing, he hasn't shown a disinterest in going in the areas that you get results in.

"We hope we made the good decision with Jordan -- he's a terrific player and hopefully he'll be a big part of our future."

Author: Jen Sharpe |


The Oilers re-introduced a familiar face to the line-up at Tuesday's morning skate. After the Dustin Penner/Shawn Horcoff/Robert Nilsson line and the Patrick O'Sullivan/Ryan Potulny/Gilbert Brule line skated, Fernando Pisani appeared on the team's third line alongside Ryan Stone and Sam Gagner.

Tonight's game will mark Pisani's first contest since November 15, when his ulcerative colitis flared up and took him out of the line-up. The Oilers forward is happy to be back.

"I feel really good out there and I'm just looking forward to getting  back in the game situation," Pisani said after the skate. "I've been working hard the last two-and-a-half, three weeks just getting my strength back up, and been practicing a lot now, so I feel confident enough to play."

Fernando in, J-F out

With Pisani's return,
Jean-Francois Jacques will be the odd-man-out tonight vs. Phoenix. When asked about the decision, Head Coach Pat Quinn said it was a combination of factors.

"I love the way he tries, but I think he's been trying to force some things, turnovers up the boards and things of  that nature. But I could have picked some guys. He's just a young guy, got no points in the last little while.

"It certainly isn't because I'm disappointed in him," Quinn explained. "He won't be totally left aside at all."

Injury Updates

Nikolai Khabibulin: According to Quinn, the Oilers goalie is nearing the end of an eight-week window of assessment. If the player is not on the road to recovery at that point, surgery may be an option.

"Obviously, he's the athlete here and he's got decisions to make about what the next steps are. And one of the next steps is surgery."

Lubomir Visnovsky: On the topic of the Oilers defenceman, who injured his ankle New Year's Eve in Calgary, Quinn said it's day-to-day.

"It's not one of those high ankles, it is a sore ankle. And I didn't have an update today but I know he wasn't able to put a shoe on to practice, so I'm sure it's going to be a few days yet."


The Oilers found themselves down two goals twice, but quick comebacks paid off on both occasions and eventually resulted in overtime. But a penalty to recent returnee Fernando Pisani put the home team on the penalty kill early in sudden death and the visitors capitalized, with Shane Doan firing home the game-winner.

Gilbert Brule, Patrick O'Sullivan, Denis Grebeshkov & Dustin Penner scored for Edmonton, while goalie Jeff Deslauriers stopped 25 shots in the overtime loss.
Author: Jen Sharpe |


After arriving home from their Calgary-San Jose road trip very early Sunday morning, the Oilers took the rest of the day off and were back on the ice Monday morning at 10am.

"It's been a tough road, especially the last two or three weeks we've been in tough and it seems like everyone's a little tense," Gilbert Brule said after practice. "We need to stick with our system and believe in what we're doing and believe in the coaches and what they're trying to implement."

The 90-minute practice included plenty of discussion on at the white board, and Head Coach Pat Quinn said that's only the start of what's in store this week.

"We're going to have a little bit of a mini-camp here in two days," Quinn announced. "It's not going to square one, but certainly we need to dust off our fundamentals of the game and we might have to decide from a systems standpoint some minor adjustments.

"I'm not copping out here, but we had one practice day before an exhibition game. Never had I not had time to instil the basics. I had more time going to the Olympics than I did with this team here."

The Oilers host the Coyotes Tuesday, the Blue Jackets Thursday, and then enjoy a four-day break before playing Nashville January 12. Quinn said the team is "going to do some work" over the weekend.

"Sometimes you need a rest too . . . but I know the body can take a heck of a lot -- it's usually the mind that quits or stops playing or whatever it is," he said. "That's the strength that we're missing right now -- we need to keep developing our mind. Their bodies can take whatever we're going to hammer these guys with. They're going to be able to handle that."


On the eve of the 2010 World Junior Hockey Championships final between Canada and the U.S., former Team USA forward Patrick O'Sullivan shared his memories of the three Under-20 tournaments he participated in.

"It's a lot of fun to play in that tournament. I got to play three years, and I think if they can win another gold tomorrow it'll show that the (U.S.A. Hockey) program's come a long way," O'Sullivan said.

O'Sullivan played a big role in U.S.A's first World Junior title in 2004, and he looks back fondly on the victory over Canada. "To play a big part in the third period and get a couple goals in the comeback, and to beat Canada especially, was an awesome feeling.

The following year was a different story: the U.S was defeated by Russia in the semi-finals, preventing them from competing for the gold on their home turf. Team Canada, led by Sidney Crosby, won gold that year.

"To be honest, it was probably a blessing that it happened because we would have been playing Canada in our country with all their fans from Winnipeg that were in that building. They were a phenomenal team and I don't think we had much of a chance.

"Was I cheering for Canada? No, I was not cheering for Canada, but I also wasn't cheering for Russia. I was hoping that maybe the lights would go out and they'd just cancel the game."

Author: Jen Sharpe |
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