| LARGE GROUP SKATES MONDAY |
The Oilers practiced Monday morning at Millenium Place in Sherwood Park, and compared to most practices over the past month and a half, the ice looked full and busy.
Sunday's full day off gave many the chance to recover from the tough loss in Vancouver, meaning the only surprise absentees for Monday's practice were Sam Gagner and Shawn Horcoff.
Head Coach Pat Quinn said Gagner had an appointment, while Horcoff is "a little banged up. It was sensible for us not to practice him today and we'll see how he fares for tomorrow and the next day."
Quinn said he expects both players to dress in Thursday's game at Detroit and announced that Ryan Stone and Robert Nilsson will also be good to go. Stone has been out with a knee injury since October 22, while Nilsson has been sidelined with a concussion suffered November 10.
"Both of them have been cleared from a medical standpoint," Quinn said. "They'll get these three practice days and that'll help."
KHABI STILL HURTING
Goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin did not take to the ice Monday, marking the 10th day of his day-to-day back injury. Quinn and GM Steve Tambellini had no news on the team's starter.
"He's not cleared for anything yet," Quinn said. "He's a top player, one of our top players, and when you miss a top player it's not expected and you miss them. You have to somehow suck it up and keep going."
With Khabibulin out indefinitely and forward Ales Hemsky out for the remainder of the regular season, Tambellini said the entire organization needs to look on the bright side.
"The half full answer . . . is that it does present opportunity, whether it's in goal or it's in some offensive situations without Hemsky. You work a lot in your career to be presented with an opportunity. The biggest thing is making sure you're ready to take advantage of that."
THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING
It may be tough for the Oilers to stay positive with the injuries, illnesses, and recent tough losses, but coaches, management, and players are adamant that hard work and determination will pay off in wins.
|GM Steve Tambellini |
"The make-up of any team or any player has skill, the intangible parts -- the attitude, if you will, that deals with heart -- and also has knowledge, how to play the game and understanding," Quinn explained. "We try to develop all three of those sides to the guy all the time. And you get challenges, usually on that intangible side, the challenges come with adversity, with injury, with losing points when you shouldn't lose points.
"The guys are fighting hard. We didn't give up effort. We had a lousy start the other night and bounced back and played certainly a real good second period. . . They didn't run away, and to me that's a sign that we've got some character here."
Tambellini echoed the bench boss' comments. "Since coming off that long road trip, there seemed to more a sense of energy in the group, which is encouraging. I thought we played some strong games against San Jose, with some obvious mistakes that happened, and played well against good teams. Had a tough start in Vancouver but came back and played hard.
"Are there ways to get better? Obviously," the GM continued. "There has to be an environment for people to get better, and the coaches are working and I know the players are too."
When asked if the team might benefit from a mid-season trade for new blood in the locker room, defenceman Steve Staios replied that those hypothetical discussions aren't productive.
"There's no use sitting around thinking about what would happen if we had someone else in the room," he said. "We have a group of guys in the room, and our job is to go and get the job done and execute the game plan. Each individual has to look at themselves, come prepared to practice, and be a true professional."
Author: Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com