| HELLO OHIO |
A delayed flight out of Toronto and daylight savings time change Saturday night meant the Oilers were a tired and weary bunch prior to Sunday's practice at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
But once on the ice, the team got down to business for a 45-minute skate in the Blue Jackets practice facility, which adjoins the main Nationwide ice surface.
With the exception of Fernando Pisani, who also didn't skate Saturday night in Toronto, a full contingent was present for practice.
Head Coach Pat Quinn slightly modified the lines, with Chris Minard switching places with Robert Nilsson. As such, Minard skated with Ryan Potulny and Zack Stortini, while Nilsson skated with Sam Gagner and Marc Pouliot.
FOCUS ON FINISHING STRONG
With two tough losses in their recent memory and an early summer in the near future, the Oilers are focusing on staying positive and closing the season with some solid performances.
"Everybody understands our situation now, but even if we weren't in this 'rebuilding phase' let's call it, and we were in a good playoff spot, we would still be trying to make our team better, to help the individual players improve. And as long as they're willing to put the time in -- and they are -- then we're all in a good place," Associate Coach Tom Renney explained.
"I almost feel sorry for them, but you can't let that creep into what's going on there either," he added. "They're trying, there's no question about that. We've had circumstances that have really forced us to play above and beyond what we're maybe capable of as individuals and maybe even as a team, who's to say."
THE COACHING FACTOR
The risk of coasting through the final 14 games is great, and Renney says it's up to the coaches to provide a good example and continue to get the most out of the players.
"We have to be the source for a lot of things, and often times that's confidence, it's work habits, it's a good attitude, it's being professional," Renney explained. "This is adversity, as the cliche would suggest, and we have to find ways to overcome and persevere through that."
According to the coach, the tactics are different for every player.
"Everybody's wired a little different, and again it comes to the coach as to how you might steer people, help them out with some good dialogue, some feedback. You'd like to think you've got some wisdom you can share with those guys, but there's nothing like experience. There comes a point in time where talking about it doesn't matter anymore. They've got to get out there and just live through it."
One player who might be under some extra pressure Monday night vs. the Blue Jackets is Gilbert Brule. Brule was drafted by the Jackets in 2005 and played two full seasons with the club before being traded to Edmonton for Raffi Torres in 2008.
|Gilbert Brule |
"It's always nice," Brule said about returning to Columbus. "I started my career here and the fans were great here and obviously I want to play a good game when I come here."
Columbus isn't the only city Brule wants to play well in, and he emphasized that his desire to score and win will remain strong through to the end of the season.
"I have personal goals, I'm sure everyone on our team has their own goals, but obviously I want to help our team win. Even though we're still out, I want to play for pride and still put the puck in the back of the net."
Author: Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com
|The Oilers receive some instruction from Associate Coach Tom Renney during practice at the Nationwide Arena practice facility in Columbus, OH on Sunday, March 14, 2010. |