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The Team Today: Moreau skates, Pouliot out

by Kristi Hennessy / Edmonton Oilers


The Oilers took to the ice at Millenium Place this morning after the rewarding 5-4 shootout win over the Dallas Stars last night at Rexall Place.

Jeff Deslauriers was at the rink at least 30 minutes early working with goaltender coach Fred Chabot working on stopping pucks behind the net and banking passes off the boards. 

Captain Ethan Moreau is back on the ice after missing last night's game and says his ankle is feeling good.

"I've been on antibiotics and hooked up to IV for two days but I feel good. My ankle felt good, my energy felt good, so we'll  see tomorrow." Moreau tells us.

"It wasn't an injury, it wasn't a shot, it was just an irritation that got  infected and spread a bit but  I think we're on top of it and it feels good." he said.

They started practice with a lot of energy and worked on picking up the puck behind their own net and breaking out into the opponents end.

They also worked on their speed up the sides and taking shots from the top of the circle. They ran plays down low, behind the net and worked on winning crucial board battles.


The lines were a little different today for a few reasons. Marc Pouliot, Dustin Penner, Steve Staios, Sheldon Souray did not skate today. Quinn explains.

"Today was a result of a few guys missing. When we came to practice there were a couple more that I didn't anticipate so we sort of mix-bagged it to give people a chance to work with someone else."
Quinn commented after practice.

"Pouliot seems to have reinjured himself, Penner needed some work, Staios had his bell rung so  I don't know where that's going to be yet, a couple other guys had some pulls and that sort of thing. That was more the reason for the line changes today." he said.

Quinn had Horcoff, Hemsky and Moreau together, O'Sullivan, Gagner and Jacques together to form the top two lines. Nilsson, Brule and Stone on the next line and Strudwick Comrie and Cogliano making the last line.

Oilers will practice again tomorrow morning to get set to host the Calgary Flames again tomorrow night.

Author: Kristi Hennessy |


After having an off-ice workout day yesterday, the Oilers took to the ice for a long practice at 10:00 am this morning.

Ethan Moreau did not skate today due to a flare up in his ankle that has been bothering him in the past couple days.

The Oilers dressed seven defensemen including Steve Staios with Sheldon Souray, Denis Grebeshkov with Tom Gilbert, Lubomir Visnovsky together with Ladislav Smid and Jason Strudwick switching off.

Skating together on the top line was J-F Jacques, Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky. In what appeared to be the second line, the coaches had Ryan Stone, Mike Comrie and Patrick O’Sullivan together. 

Third and forth lines saw Dustin Penner, Gilbert Brule and Andrew Cogliano together while Robert Nilsson, Sam Gagner and Zack Stortini created the forth line. Steve MacIntyre and Marc Pouliot subbed in and out for most of the practice.

The team gathered in groups of five and worked on their front hand and back hand passing skills. They also worked on their give and go speed and long breakaway passes up the middle.

"I was looking for balance coming in. If (Penner) is considered one of our top players, I didn't want to put all three one one line.  There are a lot of coaches in the league that like to have matchups that take out your best players.  A way to stop that for me is to have some sort of balance in it. Penner and Brule seem to play quite well together. I've got them killing penalties and they do that quite well too. If we can get to where we have three or four lines that we can play and don't have to worry about them, then that's a bonus for us." Pat  Quinn comments on Gilbert Brule playing with Dustin Penner.

The team will skate again tomorrow morning as they await Mike Modano and the Dallas Stars. Check in tomorrow to see what Quinn has decided for lines as the lines shown today are more than likely to change for tomorrow. Game time is 7:30pm here at Rexall Place.


Marc Pouliot got a head start on the ice to see how his injury was coming along. Pouliot remains on the IR list and has not played since September 24th against Tampa Bay.

"I felt pretty good out there, I skated with Steve Serdachny, power skating coach then I jumped into practice and it went pretty well so I'm pretty happy." Pouliot said after practice.

"Its my first practice with the team, its day to day and I don't think I'll play tomorrow. I feel good though so hopefully by the end of the week. We'll see tomorrow."

