GREENBURGH, N.Y. --The Edmonton Oilers are making
themselves quite comfortable in their home away from home as they
prepare for the opening game of the Stanley Cup final Monday night
The NHL's Western Conference champions are living large at the
New York Rangers' training center in this suburb 25 miles
north of Manhattan, where they will stay through Sunday.
The facility, which is less than four years old, features an
1,800-sqare-foot, state-of-the-art weight room next to the locker
room. There is also a well-appointed lounge with a pool table,
pingpong table, refreshment center and high-definition television.
"It's not so much being in Edmonton, but being in the finals it's a case where the ticket requests and managing the calls from family and booking flights for your family and all that stuff, it can be really disruptive."
Oilers coach Craig MacTavish
"You could get spoiled here, that's for sure," forward Ryan
Smyth said Friday. "It's got everything you need. We're very
fortunate. It's what we needed right now, at this time."
More important for the Oilers' purposes, it is far away from the
scrutiny and hype in their home city, which is starved for a
Stanley Cup after a 16-year drought. It is also convenient to
both Buffalo and Carolina, who were still playing in the Eastern
Conference finals when Edmonton eliminated Anaheim in five games on
The Hurricanes beat Buffalo 4-2 in Game 7 on Thursday night.
"We started thinking about it when we went to Anaheim for Game
5," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. "We wanted to get out East
and started to throw some ideas around of where we were going to
go. This was our first choice because we knew the facility is away
from a lot of the distractions."
Facing an eight-day layoff, the Oilers considered going to
Niagara Falls to train, but decided on the New York metropolitan
area. It didn't hurt that McTavish and Oilers GM Kevin Lowe are
both former Rangers.
"It's not so much being in Edmonton, but being in the finals
it's a case where the ticket requests and managing the calls from
family and booking flights for your family and all that stuff, it
can be really disruptive," MacTavish said. "We knew we wanted to
go somewhere. This worked out fine for us.
"We've said we'd be happy to reciprocate if New York's out
there in the finals against Vancouver or something and they want a
facility to use. We'd be happy to do that."
After a crisp one-hour, 15-minute practice Friday, players were
upbeat as they shifted their focus to Carolina, which has won 12 of
its last 16 games since opening the playoffs with back-to-back
losses to Montreal.
"Today was our best practice since we've been back,"
defenseman Jason Smith said. "We had a lot of energy, and there
was that nervous intensity you want to have. You want to have that
edge when the series starts."
The Oilers won five Stanley Cups between 1984 and 1990 but had
not advanced past the first round of the playoffs since 1998. That
explains in part the reaction of Edmonton fans, whose celebration
on downtown streets after the team defeated Anaheim got out of
The situation prompting the team to have Smyth and other players
tape public-service announcements urging calm.
"All the greatest guys played there. The history is there, so
everybody follows hockey," forward Radek Dvorak said. "The
craziness is there during the game and even in the streets before
and after the games. We're part of that and it's unbelievable."
Edmonton has already confounded the experts by advancing farther
than any No. 8 seed since the NHL went to the current seeding
format in 1994.
"I wouldn't feel that we're overachieving," Smyth said. "I
just think we've got some well-rounded depth on our hockey team and
it's just a matter of getting an opportunity once you get in the
playoffs, and we're making the most of it right now."