Skip to main content
The Official Site of the Edmonton Oilers

THE TEAM TODAY: Montreal Calling

by Jen Sharpe / Edmonton Oilers


After starting their three-game eastern Canada road trip with a win in Ottawa, the Oilers made the short trip to Montreal and held a team practice at the Canadiens practice facility late Tuesday morning.

Injured players Nikolai Khabibulin and Ales Hemsky, who have missed six and three games respectively, continue to skate with the team.

Both players are sidelined with groin injuries but are expected to return to the line-up soon.

"I had a full practice today for the first time and I felt pretty good," Khabibulin said. "I guess I should be ready any day now. Maybe it's a matter of getting a practice or two more. As far as the groin feels, it's good."


The Oilers are looking forward to the return of both stars, but the team has fared decently well in their absence. The line of Dustin Penner, Andrew Cogliano, and Gilbert Brule was especially successful Monday night in Ottawa, producing two of Edmonton's four goals, including the game-winner.

"We've had chemistry before in the past and we're finding it again," Penner said of his linemates. "We share the puck well, we have a lot of speed through the neutral zone and getting in on the forecheck. They're getting pucks to me down low, our D are keeping it in and putting it behind the net for me, and I'm just trying to find those guys with speed."

The line of Jean-Francois Jacques, Zack Stortini, and Colin Fraser has also been turning heads, thanks in large part to physical, high-energy shifts.

"We've been focusing a lot in the last three or four games on getting the momentum if we don't have it and making sure that we keep it if the team has the momentum when we jump on the ice," Jacques explained. "When we play, we try to make the best out of it. A game like yesterday, I think we brought some momentum to the team at good moments and it paid off -- we won the game."


The Oilers will carry that momentum into the Centre Bell when they take on the Canadiens Wednesday evening. Head coach Tom Renney says the experience of facing the historic Habs in front of their passionate fans will be a good one for all Oilers, especially the rookies.

"This is big for them. We need to experience it all obviously, and we have every intention of making sure that venues like Montreal and Toronto are a part of their road map," Renney said. "It's important, it's exciting, there's no question about that. We come off a good win from last night, but at the same time, we know that we've got a formidable opponent in our next one, and it's Montreal, who happens to be playing very, very well in our minds."

"Every venue brings on a sort of a different feel to it, a different personality, but the game is still the game, and we have to make sure that we anchor ourselves by the fundamentals of playing and I think we're getting better at that."


Martin Gerber

In the latest edition of our fan question series, Jacob of Edmonton submitted a question for Martin Gerber.

JACOB: "Why is your helmet all white?"

MARTIN: "There wasn't enough time before camp to get the painted one, so that was about it."

Does it bother you that it's not painted?

"No, it never bothers me at all. I think other people are bothered more about it."

Fill out the form on the right to submit a question for one of the Oilers. We will ask one of the submitted questions after the next practice and will post the answer in the next Team Today.

Author: Jen Sharpe |, with files from Bob Stauffer



The Oilers began their three-game eastern Canada road trip with morning skate at Scotiabank Place in the Ottawa suburbs Monday.

Forward Ales Hemsky participated in the skate but will not dress tonight vs. the Senators.

"He's a no-go," head coach Tom Renney stated. "We'll skate him again tomorrow and get a good feel for him. I think he's probably beyond day-to-day now; I think he's probably within the next game, he'll play."


On the topic of goaltending, all three Oilers goalies -- Nikolai Khabibulin, Devan Dubnyk & Martin Gerber -- were on the ice. Gerber had his own net, signalling that he would get the start tonight vs. the Senators.

"The timing certainly lines up nicely here," Renney explained. "I did want to give Devan a game against San Jose, a pretty formidable opponent, and he needs the practice against those types of teams too. So this rolled out nicely where we could put Marty in against Ottawa.

"He's just playing really well and deserves the chance to play."

Gerber played three seasons with the Senators from 2006-2009 and has fond memories of playing in Canada's capital city.

"It was fun, it's a hockey town. The first year was really great when we went in the playoffs and the whole area went crazy and that was awesome to see. They have always been supportive, so I enjoyed my time here for sure," he said.


Another player who has fond memories of Scotiabank Place is rookie Jordan Eberle. The arena was the site of Eberle's epic clutch goals during the 2009 World Junior Hockey Champions that helped Canada secure a gold medal.

