| QUESTIONS FOR QUINN |
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.
NOD TO NILSSON
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."
MAGIC WANDS & MEASURING STICKS
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.