After enjoying a well-deserved day off Monday, the Oilers were back at work Tuesday morning for a lengthy practice at Millenium Place in Sherwood Park, AB.
The Oilers were split into two for the first hour of practice, occupying adjoining rinks. On the first rink, Devan Dubnyk and Nikolai Khabibulin manned the nets as the following forward lines ran drills:
Paajarvi - Gagner - Hemsky
Penner - Cogliano - Brule
Reddox - Fraser - Jones
Giroux - O'Marra - McDonald
On the second rink, Jeff Deslauriers and Martin Gerber were in net, while three lines skated:
Hall - Horcoff - Eberle
MacIntyre - Stortini - Jacques
Ondrus - Vande Velde - Omark
Both groups came together for the final hour of practice, working mainly on powerplay and penalty killing, including five-on-threes.
With 37 players remaining on the Oilers roster, it's only going to get more difficult for GM Steve Tambellini, management and coaches as the opening roster deadline approaches.
According to Head Coach Tom Renney, the influx of young talent is exciting but it will be a challenge to balance depth and experience.
"I believe as things unfold over the next few days, you'll see it become a little bit more concrete about what we want to look like as a team, and my guess is there will be some youth involved with that," Renney said.
"Depth and experience are two different things, and we've got to be very careful that we don't get the cart before the horse here. If we're younger, great, I'm fine with that, but it has to be youth that can play."
NETMINDERS? WHO KNOWS
Some of the toughest decisions for management will be between the pipes. Veteran Nikolai Khabibulin is expected to get the starting job, but there are three other goalies -- Deslauriers, Dubnyk & Gerber -- still battling for the back-up position.
Although it's crowded in the crease, Dubnyk says he isn't fazed by the competition.
"There's not too many guys besides your set starting goaltenders, for the most part, that get to come into camp and not have much to worry about," he explained. "You don't get to this level by not having a competitive nature and wanting to succeed. It's part of it. I've been doing it since I got drafted.
"I think the most important thing about it is to not concentrate on that but just concentrate on what you need to do to go out and stop the puck."
With only six pre-season games on the schedule, another challenge is getting enough time to showcase your skills. But you've got to work with what you've got, Deslauriers added.
"That's probably the shortest training camp I've had so far, but it doesn't matter. You have to be ready every day, work hard and have your preparation on the top of your game."
THE SOURAY STORY
In addition to goaltending, another big storyline at Tuesday's practice was the status of Sheldon Souray. The defenceman was not invited to camp, and Tambellini said the team is unsure about how they will proceed with his contract as the season approaches.
"We're just trying to see if there's still some situation that would make sense from a trade standpoint," the GM explained. "I know that waivers are an option for the hockey club, but we still just want to see if there is time to maybe do something -- not just to make a trade but helps the Oilers."
The Oilers are looking to stretch their pre-season winning streak to four games with a victory over the Phoenix Coyotes Wednesday, September 29.
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In the latest edition of our fan question series, Chris of Edmonton submitted a question for Liam Reddox.
CHRIS: I've taken notice that your physical strength seems to have caught up with your mental will in terms of being able to play a physical game. What have you been doing to better prepare yourself for a gritty role at the NHL level?
LIAM: I just think in the off-season the biggest thing is explosive training rather than just lifting heavy weights. I feel like any meat-head can lift 100lb dumbbells, but training the right way and doing a lot of olympic lifts and those sorts of training definitely helps.
Other than the gym stuff, I've been doing a lot of track training which again is a lot of fast-twitch fibers. Training that side of the body has definitely helped on the ice. I feel not only faster but I can do it more often. Being able to go out every shift and play at the same tempo is definitely a huge help.
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