With Tuesday's embarrassing 5-0 loss to Phoenix fresh in their minds, the Oilers were all business in an aggressive practice at Rexall Place Wednesday afternoon.
The skate wasn't without some drama: a pair of collisions rattled the boards, a stick to Ladislav Smid's face drew blood, and Ales Hemsky limped off the ice with an undisclosed leg injury.
"I don't think it's major but he had to leave because he did something. I don't know what it is," head coach Tom Renney later explained.
LOOKING FOR CONSISTENCY
The mood was somber and serious on the ice and off, and both players and coaches agreed the team's effort, performance, and results need to improve immediately.
"Definitely not a lot of happy faces today," defenceman Kurtis Foster said after practice. "A lot of guys are disappointed with the way we played yesterday, especially after the way we played in Anaheim, where we got a good road win and we played hard."
"If you're giving up five goals against in a game, you're never going to win a hockey game, especially in today's NHL," forward Colin Fraser added. "It seems like we take one step forward, play good against Anaheim, and then think it's going to be easy the next day. And we can't have that mentality because every team's good.
"You've got to bring your business every day, be happy about the win that night but put it behind you, move forward, and be good again the next game."
The Oilers' struggles with consistency aren't new, and Renney continues to look for a solution to the issue.
"I thought we played pretty good in Anaheim and I thought we played pretty good at home here against Phoenix, as much as we let them come back and tie us," he said. "I thought we might have been able to kind of round the corner there, but this appears to be a big corner."
The coach isn't pushing the panic button, however.
"Nobody said we were going to win the Stanley Cup this year," Renney said. "It is a work in progress, and the one thing I don't want to see happen here is people bail out on this, on our expectation of becoming a good team as the season goes on.
"It's not going to happen over night and we've shown some touches where we've been good, and we've shown some times when we haven't been very good, and I don't think that should come as a surprise to anybody."
On his staff's coaching strategy, Renney was clear: "We're still nurturing, we're still supportive, we're still demanding. When we need to be, we draw a hard line. And that's what this year's going to be all about."
The Oilers will apply today's lessons tomorrow vs. the Avalanche. Limited seats remain, so follow the link below to secure your spot in the stands.
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BYE BYE, BELLE
|Shawn Belle |
Earlier Wednesday, the Oilers announced they have assigned defenceman Shawn Belle to their AHL affiliate in Oklahoma City. Belle was originally recalled when Smid was forced out of the line-up due to a concussion four games ago.
Read more: Oilers assign Shawn Belle
In the latest edition of our fan question series, John of Edmonton submitted a question for Gilbert Brule.
JOHN: "You're a guy who can play in a variety of roles. Whether you get put on the third line to be an energy player or more of an offensive role (including powerplay time), you seem to adapt well. Do you prepare any differently for games when the coaching staff mixes the lines or changes your responsibilities?
|Gilbert Brule |
GILBERT: "I always prepare pretty much the same way. If I'm on the third line, I obviously know before the game, and you just accept that role. Whatever they want me to do, I try to provide energy no matter what role I'm playing in -- I'm playing a two-way game, basically.
It's tough when the lines are changing here and there, but you definitely have to adapt quick and you just have to find that chemistry. For some players, it's not always going to come right away, it might take a couple of games."
Fill out the form on the right to submit a question for one of the Oilers. We will ask one of the submitted questions after the next practice and will post the answer in the next Team Today.
Author: Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com, with files from Jack Michaels