Back to square one: just not in the standings

Robin Brownlee
January 11 2010 03:24PM

The Edmonton Oilers obviously don't get a do-over on the first 44 games they played this season, but they will approach their final 38 games as a second season and a new start after last weekend's mini-camp.

At least that was the spin, and probably the most sensible approach, at Rexall Place today as coach Pat Quinn and the Oilers looked ahead instead of back. With a record of 16-23-5 for 37 points, it only makes sense.

"We are on the journey and the journey hasn't gone the way we planned," understated Quinn. "You can't forget that part of it because there's a bit of a mountain in front of us as far as gathering points and trying to achieve the goals we started out with.

"We'll be re-establishing our goals. We're going to play by the old maxim, one shift, one period and we'll see if we get where we're doing little things well and maybe big things will happen that are good big things."

While many fans are getting behind the push for the Dive For Five, Quinn's focus, as you would expect, is elsewhere.

"You have to scrape yourself up and be in the fray," Quinn said. "That's what we have to do. It's challenging ourselves. Now, we may still not get to the results we want, but we have to continue to be better."

With a two-day golf junket cancelled in favour of the mini-camp, players put the best possible shine on things.

"They were good," Dustin Penner said of workouts Friday and Saturday. "It kind of re-set the computers.

"We spent two, six-hour days at the rink, with an hour of video each day, chalk talk on the board. I think it was beneficial. You would be hard-pressed to find anybody who would say it wasn't."

Work smarter not harder

If hard work on its own was the answer, Shawn Horcoff would be an 80-point player and the darling of Oilers fans no matter how much money he's taking home every two weeks.

Obviously, it's not that simple. Quinn talked about "hard work" in the context of the weekend and what he hopes the benefits wills be.

"Emotion is a big part of this game," he said. You can have the negative ones that crop up where you're frustrated because nothing good's going for you. "So maybe the answer is, 'I'll try harder.'

"Well, thinking that you're trying harder, sometimes it increases your frustration because it's not effort that you needed. You might have needed smarts or you might have needed courage or you might have needed some of the other things that are necessary for hockey players to be successful.

"There is that increasing level of frustration that gets people to give up a little bit on themselves. That's the biggest fight you have as far as both the coaches and the players in that room.

"The challenge is to stay on the task here because it is about them. It is individual. They're the ones who want to be good hockey players. They have to challenge themselves daily. To push that."

This and that

-- Having missed all the fun with Sheldon Souray Friday, one television reporter who shall remain unnamed went looking for more of the same NTC talk from Lubomir Visnovsky. He lobbed all sorts of grenades Visnovsky's way with a barrage of loaded questions, but got no sniff.

On the positive side, Visnovsky took another twirl on his twisted ankle today and should be a go against Nashville. That'll leave the Oilers with seven blueliners to choose from for the first time in awhile.

-- Aside from doing a lot of 4-on-4 work early in practice, the Oilers worked a lot on their 17th-ranked power play, with two full units working the drills.

One unit had Gilbert Brule with Sam Gagner and Patrick O'Sullivan up front with Denis Grebeshkov and Visnovsky on the points. The other fivesome was Robert Nilsson, Horcoff, Penner, Tom Gilbert and Souray. Neither one did a lot to impress the coach.

-- Marc Pouliot's on-again, off-again comeback from pubitis was on again today as he skated the full practice without any apparent ill effects. I'm guessing he's a week or 10 days and at least a couple of games in the AHL for conditioning from returning.

-- Mike Comrie took the ice with skating coach Steve Serdachny after practice today. No firm word on a return, but you'd have to think that Comrie will be in line for an AHL conditioning stint when he gets healthy.

-- Quinn has liked Andrew Cogliano's effort and compete level, if not his results offensively, lately and suggested he might look at getting him more ice time in the next little while.

-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every Wednesday and Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.

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A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#101 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
January 12 2010, 01:09PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

I know you didn't. I think the onus is on the person spreading the information -- via Twitter, news story, TV clip or by whatever means -- to credit the person who provided the information. In this case, that would be Tencer who should be crediting Stauffer.

It's pretty basic stuff. When you write a story and, for example, the GM says he isn't making a trade you write: "GM Steve Tambellini says . . ." blah blah blah.

I didn't realize that Tencer is one that doesn't give props. Does he do this often or was this a slip up?

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#102 Robin Brownlee
January 12 2010, 03:38PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

I didn't realize that Tencer is one that doesn't give props. Does he do this often or was this a slip up?

I don't know. I don't follow Twitter or subscribe to it. I only mentioned it because I was there when Bob got the info from management and then I read the reference to Tencer's Twitter later.

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#103 Travis Dakin
January 12 2010, 04:01PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

On Cogliano: Not really. The person who put the bogus rumour to rest is Bob Stauffer. He asked a member of management about the possibility this morning and got a text back saying "no way."

Bob mentioned the reply and Tencer did his thumb-typing thing and put it out on Twitter. I guess that's the fastest way of getting it out there -- what do I know, I'm a dinosaur -- but the the info comes from Stauffer.

The last time we heard about Stauffer getting one of those texts..... uh yeah haha.

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#104 Paq Twinn
January 12 2010, 04:08PM
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David S wrote:

At the risk of being the latest Captain Obvious around here, wouldn't them making the playoffs from where we are right now mean that this team is far from the definition of "suck". I know its pretty unlikely, but it would make for one of the best sports stories of the year. And you know what? If they made the playoffs, I'd be cheering my ass off for them because the accomplishment would be worth it, not to mention that they might very well make a round or two.

Taylor Hall or Eberle are going to be difference makers for us MAYBE in three years. You might as well get used to the suck and cheer for a bunch of guys who (hopefully) will be busting tail from here to the end of the season. Then hope that Oilers management gets the job done this summer and starts this damn rebuild for real.*

*Oh man. Sometimes I crack myself up.

In some ways you are right. But if this team miraculously made the playoffs, it would be a fluke, not because we don't suck. The Oilers have many of the right pieces in place, just too many wrong ones. In the end I'm completely satisfied with 25th-30th in the league this year and watching to see how management will go about rebuilding this franchise to the glory we all deserve as fans. If done properly I don't think it will take more than 3 years before we're back in the playoffs.....consistantly.

p.s. Don't get me wrong, I will still cheer win, lose or draw....oh wait, there aren't draws anymore.

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#105 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 13 2010, 10:06AM
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Paq Twinn wrote:

In some ways you are right. But if this team miraculously made the playoffs, it would be a fluke, not because we don't suck. The Oilers have many of the right pieces in place, just too many wrong ones. In the end I'm completely satisfied with 25th-30th in the league this year and watching to see how management will go about rebuilding this franchise to the glory we all deserve as fans. If done properly I don't think it will take more than 3 years before we're back in the playoffs.....consistantly.

p.s. Don't get me wrong, I will still cheer win, lose or draw....oh wait, there aren't draws anymore.

I'm pretty sure you can't "fluke" your way to 55 - 60 points in 38 games.

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