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The Team Today: In & Out

by Jen Sharpe / Edmonton Oilers
FRIDAY, MARCH 12, 2010


After landing in Toronto late Thursday night, the Oilers got a good night's rest and took to the ice at the Leafs practice facility at about 2pm EST.

Before the full team skate, Associate Coach Tom Renney did an on-ice assessment with captain Ethan Moreau to determine if he is ready to play vs. Toronto Saturday night. Moreau has been plagued by a neck injury for the past 10 days.

"He tested out pretty good on the ice in that little test we started doing, and so there's a good chance he'll be playing," Head Coach Pat Quinn stated after practice.


While Moreau is expected to return to the line-up Saturday night, defenceman Ryan Whitney is questionable. Whitney blocked a shot at the tail end of the second period in Montreal Thursday night and missed the final frame.

"I was just going to the net, I can't remember with who but I was facing sideways, and (Andrei) Markov took a shot. My shinpad had moved and it just caught me right in the knee, so it's pretty swollen and sore today but I'll try to skate tomorrow in the morning and see how it feels," Whitney explained.

"I got x-rays and everything done this morning at the hospital here and it seems to be fine, so just one of those deep bone bruises."

The injury comes at a difficult time for the newly-acquired defenceman and the Oilers. The club already has two rookies on the blueline, Theo Peckham and Taylor Chorney, and may call up a third if Whitney can't dress Saturday night.

"Haven't placed a call yet but both Ken (Lowe, Head Medical Trainer) and myself will be talking to Steve (Tambellini) about someone coming in," Quinn announced.

"There's lots of considerations because a big part of the game today is contracts and so planning has to be done there and planning can best be done after a bit of an evaluation."

Earlier this week, the Oilers lost forward Patrick O'Sullivan to a hand injury and recalled Chris Minard. Quinn expects the Ontario-native to play vs. Toronto.

"One game wouldn't have been fair, so I'm pretty sure he'll be going tomorrow," the coach said.

The Oilers currently have eight players out of the line-up due to injury. 
Forward Fernando Pisani didn't participate in Friday's practice, but Quinn downplayed the absence.

"He has a groin pull that was considered to be better to be off today rather than skate."

Author: Jen Sharpe |, with files from Bob Stauffer


The Canadiens skated at their practice facility Thursday morning, which meant that the Oilers could bump their morning skate time to 10:30 at the Bell Centre.

Among the new faces on the ice were call-up forward
Chris Minard and captain Ethan Moreau, who has been sidelined with a neck injury and hasn't skated since March 2 in Nashville.

When asked if Moreau will play tonight, Head Coach Pat Quinn said "probably not."


Among the players who WILL play is goalie
Devan Dubnyk. Dubnyk has been watching from the sidelines for the past three games as Jeff Deslauriers manned the net for the Oil, but after Tuesday's loss to Ottawa, Dubnyk moves back into the starting position.

The goaltending assignment follows the plan Quinn announced after the Olympic break: Winning goalie stays in until he loses, then other goalie gets the start.

"We made a plan and that's the plan and we're going to go with it," Quinn explained. "We obviously want to give each of the two down the stretch the chance to show whether or not they can be the men that carry us forward."

Dubnyk is looking forward to the contest vs. the Canadiens.

"Any opportunity I get to play right now is really exciting still," he said. "I've heard from just about everybody that it's a pretty exciting place to play and I'll just let that add to the excitement and go play."

The 23-year-old is still looking for his first NHL win, but he isn't letting that pressure distract him from the task at hand.

"Thinking about the outcome, you're never going to get there if you do that," Dubnyk explained. "If I want to think about that, I try think about it at home, away from the rink, and when I come here just get back to concentrating on the things I need to do that's going to get that win."


Patrick O'Sullivan suffered a hand injury last game, the Oilers called up forward Chris Minard from the AHL's Springfield Falcons Wednesday afternoon. Tonight's game in Montreal will be the 28-year-old's first game as an Oiler and 36th NHL contest, following 35 appearances with the Pittsburgh Penguins over the past two seasons.

"He would have had a chance earlier the way this season's gone injury-wise, but he was injured for much of the season himself," Quinn said. "Just in the morning skate, he knows what to do with those hands, they look pretty good, so we're going to give him some ice time and see how things go.

"First game, and I'm sure he'll be excited, and why not? What a great place to start."

