The Oilers left Denver bright and early Monday morning, arriving in Canada's Capital city by 3pm. The team headed straight to the rink for an off-day practice, which started out with a creative drill orchestrated by veterans Steve Staios and Ethan Moreau.
Gathered at center ice, the players all switched sticks and played two games of shinny shooting the opposite way. Mike Comrie impressed the media with his ability to play right handed, while most of the other players looked slightly clumsy and awkward.
Although the lighthearted stick work display was taking it to the extreme, the Oilers have been no strangers to changes of other kinds this season. Illness and injury have impacted almost a dozen players on the team, and Monday was no different.
After being hit a few times Sunday night in Colorado -- including once in the face by the puck -- young defenceman Taylor Chorney took to the ice but quickly retired back to the locker room.
Head Coach Pat Quinn later announced that he was suffering from a sore ankle. "Later on in the game, he went down and someone fell on him, so there's a sprain in the ankle. He tried it but wasn't able to finish or even go out to practice."
Forward Robert Nilsson also missed practice. "Apparently he got hit in the head someplace during the game and has been tested by our trainers," Quinn explained. "On the plane he seemed fine, right about the acceptable stage, but after we got off the flight, apparently the numbers escalated to the point where he's feeling nauseous."
SMID & SOURAY SKATE
With Chorney and Nilsson questionable for tomorrow's game, the Oilers got some good news from Ladislav Smid and Sheldon Souray. Both players participated in practice for the first time since falling ill and suffering a concussion respectively.
"We're going to see in the morning where [Smid] is," Quinn said. "He's feeling better. I didn't talk to him after his practice but we put him up front for getting a little more skating for him ... Hopefully he might be ready for tomorrow and we're open to having him come in."
As for Souray, he said that he's happy to be skating with the team again. "It felt good. It takes a little while to get back and get your timing and start seeing things ... I'm just happy to get out there and get a little bit of rhythm and see where I'm at.
"I've still got a ways to go before I get in game shape, but it's just a big lift emotionally and mentally to get back out there." THE MONTH OF MOVEMBER CONTINUES
Brule points out the location of his nearly invisible 'stache.
The Oilers gamefaces are getting a little more grizzly as the road trip wears on, thanks in part to the Movember fundraiser. Nine players and three trainers are currently growing moustaches in support of prostate cancer, and we took updated photos of their progress today.
Notable 'stache news: Nine days in, Gilbert Brule is struggling to show any growth, while Zack Stortini and underdog Taylor Chorney are neck-and-neck in the cheesy category. Recent callups Liam Reddox and Ryan Potulny deserve honourable mentions for their excellent efforts both on the ice and above their lips.
After leaving Edmonton Saturday morning, the Oilers arrived in Denver in the early afternoon and prompty headed to the Big Bear Ice Den for practice.
With a few hours of headstart after being called up, forwards Liam Reddox and Ryan Potulny were already dressed and ready to skate when the team arrived.
Due to various injuries, Ales Hemsky, Shawn Horcoff, and Jean-Francois Jacques were not on the plane to Denver, and Head Coach Pat Quinn shuffled the lines to incorporate Reddox and Potulny.
Dustin Penner, Sam Gagner, and Patrick O'Sullivan skated on the top line during practice, while Mike Comrie, Gilbert Brule, and Robert Nilsson formed line number two.
Reddox filled the right spot with Andrew Cogliano and Fernando Pisani, and Ryan Potulny inserted himself between Ethan Moreau and Zack Stortini.
Denis Grebeshkov and Tom Gilbert, Jason Strudwick and Steve Staios, and Taylor Chorney and Lubomir Visnovsky formed the defensive pairings.
Defenceman Ladislav Smid is on the trip but continues to suffer from flu-like symptoms and did not skate. Sheldon Souray did not skate with the team but did stretch his legs on the ice after everyone had left. Assistant Coach Kelly Buchberger guided him through some skating drills.
Reddox and Potulny said they were both surprised about being called up from the team's AHL affiliate in Springfield.
"I was definitely surprised when Coach (Rob) Daum called me into the office," Reddox said. "I've had sort of a slow start down there so it wasn't something I was expecting."
"I found out last night after our game that they had some guys injured up here and some guys are sick and things aren't going the way they want them to up here, so hopefully I can come up here and shake things up a little bit," Potulny added.
"I felt good down there (in Springfield). I'd like to offensively get going a little better, but I'm just playing a solid game and things will come. You can't grip your stick too hard. I'm not too worried about it -- I know that things will happen."
The Falcons are 6-5-2-1 through 14 games so far this season. Potulny has three goals and eight points, while Reddox has posted three goals and four points.
PISANI CUTS PRACTICE SHORT
Midway through Saturday's practice, forward Fernando Pisani got caught up in a collision and promptly left the ice. Pat Quinn later confirmed that Pisani was cut on the play and sent to the hospital for stitches.
