It’s amazing what a few wins will do for a team. The mood at Rexall this morning was shockingly loose. Hell, even Brownlee was smiling, but I digress. The players seemed relaxed and having fun, but every player you spoke with insisted this team needs to be better. They realize that they have to limit the scoring chances of the opposition, and try to generate more consistent offensive pressure.
The best news for the Oilers, and their fans, is that Daniel Sedin isn’t dressed tonight. The Sedin Sisters have owned the Oilers the past few years, especially on the PP.
Henrik Sedin has five points, all assists, in the three games since his brother broke his foot, and has eleven points to lead the Canucks.
The Canucks are 3-4 this year, and might be worse if it wasn’t for their powerplay. The Canucks have been outscored 13-12 at EV, but they have nine PP goals in 29 opportunities (31%).
The Oilers, however, have been winning games due to their solid five-on-five play. The Oilers have out-scored the opposition 22-13, with Dustin Penner and Gilbert Brule leading the way. Penner has the 3rd most points in the league while EV, and Brule is 4th.
Hemsky game-time decision
After spending the weekend in bed with the flu, Ales Hemsky was on the ice this morning. Hemsky, who is normally the first guy off the ice after practice, stayed out late doing some drills, to see his body would respond. He will be a game time decision; if he plays Robert Nilsson will come out. Right now it seems 50/50 if he’ll play.
Steve Staios did some light skating by himself, but he is still day-to-day, while Sheldon Souray is much farther away. You can’t rush a player back, and considering the style of play these two play, I’d guess the training staff will be very cautious before giving them the green light to return.
The good news is that the Oilers are getting a chance to see Taylor Chorney. Chorney could be the key, if Steve Tambellini thinks about moving one of his offensive defensemen. If they feel Chorney is ready to replace one of their top guys, then Tambellini might be less hesitant to make a move.
Quotes of the day
“I think Don Cherry brainwashed me. I have all the Rock ’em Sock ’em videos and he was always saying act like you’ve scored before.” But if the best goal scorer in the league can celebrate maybe I will try one soon.”
Penner had a laugh when we were talking about goal celebrations. Penner is very subdued in his celebrations, compared to Brule or Sam Gagner. I asked him if he thought about jumping up against the glass like many do, “I’m worried I might go through it,” he laughed.
Penner also said confidence is the biggest difference in his game. “Last year I wouldn’t have carried the puck into the zone and made plays, but now I feel I can make those plays. I just need to find out how to keep it going”.
“I can’t even find one right now," Jason Strudwick laughed when asked about getting that first tilt out of the way.
What about Derek Boogaard asking him last game? “I’d fight him, but if I did I’d be going into it looking for a tie, and that is no way to enter a fight.”
“He has the fastest hands I’ve seen in a long time. Guys around the league will need to take notice or he’ll surprise them. He is very entertaining as a fighter,” Darcy Hordichuk on teammate Rick Rypien.
Rypien is not a former gold-glove boxer — his dad was. But he spent lots of time training with his dad and brother and it is obvious when he drops the mitts. Rypien is top-three middleweights in the league, and Louie Debrusk thinks Rypien is pound for pound the toughest guy in the league.
Khabibulin struggles more v. the Canucks than any other team, he is only 6-16-3 with a 3.39 GAA. He hopes to change that tonight.