| MARATHON SESSION |
The Oilers' four-day gap between games was originally scheduled for a team-building/sponsorship golf trip to California, but with only one win in their last 12 games, the club went back to basics Friday afternoon in the first of two intense days of "mini-camp."
After a lengthy video session, the team took to the ice at 12:30 and skated for an hour, focusing on one-on-one and two-on-one battles. Zambonis then resurfaced the ice, and the players reported back for round two which concluded in a bag skate.
In the locker room at the end of the day, it was clear that both players and coaches are focused on the task at hand: turning things around quickly to salvage the season.
"We started from scratch: we had a workout, we had plenty of video today to go over the things that we've been not doing so well that has made us unsuccessful during this stretch," Tom Gilbert said. "What we get from this is hopefully get a clean slate and just review the stuff that's been hurting us these past few games."
"I don't think anybody would be feeling too good if we were down south enjoying ourselves right now when other teams are getting better," fellow defenceman Sheldon Souray added. "We're where we're at and we need to be getting better, so we'll use these days to our advantage. We'll keep a good attitude and keep it light these two days, and come Sunday, Monday, Tuesday it's back to work."
The day was long and exhausting, but Souray emphasized that the team needs to keep its spirits up.
"The bottom line is coming here to work and learn every day, but that doesn't mean we can't still have fun," he said. "We have a few days in between games to stay loose and we can still do some team bonding here at home and just make the best of it."
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
Head Coach Pat Quinn seemed pleased with what he saw from his troops Friday.
"They worked hard. There's lots about this team that I can't complain about -- their work habits seem pretty good, in general on practice days our spirits seem fine, it's just during hockey games when we seem to get down on ourselves badly and make those horrendous, individual sort of mistakes that change the results from what you plan on."
This weekend's mission is to "find out why it's happening" and correct it, and the coaches plan on doing that with a lot of practice.
"I've always believe in practice. When you rehearse for success then you've got a chance for succes," Quinn said.
THE LIFE OF BRYAN
One man who is learning a lot about Oilers practices is goalie Bryan Pitton. The Oilers opted to send Devan Dubnyk back to Springfield this weekend so he could get a few games in with the Falcons, and as a result, the club recalled Pitton from the ECHL's Stockton Thunder for the third time this season.
|Call-up goalie Bryan Pitton keeps his eye on the puck during Friday's mini-camp at Rexall Place. (Photo by Steve Taylor | edmontonoilers.com) |
"I'm starting to feel a little more comfortable, but I've still got the jitters whenever I show up to the rink and when I'm on the ice," the young goalie said. "It's just excitement. You waited your whole life to be here and now that you're finally here it's a dream come true. It's nice practicing and sitting on the bench but I think the dream will come true once I actually get into a game. I'm not sure if that's going to happen but I got to bed every night and pray that it does."
The closest PItton has come to playing in the NHL was January 2 in San Jose, when he backed up Jeff Deslauriers. The experience was "incredible," he says, especially since some fans from Stockton made the drive to watch him in warm-up.
"Warm-up was probably the neatest part, being out there with all the guys and taking shots from them," Pitton remembers. "It was neat to know I had some support in the stands and I had some back at home as well."
Pitton isn't sure how long he'll be in Edmonton, but he's hoping to be able to dress for Tuesday's game vs. Nashville.
"It would be nice to get a game in, especially a home game on Tuesday, it would be nice to stick around for that but I'm not quite sure what's going on yet," he added. "But so far it's been fun, I've been enjoying the ride, and hopefully it goes a bit longer than the last few times."
Author: Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com