"It's been a long year, a long frustrating year sitting out and watching and going through the losing process down there hasn't been much fun," Minard added. "I'm real happy to be here and hopefully take advantage of the opportunity."


After a shaky start in which they both allowed two goals on less than six shots, Devan Dubnyk and Jaroslav Halak stepped up their play and watched their skaters battle back and forth through 60 minutes and overtime. In the shootout, the goalies were perfect through four rounds but come round five, Andrei Kostitsyn beat Dubnyk and Sam Gagner was unable to counter, sealing a 5-4 shootout win for the Canadiens.

Robert Nilsson, Gagner, Andrew Cogliano and Shawn Horcoff scored for Edmonton, while Dubnyk finished with 22 saves in his 10th NHL appearance.
Author: Jen Sharpe |, with files from Bob Stauffer


The Oilers held an optional morning skate Tuesday, with approximately 14 players taking to the Rexall Place ice.

At one end of the ice was goalie
Jeff Deslauriers, who will play his third consecutive game tonight and assist his club in their quest for a three-game winning streak.

"I think if you go through our four lines, all the four lines have contributed, there's no question, if not playing hard defensively then cashing in a goal. But we wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the play of JD, that's for sure," Assistant Coach Kelly Buchberger said after practice.

"These past couple of games have been good," Head Coach Pat Quinn added. "As I say to these young men, it may look pretty bleak as far as the end of the road because it's a playoff position you want and then you want results there too. That's not a possibility, so they have to really concentrate on their individual development now to continue to become better players, both on the physical side but more importantly in areas that will help them be a complete player."


One of the players who has improved significantly this season is defenceman
Theo Peckham. After a disappointing initial call-up in late October, the 22-year-old rookie has been productive and powerful in the past four games with the Oilers and even earned third star for his efforts Friday, March 5 vs. Minnesota.

"I know when I came up earlier in the season I didn't really show the new coaching staff what I could do -- I was pretty shaky out there," Peckham said. "So coming up for the second time, I knew that it's kind of all or nothing, this is kind of like my last crack at it. I think so far I've kind of taken advantage of it."

The road back to Edmonton has been a bumpy one, he explained.

"I hurt my ankle in the summer. I missed training camp, I missed the first few games of the season in the American League, and when I came back I think I played 20 games, and the first 10 of those were pretty bad with my ankle. And as soon as I started to get my feet under me, I had a concussion so I missed seven weeks. And with concussions it's kind of tough because you can't work out, you can't do anything so your conditioning goes out the door.

"So I came back, and four games later I hurt my knee and I missed a couple weeks with that. I came back in early February from that and I guess now I'm here."

Quinn is pleased with the improvements he's seen.

"He's a good athlete but nothing good happened for him in that four-game or five-game stretch he was here -- not very many positive things," the head coach commented. "He's made way less mistakes in his couple of games that he's played, and hopefully that continues. I like what I see right now."


In addition to covering tonight's game, local media were eager to interview goaltender
Nikolai Khabibulin in the Oilers locker room Tuesday. It was his first media availability since undergoing spinal surgery in mid-January.

Khabibulin explained that the injury arose suddenly in mid-November and failed to improve on its own.

"The night before I felt great and everything and was pretty excited about the game (vs. Chicago) here, and then in the morning I was walking to the rink from my car and I just started feeling kind of funny. I went out, skated, and it kind of started progressing a little bit. And the next day it got worse and it never got better, really."

"Even after it happened, I thought it wouldn't be too big a deal," he added. "Obviously I didn't think it would take two months and then I would go for surgery. That was the last thing I wanted to do. I thought maybe it would be a week or so, but it just never got better."

Khabibulin said the season has been "disappointing" and is looking forward to returning to the Oilers once he's made a full recovery.

"[The doctor] said that if I rehab correctly, properly there shouldn't be any problems down the road, so I'm pretty optimistic about it and trying to do everything that I've been told to do," he said. "Obviously it's not fun to rehab most of the time. Hockey's what I love to do and that was disappointing, especially with the team being in last place, it's never fun."


With 24 saves in the first two periods, Oilers goalie Jeff Deslauriers had his club on even terms heading into the final frame. But four Edmonton penalties helped Ottawa add 14 shots and three goals in the third, propelling the visitors to a 4-1 win at Rexall Place Tuesday night.

Fernando Pisani started the scoring with his third goal of the season early in the second period, while Deslauriers finished with 35 saves and third star.
Author: Jen Sharpe |, with files from Bob Stauffer
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