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The Team Today: Michigan Men

by Jen Sharpe / Edmonton Oilers
MONDAY, MARCH 29, 2010


12 hours after landing in Detroit Sunday night, the Oilers took to the ice at Joe Louis Arena for a lengthy practice Monday afternoon.

Injured forward Ryan Jones continues to skate with the team and edge his way back into the line-up. Jones skated with Ryan Potulny and Gilbert Brule, while Patrick O'Sullivan swapped with Zack Stortini alongside Robert Nilsson and Marc Pouliot.

Edmonton's other two forward lines consisted of Ethan Moreau, Shawn Horcoff, and Fernando Pisani, as well as Dustin Penner, Andrew Cogliano, and Mike Comrie.

Cogliano said he is looking forward to playing with his new linemates.

"I play pretty good with Pens, which is a good thing. I think they're just trying to shake things up here and there."


With three wins over the mighty Wings already this season, the Oilers are looking to make it a perfect four with a victory Tuesday night.

For a team that's had only 24 wins all season, Edmonton credits its success vs. Detroit to preparation and hard work.

"Detroit's a team that will take it to you if you're not ready and not ready to play," Cogliano explained. "We always come very focused and prepared, and when we play well we have a chance to win every game."

Pisani was more specific in his assessment.

"They have a lot of skilled players out there, and if you limit their time and space out there, they're not going to be able to create as many opportunities that they're used to," he said. "I think we did a really good job of keeping a close gap and not giving them too much room."

Head Coach Pat Quinn added that confidence will play a big role in tomorrow's match-up.

"A lot of times, it's tougher to be a good team and stay good than it is to be a rising team," he explained. "I think our team skates against them well, and some teams you get a little confidence against. But that's still a good hockey team, and they'd be someone that probably in that first round that you don't want to bump into."


The playoffs are an impossibility for the Oilers this season, potentially challenging the team's ability to stay focused as an early summer approaches. But the Oilers are determined to finish on a positive note, both individually and as a team.

"Next year we don't know what's going to happen with guys playing on the team and personnel-wise," Cogliano said. "You want to do as much as possible to show that you're committed and you're still working until the end of the season. It's a tough situation but you have to put it behind you and work."

That drive to persevere is what the coaches are demanding from the players in the final seven games, even though the big prize -- a Stanley Cup -- is out of reach.

"At the end of the day, you do work for your playoff spots and the opportunity to win a Stanley Cup, but the only way you do that is pay attention to your process that we set at the start of the year," Quinn explained. "This is a process, and the process means that you pay attention to how you develop yourself, how you develop your teammates, and that you come to work every day. That is what you owe everybody else in that room.

"We have to stay on top of that and have our players accept that that's what they're playing for now."

Author: Jen Sharpe |, with files from Bob Stauffer

The Oilers take a few laps around the ice before practice begins at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, MI. (Photo by Jen Sharpe |

SUNDAY, MARCH 28, 2010


Although the Oilers landed the first punch in Sunday's game in St. Louis, the Blues countered with two more to win the bout 2-1. Patrick O'Sullivan scored Edmonton's only goal of the game, while Devan Dubnyk posted 29 saves in the losing effort.


The Blues dominated the first few minutes of the game, firing four shots on Dubnyk while limiting the Oilers to one on Chris Mason. At 6:17, the Oilers pulled themselves together and drew the first penalty of the game, a high-sticking minor for Erik Johnson, but the powerplay sputtered.

Although the man-advantage wasn't advantageous, O'Sullivan made an impact during five-on-five two minutes later. After snagging the puck from Barret Jackman, O'Sullivan broke in on Mason and slipped the puck home to give Edmonton a 1-0 lead.

A second visiting powerplay helped the Oilers assume their first shot lead later in the period, but the club was unable to convert the attempts into a second goal.

Shortly after Jay McClement's two minutes expired, Johnson plowed
Ryan Potulny near the penalty boxes, prompting the wrath of Dean Arsene and fighting majors to both players. The brawl capped a frame in which Edmonton produced one goal and a 10-7 shot advantage.


Five minutes into the middle frame, St. Louis got experienced the sunnier side of a man-advantage when Edmonton was called for too many men, but the Blues couldn't beat Dubnyk to get on the scoreboard.

At 8:51, a tripping minor to Arsene gave the Blues a second shot, and this time they got the job done. From the point, Johnson teed up and wired the puck through traffic to even the game at one with a powerplay goal.

A third Blues powerplay helped the home team assume a 23-16 shot lead, but a pair of Oilers shorthanded scoring chances and big saves from Dubnyk stalled St. Louis' efforts to jump ahead. As such, the 1-1 tie stretched into the third period.


Edmonton was gifted two man-advantages early in the final frame, but St. Louis' penalty killers were oppressive and kept the puck away from Mason.

The tables turned at 5:30 when
Aaron Johnson took a hooking minor, and though the Blues couldn't secure a powerplay goal, they got the same result seconds into five-on-five. With Johnson racing out of the penalty box, Brad Winchester got the puck at the point and slapped it back on net. Keith Tkachuk caught a piece of the rocket and deflected it past Dubnyk, putting the Blues ahead for the first time.

With nine minutes left in regulation,
Marc Pouliot and Carlo Colaiacovo decided to spice things up by dropping their gloves in front of the Oilers bench. Colaiacovo sent Pouliot's helmet flying early in the fight, but the Oiler countered by connecting on a pair of punches before tumbling to the ice.

The Oilers were desperate to get back on even terms in the final minutes, pulling Dubnyk for six skaters with 1:33 left to play, but the club's efforts fell flat and the Blues walked away with a 2-1 come-from-behind win.

Author: Jen Sharpe |


The Oilers started the weekend with a three-hour flight to St. Louis, Missouri and afternoon practice at Scottrade Center, home of the Blues.

Sam Gagner (hip injury) was not present on the Oilers charter, but fellow forward Ryan Jones was. Jones injured his right knee on a hit from Minnesota's Derek Boogaard March 5 and is nearing a return to the line-up.

"I think at this point, it's a matter of conditioning," Jones explained. "The last couple of days have just been getting the mind and the hands and the feet and everything working together.

"You're off the ice for a couple weeks and it's funny the little things -- you think about doing something, and your hands don't do it. So it takes a couple days to get that back."

Jones anticipates a conditioning assessment with the coaches over the next few days and is looking forward to contributing to the team's on-ice efforts as the season winds down.

"I thought today I was better just in practice and we'll see conditioning-wise what the coaches think," he said.

"Any time you're out of the line-up, it's a miserable time -- you spend a lot of time just being bored. But it's a great opportunity for me to show what I can do for the future and play out the rest of this year, help this team win some games. The season's not over and hopefully we'll win a few."


Jones and the rest of the Oilers hope that winning starts Sunday in St. Louis. After building a three-game win streak earlier this week, Edmonton capped their homestand with a 3-2 loss to Anaheim Friday night and is looking for a better showing vs. the Blues.

"We didn't get the same effort that we've been getting for the past few weeks, and when you don't come to play, the result usually isn't in favour," Mike Comrie said about the loss to the Ducks. "I think that if we come to play against St. Louis, we give ourselves the chance to win and stick to our game plan, I think we can have some success."

If you're unable to make it to Missouri this weekend, catch the game live on Rogers Sportsnet West at 4pm MDT.

Author: Jen Sharpe |, with files from Bob Stauffer
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