Author: Kristi Hennessy |


Pat Quinn chats in the dressing room

The Oilers did not take to the ice today, instead they took part in an off-ice workout as well as a team meeting.

"We play every second day other than today and we were looking for spots where we could give them a break," said head coach Pat Quinn. "We decided we didn't want to do a full day away so we brought them in to do some dryland."

Quinn was reluctant to give the team the entire day off, noting that training was important - particularly at this time of year.

"We wanted to target some areas during the season that we're on top of so in April we're not 'de-trained' due to a lack of certain areas of training."

Overall, Quinn was happy with the team's performance on Saturday but did acknowledge there was still a lot of work to do.

"We played a pretty good hockey team there and we competed hard. Those are the intangible things you do like," he said. "On the four goals we let in, we were directly responsible for each of them going into our night."


The slip-up by Nikolai Khabibulin, as unfortunate as it was for Oilers fans, was nothing new to coach Pat Quinn. When asked for a similar occurance, he didn't even have to dip that far back into the memory bank.

"In the Spengler Cup, I was with Canada's team and we were outplaying the host-team (HC Davos in the final game badly but we were doing the same thing. We allowed two weak goals on a five-on-five basis and
with 1:10 left in the game our goaltender overhandled the puck."

The goaltender was Justin Pogge and it was 2006.

"That night it was Justin and our second goalie there was (Oilers prospect Devan) Dubnyk. Maybe blame the coach for putting the wrong goalie in," Quinn chuckled.

The coach also reflected on the game in general and how results can swing from night to night.

"We were 10-1-3 to start the season then went into Montreal in a game for first place and were beat 9-0," he said, noting back when he was coaching the Flyers.

Quinn also talked about the Flyers team he had coached that went 35 games without a loss but prior to that had lost 6-0 to the Atlanta Flames in 1979-80.


After starting Saturday's game on the fourth line, Oilers pivot Sam Gagner worked his way up the lineup and contributed in a big way on the scoresheet.

"Sam did well. I'm still in the learn stage - and I said this before about Sam - he just didn't show what was expected based on what I learned about him. Last night he did."

Gagner started on the fourth line with Moreau and Stortini but eventually worked his way up the lineup.

"I wanted to play him against certain guys and he was having a good evening," Quinn remarked. "I made a switch to put him in a different area and next thing you know he puts one in the net," Quinn remarked. "But his play up until that time had been very satisfactory."

Gagner showed a lot of emotion on the evening. In addition to the fight, his goal was punctuated by a dive up against the glass.

"I love to play and I'm pretty passionate about it. I want to be a guy who his teammates can count on to produce some offence," said Gagner.

The skilled centre ignited the team with his fight against Craig Conroy and then scored to tie the game at 3-3 in the third period.

"It was a good feeling to get in the fight and score the goal but it's a tough way to lose. Hopefully we can bounce back from it," Gagner continued.

"I want this year to be a lot better year for me. I wanted to get out there and show some passion. Hopefully I can continue to improve as the season goes along here."


For the second straight day, head coach Pat Quinn was rocking the plaid shirt (see Exhibit A):

Author: Marc Ciampa |

Ethan Moreau at Friday's practice.

The saying goes that practice makes perfect, and with four straight days of practice behind them, the Oilers are eager to don their game jerseys and test that theory.

"A lot of practicing, and training camp was pretty intense, so it's good to have a game coming up and a stretch of games to start the season," Patrick O'Sullivan said. "That's why we're here, right? We want to play. I think everyone's really excited and looking forward to tomorrow."

Defenceman Denis Grebeshkov agrees. "We are all excited, we are all ready for opening night especially. We all feel pretty good about the season coming up."

According to Head Coach Pat Quinn, the practices have been useful but it's time to drop the puck.

"This whole process has been good. I've enjoyed it all, but I want to get to the games," Quinn said after meeting with his players and staff following practice. "The minute I don't have those sorts of feelings about hockey games, then I'll probably want to go to Palm Springs. I hadn't lost that feeling before and it's one of the reasons I wanted to come back (to coaching)."


