Originally created 06/12/06

Oilers use off day to take break from the ice



EDMONTON, Alberta - One day after their first Stanley Cup finals victory in 16 years, the Edmonton Oilers took a break.

Coach Craig MacTavish called for an optional on-ice workout Sunday and most of his players decided to keep their skates in their stalls.

"I think it's important after a big night like last night," Edmonton forward Shawn Horcoff said Sunday, the morning after the Oilers cut their deficit in the best-of-seven series to 2-1. "We've played a lot of tough minutes. It's good to get some rest and come back fresh."

They will test their rested legs Monday night when they host Game 4. The Oilers have already guaranteed they will play Game 5 in Raleigh, N.C., on Wednesday, and now have a chance to get even with the Hurricanes before boarding the plane.

Horcoff said the day off wasn't so much a reward for the victory. It just became necessary after 82 regular-season games and 20 more in the playoffs.

"At this point of the season, your coach pretty much asks you, 'How you do you feel?' There's not really much that you need to go out there and practice," he said. "Let's be honest, we're into the middle of June here. We're looking for as much rest as possible."

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STILL KICKING: The Carolina Hurricanes have turned the winding hallways of Rexall Place into their own personal pitch.

Before practice or even the games, several players can be found kicking around a soccer ball as people walk by and try to avoid getting hit during the dribbling drills.

"It's just something that we do as a team to have some fun and get loose at the same time," rookie goalie Cam Ward said. "Kind of getting your mind off the pressure or the game."

Ward and many of the Hurricanes and Oilers have turned their attention to the World Cup in Germany. It has been on televisions in each dressing room during the Stanley Cup finals and has helped fuel some fantasies.

"It's huge, the World Cup," the 22-year-old Ward said. "I am thinking of maybe trying out next year for Team Canada. We'll see how it goes."

In a perfect world, Ward would rather kick the ball than catch it.

"I'd be a goal scorer in soccer," he said, "but we just have to do our own thing."

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WHO ARE YOU?: Fernando Pisani had a very quiet day Sunday at the podium in front of the throng of reporters covering the Stanley Cup finals.

Instead of opening up their dressing room on the off day before Game 4, the Oilers opted to send their key players to the interview room.

With so many sporting playoff beards, it can sometimes be easy to mix people up.

Enter Mr. Pisani.

While he sat beside Jarret Stoll and Ryan Smyth, a question was posed to, "Both of the Smiths." Only problem, Edmonton captain Jason Smith wasn't in the room. Those on the dais turned to each other and shared a laugh.

When the question was finished, Stoll pushed the microphone over to Pisani and said, "Go ahead Jason."

Pisani turned a bit red as he leaned forward and said, "I'm Fernando Pisani."

It was the only questioned he answered.

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FROM ONE GENERATION TO ANOTHER: These Oilers aren't as talented as those Edmonton teams that won five Stanley Cup titles in seven years.

But some of the guys from that high-scoring dynasty are big fans of the blue-collar group that took the Oilers to the finals for the first time since 1990.

"This team is hard not to respect when you see how hard they play," said Hall of Fame defenseman Paul Coffey, who played on Edmonton's first three Stanley Cup champions. "It's tough to compare them to our teams. Any time you have a Wayne Gretzky and a Mark Messier, it's tough for anybody to compare. But we're proud of them."

Coffey was among several ex-Oilers who attended Game 3, joining Messier, Bill Ranford, Mark Hunter and Dave Semenko. Glenn Anderson is expected to be on hand Monday night when Edmonton attempts to even the series at two games apiece.

"It means a lot to us," Coffey said. "We're here as hockey fans, trying to give them any support we can."

He credited another former teammate, Oilers general manager Kevin Lowe, with orchestrating the turnaround after several lean seasons.

"Kevin has got to be commended," Coffey said. "He stuck to his guns and made the changes that needed to be made. He went out and got a goalie, Dwayne Roloson, at the trade deadline. He paid a steep price (giving up a first-round draft pick), but he believed in this team. He didn't sit back. He's going for it."

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MORAL VICTORIES: Rod Brind'Amour didn't take much out of the Carolina Hurricanes' 2-1 defeat in Game 3.

"There are no good losses at this point," the Carolina captain said. "Any positives? That we still get to play another game. That didn't cost us the series."

Brind'Amour and the Hurricanes bristled after a controversial goal by Edmonton late in Game 3 was allowed to stand, thus providing the difference in the loss.

That made this road defeat a little tougher for them to take.

"When you lose at this stage of the series, I just don't think there's positives you can gain," Brind'Amour said. "We know we're in for it now. We have had the one game in here and, if anything, it was more exciting than anything. So that's the positive, I guess."