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 EASTERN FRONT
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 | edmontonoilers.com, with files from Bob Stauffer