"It was a special time," he recalled. "For that tournament a couple of years ago, any time you have a winning team there's always fond memories behind it."

The rookie is focused on the current challenge, however.

"To be honest I didn't even think about coming back here until someone had mentioned it, so for me it's just business and trying to get a win tonight."


Wins vs. the Senators haven't been easy to come by. The last time the Oilers beat the Sens was March 14, 2004, while the last time the club won a game at Scotiabank Place was two years previous.

"They're highly skilled," defenceman Tom Gilbert said after the skate. "They've got guys that, if you turn the puck over, they're going to make plays and they're going to put pucks in the net.

"For us, we've got to limit the amount of turnovers that we have, we've got to get the puck moving up the ice, and use our speed the best that we can. Because when we're skating out there, it's a whole different game."

Despite the team's record, coach Renney is looking forward to this eastern road trip.

"It's all real good for our guys to experience this," he said. "It's a good acid test for our team on a number of different fronts, whether it's just playing the game or the fan support obviously in these buildings, the media attention naturally.

"The bottom line is that we have to play a game plan that will allow us to have success and each and every guy has to pay attention to it."


Despite surrendering the opening goal early in the first, the Oilers battled back with four straight -- including three in the third -- to upset the Senators 4-1 Monday night.

Linemates Andrew Cogliano, Gilbert Brule, and Dustin Penner joined forces for two goals, while Tom Gilbert got his fourth of the season and Taylor Hall added an empty-netter. Goalie Martin Gerber stopped 22 for the win.

Author: Jen Sharpe |, with files from Tom Gazzola & Bob Stauffer



The morning after defeating the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 at Rexall Place, the Oilers were back on that same ice, trying to build on the effort that resulted in two points.

The full team participated in practice, including goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin and forward Ales Hemsky, who are both suffering from groin injuries.

Head coach Tom Renney does not expect the pair to play in Saturday's game vs. San Jose.

Khabi needs a couple of real good practices and some good feedback with T.D. (Forss, athletic therapist) and Freddy (Chabot, goalie coach) before we make a determination there," Renney explained.
"[Hemsky's] got a little bit of a groin thing going and we're going to be really cautious there as well. So I don't see Hemmer in tomorrow."


Yesterday's win was a step in the right direction for the Oilers, who had dropped six of their last seven games, often by a large margin.

Though Renney admits the game "wasn't  a masterpiece," he was pleased the players were rewarded for their good intentions.

"I'm happy for our guys. They care, they want to do well, they want to play instinctive and spontaneous and high-paced hockey and do all the right things. You might get a taste of that a little bit when you're in our room, seeing what kind of a group they are, but on a daily basis as a coaching staff we sure do.

"They're trying to do the right thing here. Over time you can kind of get picked apart if you're not what everybody wants you to be, and having said that, I think these guys have done a really good job of sticking with it," the coach added.


With the exception of veteran goalie Martin Gerber, the Oilers who really stood out in last night's game were among the youngest on the ice. Not only did Jordan Eberle set up Taylor Hall for the game-winning goal, Gilbert Brule notched the opening goal and Theo Peckham provided an important injection of physicality.

"You score on your first shift, it's just a good feeling obviously. Then we score the next shift, obviously even better, and we just got going from there," Brule recalled. "We were rolling and we were skating hard and playing well."

Peckham credits persistence and hard work for his improved performance.

Theo Peckham

"Coming into this year, I of course wanted to prove that I can play in this league, but I also wanted to prove that I could do it on a nightly basis," the 23-year-old said. "For my type of player or for any type of player, that's really important and it's something I try to be good at."

Peckham's contributions have not gone unnoticed by the coaching staff.

"I just love it when guys grin after they've rocked somebody. I think that tells you how much that they enjoy that," Renney said. "You want to make sure you do it on a consistent basis because we need that look in this line-up from a number of people, if we can get it.

"We can't get pushed around, we can't get pushed out of games. It'll be a good challenge for us tomorrow night."


The Oilers will hope to see more of the same from Peckham, Brule, Hall & Eberle when they take on the Sharks Saturday night. Single game tickets are still available, so click the link below to secure a seat.


Author: Jen Sharpe |, with files from Jack Michaels

View More