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THE TEAM TODAY: The Final Countdown

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers


Edmonton, AB - It appears as though a 2-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings and an ensuing off day was enough to stir the Oilers’ anger. In a spirited, 45-minute practice at Rexall Place Wednesday, emotions ran high the club pounded one another with an up-tempo and emotion-inducing session.

Just ask Ryan Whitney and Darcy Hordichuk. Engaging in one-on-one drills and sending each other to the ice in the process with bone-crunching hits, chirping was the norm as smiles and cheers made way for a more serious tone.

It didn’t end there either. Linus Omark, routinely healthy scratched, annoyed Andy Sutton to the point where a response was in order; it came in the way of a strong two-hander across the leg, but that was the end of it.

“It was okay,” Head Coach Tom Renney said, noting that he expects to see that level of compete on a day-in, day-out basis. “They're trying to work hard and do the right things, and every once in a while a reminder here and there from a coaching perspective. I didn't see anything extraordinary.”

It was quite appropriate, considering that no one dressed in orange and blue was happy with the team’s outing in Los Angeles. The score was one thing, but another political message was the story. Head Coach Tom Renney’s post-game press conference included a comment that cost him $10,000 to the NHL.

“I’d really like to comment on that,” he said as he addressed the media post-practice at Rexall Place. “I’d really like to comment on that, too,” he added, laughing, about getting his players to chip in a dime or two.

“I've thought about (throwing) water bottles and sticks, but I've never gone there. I stood up on the bench and ripped a referee and did all that kind of stuff (during the 1996-97 season in Vancouver). Dougie MacLean did the same on his bench, I got the severe warning and reprimand and Dougie didn't get anything. Welcome to the league. It wasn't a smart move on my part.

“I'll let it go,” Renney added about the whole situation. “It's over. We had a four-minute power-play that we didn't do a lot with.”


While the Oilers were most concerned with adding a physical dimension to practice, a healthy body was able to escape unscathed as he looks to return to the lineup. Jeff Petry, who missed the team’s latest road trip with a facial contusion, was back and looking no worse for wear.

“I’m doing better now,” said the 24-year-old. “The swelling went down tremendously and I found out that I didn't have a concussion, so all he precautions turned out. It was good to know.”

With 8:21 on the clock during the second period vs. Los Angeles last week, an Anze Kopitar clearing attempt rattled off Petry’s head at the blueline. Head Athletic Therapist T.D. Forss ushered him to the locker room and to determine whether or not he was concussed. He wasn’t, but he still needed time to recover.

“Yeah it was (scary),” Petry explained. “It clipped my visor, right below the eye, so I wasn't sure if anything was fractured. It went off the glass and I couldn't get my hand up in time. We did the precautionary things, got the CT scan and everything was good. The visor helped out a little bit. If it hit directly, I don't know what the situation would have been.

“As far as I know, I'd like to be in the lineup,” he added. “Ultimately it's up to the coaching staff and trainers. I've got all my teeth still, so knock on wood. I want to make it back for these last two and have a strong end (to the season).”

“I'll talk to T.D. and see how he feels,” Renney said. “Somebody does (have to go back to the AHL). I don't think it matters who.”

While Petry is ready to go, others aren’t and likely won’t be until next season. Corey Potter (concussion), Theo Peckham (concussion) and Ladislav Smid (neck) weren’t present and, with only a pair remaining on the schedule, it’s not likely that they’ll be back.

“Status quo, I think,” Renney said. “I would question whether or not either of them will play again this year.”


With Ben Eager and Linus Omark looking to be healthy scratches tomorrow night -- as neither participated in line rushes today -- a re-promotion is in order. Teemu Hartikainen, who scored the Oilers’ only two goals in Anaheim on Sunday, will get another chance to skate with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle.

“He's a strong kid,” Renney said. “I like that he's on the body, goes to the net and plays a heavier game. He needs to use that over top of his stick for possession and puck possession -- and continuing to be strong over top of it to get it to the net, because he does have a good, heavy shot. He's certainly comfortable with what we expect out of a player of his ilk. It's arrow-up for sure.

"He's got things to work on, as they all do.

“Again, speed is an issue but it's not fatal. It's something he needs to work on. If he's got that, it's all about getting ice and creating opening for these guys by playing in the tough areas."

-- Ryan Dittrick, - Follow me on Twitter | @ryandittrick


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