With a matinee game on Saturday afternoon (1:00 p.m. local time start, noon in Edmonton), the Oilers practiced at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. Tom Gilbert
and Ryan Whitney
were both not on the ice for the team with each player participating in off-ice workouts.
Otherwise, it was business as usual with the same line combinations as the St. Louis game. STILL NO CIGAR
The theme for the Oilers on this trip has been "close, but no cigar" in so many ways. The club has deserved a better fate in at least four of the five losses on this trip through six games. Not only have they come up short on the scoresheet, the team has hit upwards of 10 posts on this trip including four last night alone.
"The cake's no good without the frosting. We need to win," Renney flat-out stated following practice.
"I think the internal pressure is good, the internal expectations are good. Those are the most important. That said, we have to do everything we possibly can to know that we left it on the ice," the coach continued.
"There's nohting worse than coming into your dressing room thinking you had more to give, you could have done better," Renney said, adding that hasn't been the case for his squad for most of this trip.
"On this trip, with the exception of a game -- and that includes Vancouver -- we've played hard. We haven't had the results and the last thing we want to do is feel self pity. Nobody else cares whether you're winning or not so we have to."
Winger Ryan Jones
concurred with his head coach.
"we have to continue to play with the same intensity that we have. At the same time, we have to tighten up with our execution. If we do that, we'll see points on our side instead of the opponent's," he began, adding that the team needs to play a more complete 60-minute effort.
"We're finding out what 50 minutes of good hockey will get you -- usually a loss," Jones remarked.
Jones added that you need to come to the rink with a lunch bucket mentaility and be prepared to work hard because the team staring at you across the rink in all likelihood will do just that.
"There's teams all around this league that know that's what it takes," he said. "If we continue to play like that and tighten up in a few areas -- I think discipline is one area that we need to work on -- we'll win more hockey games." Ladislav Smid
talked about how close this team can get at times and how the results need to start showing up on the scoresheet and in the standings.
"This is a new group of guys. We're a young team. Lots of guys who came here at the start of this season they didn't experience what happened the previous two years and we don't want them to experience it," said Smid.
"We are not a 30th place team in the NHL. I think this team can beat anybody in the League. We just have to get back on track and start winning some games." ALL-STAR EBERLE?
Winger Jordan Eberle
has made a strong case for himself to be invited to the NHL's annual event in Ottawa later this month.
With 43 points, ranking 7th in the entire NHL, and 17 goals -- ranking 16th -- Eberle has proven that he deserves to be in the League's elite class.
"It would be an honour but right now I'm focused on the team," said Eberle today. "I'm not too worried about the All-Star Game but it would be nice."
The starters were announced yesterday and the remaining roster should be announced sometime next week. Renney agreed that Eberle should go.
"I haven't even thought of it but now that you brought it up I think he should have a chance at the very least," he said. "These are great young players that the Oilers have. We have excellent scouting and they should get recognition from the League." BLUELINE INJURY UPDATES
The Oilers have certainly missed the presence on the blueline of Ryan Whitney
-- and, more recently, Tom Gilbert
-- through the latter portion of the road trip.
After visiting the doctor who performed his surgery in Charlotte, North Carolina, Ryan Whitney
rejoined the team in Dallas. He did not skate and Renney did not seem to think he was that much closer to finally playing.
"The biggest thing for him is strength. Ryan is a very important player for us," said Renney, adding that the team needs to get him back on the ice and skating sooner rather than later.
"We're taking our time with him," he said. "We'll prod and push but listen to the player."
As for Gilbert, Renney said that his knee is much better but he also suffered an ankle injury in his tumble into the boards at the hands of Dan Carillo.
"The ankle has been slower to respond," Renney said. -- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com