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The Team Today: Southern skate

by Jen Sharpe / Edmonton Oilers



Shortly after the Oilers arrived at the Thrashers' practice facility in the Atlanta suburbs, GM Steve Tambellini addressed the media outside the rink, providing an update on illnesses and injuries within the club.

Of all the updates he delivered, the most current involved forward Fernando Pisani, who flew home earlier in the day due to complications with colitis.

"He'll go see his doctor back in Edmonton," Tambellini explained. "I'm not sure what the next steps are for him, but his time away I would determine to be indefinite at this point."

Pisani's teammates were supportive of the ailing veteran.

"He's had a tough go and you can see the last couple weeks he hasn't been feeling 100%. You could see it in his face," Sheldon Souray said. "He's a big part of the team, but it's definitely best for him to get healthy and make sure he's 100%."

"He came back that one summer and was still figuring out how to deal with it --that was tough," Shawn Horcoff remembered. "But I think this time it's different. It's obviously not as severe. However he needs to deal with it. It's a matter of life and just your overall health."


Denis Grebeshkov

After suffering a knee injury in Wednesday's game in Buffalo, Denis Grebeshkov will be out until at least the end of the month. "Grebby looks like he'll be a few weeks for sure with an MCL sprain, but we'll probably know better after this week," Tambellini said.

Jean-Francois Jacques

Tambellini did not have any new information on Jacques, who has been out with back issues since the beginning of the month.

"Kenny (Lowe, Oilers Athletic Therapist) has told me that he's not as stiff, a little bit more flexibility than what he's had the last little while, so hopefully he's soon. We miss him."

Ryan Stone

According to Tambellini, another player who is making improvements is Ryan Stone, who suffered a knee injury October 19 vs. Vancouver. "He's moving along well. Kenny felt positive about him before we left. He's been on the ice and we've been really aggressive with him immediately after he was hurt, so hopefully soon. He's progressing well."

With Grebeshkov and Pisani back in Edmonton, and young d-man Taylor Chorney still out due to a sore ankle, Tambellini admitted that the team may call up a defenceman from Springfield.

"It's something that you can't control," he said. "There's some different things happening but you have to deal with it. We've dealt with a lot in this past month though."

Potentially adding to the injury issues, Patrick O'Sullivan left practice early. There is no news on his status.


After practice, Shawn Horcoff declared himself ready to play on Sunday.

"I'm going to play on for sure," he stated."I think I was kind of close last game, but still the extra four days would be beneficial. Like I said, I'm feeling better and better every day. I'll be ready to go."

Author: Jen Sharpe |


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."


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."


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.
Author: Jen Sharpe |


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.


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 |


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."


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 |
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