"I wasn't sure why he left," Quinn admitted. "I saw him go down in the corner there and I kinda thought that maybe he's twinged his back again. But turns out that he got cut on the play and he's gone for some stitches and we think he'll be fine." Author: Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com
The Oilers met for one last practice as they prepare for their long upcoming road trip starting in Denver on Sunday night. Khabibulin earned a much needed day off for rest today but will start the road trip off against the Avalanche. With the Oilers dropping six of their last seven games, most players would agree that this road trip is coming at a good time.
"Sometimes it works in your favor when you get on the road. When you can get the guys together and get more of a positive energy surrounding our team," said Captain Ethan Moreau. "It's worked to our advantage in the past and hopefully that's the case."
The Oilers will aim on getting back to the basics and as Quinn said today. "Go in with the tools you have and win the battle that way. That's what we have to do, we have to figure that part out."
"It's been a rough couple games here the last little while. It'll be nice to get back on the road and just get back to a simple game and making sure we do the little things well and do them right," Fernando Pisani said.
"At home you try to get too fancy and too cute. That's not necessarily the best way to play. You have to get ugly goals and have to get the dirty goals and throw pucks at the net and hope for the best."
ILLNESS & INJURY UPDATE
Other than Khabibulin who did not attend practice today, there were seven other players absent due to injury or illness: Shawn Horcoff (shoulder), Ales Hemsky (shoulder), Ladislav Smid (sick), J-F Jacques (back) plus Sheldon Souray, Ryan Stone & MarcPouliot.
"We've been trying to figure out who's going and who's not going," said Pat Quinn. "Apparently Horcoff maybe, for the middle of the trip to get some practices and Souray might come along to get some practices. Those things are being decided today."
"Smid is apparently stronger today as far as his illness is concerned," Quinn said. "Possibly he'll go but maybe not for the first game. Jacques I don't even know on him, we'll have to find out where he is. Hemsky could be day to day. We have to figure out what's going on there too. He's having a little trouble with his shoulder. Stone is not coming on this trip."
"We had nine names that we were listing off this morning trying to figure out whether their going to be with us or not with us. I guess we'll see who shows up at the plane tomorrow," said Coach Quinn. Author: Kristi Hennessy | edmontonoilers.com
The Oilers returned from their short two game road trip and aren't wasting any time on getting back to work to find a much needed win. Mike Comrie and Steve Staios both took to the ice this morning which is very positive for the Oilers. Sheldon Souray was also scheduled to skate today, however not with the team. With Smid home sick today, and a few others questionable, will they have enough guys for tomorrow?
"We still have numbers. The question mark is Comrie, if he's ready to go. That was his first full practice in quite awhile. He seemed to get through it alright," said Quinn. "Right now I'm assuming he's going to be fine for us, but if that's not the report we get then we'll look to be calling someone up."
"I've started to feel a little better every day. The last couple of days have been a vast improvement," said Mike Comrie. "I know a lot of guys have had the flu bug but just because of my asthma its been a little harder to get better as quickly as I'd like to have. Its been almost two weeks now. The last couple days I have been better. I haven't been coughing as much and I'm able to catch my breathe and haven't had a fever," he said. STAIOS GETS A FULL PRACTICE
Staios finally got a full practice in this morning and says he feels good. He talked a little bit about how hard it is to be out of the lineup and how eager he is to get back in and bring the energy and intensity level up for the Oilers.
"Everybody is working hard and trying to do the right things. We just haven't been able to get it done. Hopefully we can start to raise the intensity and start getting some wins," said Staios.
"I feel energized again. You realize how much you miss the game when you're sitting out. You realize how privileged you are to be playing in the league and I'm really excited about getting back in," he said.
HORCOFF OUT WITH SHOULDER INJURY
"Right now it looks like we'll move Gagner in, who had a game with Penner and Hemsky before and maybe the line we go with for tomorrow. In the meantime, Cogliano and Brule will fill in the spots and away we go." said coach Pat Quinn.
"It's a shoulder injury and I won't be playing tomorrow. It's day to day right now but not tomorrow for sure. It just needs to be rested and it will heal sooner rather than later but its going to take a little bit," said Horcoff.
With the absence of Shawn Horcoff, some of the other players such as Gagner, Brule and Cogliano will have to step it up a notch to fill the void.
"Horcoff obvioulsy brings a lot of elements to our team. He's a guy who can beat you at a lot of ways and he's been a huge part of our team," said Sam Gagner. "Even if he hasn't put up the amount of points that he's accustomed to, he's a huge hole for us to fill. At the same time, guys have to step up if he is out for any extended period of time." Author: Kristi Hennessy | edmontonoilers.com