After missing Thursday's practice due to an inflamed ankle, many assumed Ethan Moreau would miss the season opener vs. the Flames. But
the Oilers Captain fully participated in Friday's practice and will play in Saturday's game.

"It's great news," teammate Shawn Horcoff said. "He brings a lot to this line-up, on and off the ice, and he's obviously our leader. He got a little bit of a freaky injury there, but it looks like he'll be okay and ready to go."

When asked about Moreau's return and role with the club, Head Coach Pat Quinn praised the defensive forward for his contributions.

"Captains are character guys. Should they be your best player? I've never thought that way.

"Ethan is a guy that has been here a long time, he's established his worth as a hockey player. Has he been a 40, 30, 25 goal scorer? I don't think so very often, but does he show up every night, use his skills, is he a leader by example, does he care about his teammates? Those are the issues that make good captains in my opinion, not how many points they get on a given night," Quinn said.

Author: Jen Sharpe |


Another 90-minute Oilers practice was followed by an extensive Q & A with Head Coach Pat Quinn Thursday morning. The media peppered the coach with questions on a variety of topics, including specific players, special teams, injuries, and his assessment of the Oilers so far.


The Oilers' roster is over-stocked heading into Saturday's season-opener vs. Calgary, and the status of "bubble" player Robert Nilsson was among the first questions posed to Quinn after practice.

"We're still in that 'let's see' stage with people to establish who makes this a better team with whatever skillset they bring in," Quinn said. "Everyone here knows [Nilsson] has a really high level of puck-handling ability and skating, and he thinks pretty well too -- somewhat risky, and I'd say that risky element is what's keeping him off the chart right now.

We're stil trying to sort out those positions as far as who gets to start from one to 14. In fact, we've still got a couple of guys on the IR to consider here," the coach continued. "His training camp started slow but built pretty fast. So he might not be in Saturday, but he might be. It depends on Ethan."

Moreau did not skate in Thursday's practice. Quinn said that the Captain was suffering from an inflamed ankle and that it is being assessed day-to-day.


With Nikolai Khabibulin owning the position as Oilers starting goaltender, Quinn was questioned about his confidence in back-up Jeff Deslauriers and how he sees the goalies splitting the season.

"I am (confident in Deslauriers), although I haven't seen him play a lot. I like his size, I like his puck-stopping ability, I think he's a kid that has a big upside to him. And I'm anxious to see him play some more games, the games that count.

"We know Khabibulin's terrific, or at least we believe he is, and I don't want to wear him down either," Quinn continued. "We're looking forward to him coming in and playing anywhere between 40 and 60, and probably not a whole lot more, but we're open on that too."


With Saturday's season-opener just around the corner, Quinn was asked for his thoughts on the progress that's been made so far and his expectations for the early part of the season. Patience and commitment were the themes he emphasized.

"When you're trying to learn new things, it's not only just explaining, drawing on the board, and getting it set up, even showing video," Quinn explained. "It's taking it into the practice and then repeating it, and doing it consistently until it becomes part of your game. And that's what we're trying to do now is getting it into their minds through the drills, and I know from having been around a long time, that that is a process that you have to work on every day.

"The boys have worked hard to understand what we're trying to do as a concept of play that we think fits this group, and they worked hard to try to get to the positions that we're asking them to get to.

"There is no magic wand here," the coach emphasized. "We need 22 guys to accept what we're trying to do and make a commitment to that. So all these things don't come easily because we have 22 different guys -- some are thinking about themselves, some are thinking about their ice time. We've got to get them so they're thinking about their team, their teammates, and what we're trying to accomplish together.

"And do you ever sense satisfaction from a coaching standpoint and execution? I say, no, but we'll get to a point where we're executing well and getting good results and that's where you think your'e making some progress. It's hard to tell now because we haven't had a real game yet in terms of having them count, so our first measuring stick is Saturday night.

Author: Jen Sharpe |

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