Tom Renney pulled a few interesting tricks out of his coaching trunk yesterday during practice at Millenium Place. He isn’t desperate, yet, but clearly he was looking to find a way to stop the
bleeding, hemorrhaging. The Oilers have lost five straight and have been outscored 30-8 in that span. Yesterday Renney tried to instill some FUN back into his team.
After a lengthy meeting at Rexall Place where the players expressed their concerns, and possible solutions about ending the streak, they jumped in their vehicles and headed to Sherwood Park. Devan Dubnyk was on the ice for about 15 minutes warming up by himself and then the rest of the team slowly trickled out of the room, but none of them were wearing a jersey.
Renney called them to centre ice, told them to drop their sticks in the circle, and then proceeded to perform the ancient shinny art of picking teams by tossing sticks to each side of centre. After the 20 sticks had been tossed (Hemsky, and Smid weren’t involved) they put on their respective jerseys and played a fun game of four-on-four.
Team White ended up winning, and ironically they looked a lot like Chicago did on Wednesday; dominating the game, but after it was over the players seemed more relaxed. The players then had their own game of strip shootout. The players started fully dressed and if you missed a shot or deke, (they started from the top of the circle) you had to remove a piece of equipment.
Jerseys came off, then shoulder pads, helmet, elbow pads until it got down to the final three; Theo Peckham, Jason Strudwick and Andrew Cogliano. Strudwick finally scored, then Peckham and Cogliano ended up losing with only his underarmour, socks, and skates left on. For years Strudwick has reminded his teammates that he is a perfect in NHL shootouts; ONE of ONE, and he wasn’t fazed by yesterdays shoddy performance.
"Is that going to be on the record books? As far as I’m concerned i’m still one-for-one; this one won’t make it to Toronto. If I’m being honest, I went in to the shootout today and I didn’t feel good about my moves. I’m sure sometimes when Mariah Carey goes to sing she isn’t 100%, her voice doesn’t sound great. When Picasso would get his paint brush and start painting I’m sure he didn’t always feel like he was going to paint a great picture that day. Michangelo, another great artist same thing, and I’m an artist as well, and I didn’t feel great going into it, but I still went in. In the end I didn’t lose, but I also didn’t win so it was a neutral day for me. I was like Switzerland."
Who knows if the relaxed practice will get them out of their funk, but you can’t blame Renney for trying. The Oilers are bad right now, and they know it. Only hard work, attention to detail and a few breaks will get them a win.
DUBNYK, WELCOME TO THE DEVELOPMENT
We’ve known for six months that this would be a rebuilding season for the Oilers, and it has been; except in goal. Devan Dubnyk only started two of the first 16 games, and got his team to OT in both of them, but surprisingly he’s only had those two starts. With Nikolai Khabibulin straining his groin on Wednesday, probably during one of his eight highlight-reel stops, Dubnyk will now get a chance to strut his stuff.
Dubnyk is clearly excited about the opportunity to play consecutive games and he realizes he needs to play well in Khabibulin’s absence to ensure he gets more games when the veteran returns.
BRULE WILL SIT OUT
Gilbert Brule will be a healthy scratch for the first time this season with Ryan Jones moving up to play on the 3rd line. "He needs to play to his strengths more. He has lots of them, but he needs to find them. It isn’t lack of effort with Gilbert, but his isn’t playing to his strengths right now," said Renney.
Renney will go back to the top-six he started the season with.
Shawn Horcoff will centre Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, while Sam Gagner will play between Dustin Penner and Ales Hemsky. Jones will skate with Cogliano and Magnus Paajarvi and the fourth line will see JF Jacques with Colin Fraser and Zack Stortini.
The D-pairings will remain the same as last game. Whitney/Gilbert, Peckham/Vandermeer and Belle/Foster.
DOGS HEATING UP
After a slow start the Coyotes are rolling, winners of four straight. Ray Whitney got off to a very slow start, but was supposedly playing hurt. He’s healthy now and leading the Coyotes with three goals and eleven points. The Dogs won’t kill you with one line, but they are deep with eleven players with three or more goals.
The Coyotes had an optional skate this morning, but look for Ilya Bryzgalov (4-0-2 in his last six) to start in goal.
ICE WOMAN OF THE WEEK
Now that winter is officially here say hello to Kaylin. She’s a rookie with the Thrashers Blue Crew, her favourite movie is the Hangover and she’d want Cameron Diaz to play her in a movie.
MY CRYSTAL BALL
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Because they can’t lose every game…Dubnyk stands on his head, mades 36 saves and Oilers win 3-2.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: After claming no one has any confidence right now, Ales Hemsky takes the game into his own hands. Hemsky scores a pair of goals, including one highlight reel end-to-end rush that energizes Rexall Place. He helmetbutts Sam Gagner after his second goal, and that seems to wake up Gagner who scores the game winner.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: After losing his phone at Holt Renfrew last night, twitter sensation Biz Nasty (Paul Bissonnette) will be sitting on the bench when a fan walks down the aisle behind Coyotes bench and shows him the phone. Fans says he’ll give it back if BN scores on his own net. BN ponders it on the bench for a few moments, and realizes that he’ll have a longer career in broadcasting/social media than he will as a player and all his contacts are in the phone.On his next shift he rips one past an unsuspecting Bryzgalov. He goes back to the bench, catches the phone and then sits down, rocking back and forth on the bench clutching the phone and saying…"Precious, my precious."
TEN BUCKS TO GO TO OILER GAME
CONGRATS TO NEIL RUEL…Neil send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org with your number and we will let you know how to get tickets. Thanks to all who helped.
One of our partners, Boston Pizza, is having a fundraiser for Kids with Cancer. So here at the Nation we thought we would help them out. It is Friday, and even though the Oilers are struggling, many of you would love to go to the game if it only cost you ten bucks.
The first 20 people to donate ten bucks will go into a draw for a pair of tickets to tonight’s game. The tickets are in with the real fans in the 300s. So if you aren’t ready to scream and cheer you might not want to donate.
Click here to donate, and I will announce the winner once we have twenty donations of ten dollars. Thanks.