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The Team Today: Home Huddle

by Jen Sharpe / Edmonton Oilers


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 |


The Oilers were up bright and early New Year's Day and cleared tight security in Calgary before boarding the charter to San Jose.

Because Devan Dubnyk left for a stint with the AHL's Springfield Falcons earlier in the morning, Bryan Pitton joined the NHL team on the ice when they arrived at HP Pavilion. Pitton had a short commute: the Oilers' ECHL affiliate, the Stockton Thunder, are located just over an hour northwest of San Jose.

"Right away, I looked at the schedule and I knew that they were playing in San Jose Saturday night ... so I was pretty excited to finally get a game in," Pitton said. "Last time (during first call-up in mid-December) I only got a practice. I was hoping to get a game, but it will be pretty cool to sit on the bench this time."

In 17 games with the Thunder this season, Pitton has posted a 7-8-1 record and .912 SV%. The club is three games below .500 with a 13-16-2 record.

"It seems like we're the kind of team that wins four in a row and loses four in a row," the goalie explained. "We really haven't found our identity yet, but for me and [fellow Thunder goalie Andrew Perugini] we've both been doing pretty well and I'm just happy I can get up here for a little bit."

Pitton was the last man off the ice Friday afternoon and looks forward to honing his skills against NHL shooters while he's with the Oilers.

"If you give these guys the littlest bit in net, they're going to pick it," Pitton said after practice. "Everyone can shoot the puck real hard once you get to professional, but these guys, they can put the puck where they want it, so if I'm not square, if I'm not centred, they can make me look pretty bad. But knowing the chances that I might get up here again, I'm just going to keep working hard down in Stockton and hopefully get as many games as I can because you'd rather play than practice."

Although Pitton is pleased with his current situation, the same cannot be said for the rest of the Oilers. The club has won only one game in the past nine and sits at the bottom of the Western Conference. Saturday night's battle vs. the Sharks will test the team's ability to keep their New Year's resolutions and step up their play.

"We're fighting a bit to find our game and to find a way out of this little hole we've dug ourselves," Sheldon Souray said after practice. "We're looking for answers, and we're coming to the rink and working hard every day and we're trying to keep it positive, but it's definitely frustrating."

Head Coach Pat Quinn wants his club to play smarter and showcase some of the resilience they showed the last time they faced the Sharks on November 27, when the Oil lost a thrilling match in a shootout. (Read the game recap)

"Our game against them was a really good game the last time we played," Quinn recalled. "We executed well that night -- it shows we're capable of doing it, but we need to do it longer and harder. And when you're facing this kind of opposition, with the number of really top players that  they have, that gets people's attention.

"I don't care who we play, whether it's Calgary, a very good team, or whether it's this team that we're going to face tomorrow, the tops in our conference ... You have to execute, and you have to execute with some smarts, and we're not smart."

According to Souray, the time for reflection is over.

"I think our theme right now is we're into a new year and we're just going to start fresh and look at it like it's a new season for us. There's no sense in looking behind because you're going to be pretty frustrated with what you see that we've accomplished so far."

Author: Jen Sharpe |


Pat Quinn completed six seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs as Head Coach and also was the team's General Manager for four of those seasons from 1999 - 2003.

"Toronto is a great hockey town too," said Pat Quinn. "They love their players and rightfully so. At the end of the day they want to have success. That's what it's all about."

During his tenure, the Maple Leafs advanced at least as far as the second round of the National Hockey Playoffs five times and the Eastern Conference Final on two occasions.

"I'll always have great memories of my time there. I think about the people more than the organization. My thoughts are right here with our organization."


"It's not surprising to me because the coach told me like two months ago," said Visnovsky. "He was in Atlanta with the GM Peter Bondra. He said that we don't have too many NHL players, there are only 14. We have a couple of ex-NHL players in Europe but not a lot."

This Olympics will be the third in Visnovsky's career, having previously played in 2002 in Salt Lake City, Utah and 2006 in Torino, Italy.

"I'm not thinking about the Olympics right now, I'm thinking about the Oilers right now. We still have a lot of games before the Olympics."

"I've been skating by myself the last couple weeks so it's always higher pace and higher tempo when you get out and practice but I felt pretty good."

"I don't have a timeline just more or less getting some practices in and getting my timing down. Just getting back into skating shape."

Pisani claims that his weight is back up and everything is back to normal. He says that he's feeling great and it's just a matter of getting back to the shape he was in before.


It was a positive thing to see this morning after the Oilers finished practice. Mike Comrie took a little skate of his own. He appears to be getting stronger and able to skate without feeling too fatigued.

Mike Comrie practices his shot after the rest of the team wrapped up practice Tuesday afternoon.

Author: Kristi Hennessy |
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