Saturday's morning skate at Cup finals

Updated: June 10, 2006, 2:30 PM ET
ESPN.com

EDMONTON, Alberta -- Ah, the morning skate. Drills, no spills and, well, not much else.

Until now.

Live (sort of) from the Stanley Cup finals, NHL writer Scott Burnside and NHL editor Joy Russo give you a rink-side play-by-play.

Russo: Here we are in Edmonton. The Oilers are out first.

Burnside: So, here we are in Edmonton at the morning skate before Game 3. It's a bit strange but head coach Craig MacTavish isn't on the ice. Usually he's a very integral part of the morning skate, chatting with players and helping to run the drills. Maybe he's looking to change up the team's karma by staying in his office this morning.

Burnside: Long-time Oiler defenseman and assistant coach Charlie Huddy is running the show this morning.

Burnside: Want a sense of how deep the hockey roots run in this city? At a downtown restaurant on Friday evening, two middle-aged women, workers in some downtown office, were engaged in a lengthy, vigorous debate over whether the Oilers' long layoff between the end of the Western Conference finals and Stanley Cup finals was to blame for their disorganized play and rash of penalties. Pretty much guaranteed this kind of discussion isn't taking place in downtown Atlanta or in South Florida.

Russo: How about Bristol, CT?

Russo: And we have a MacTavish sighting! He just walked into the stands, about two rows in front of us at center ice. He's in street clothes, talking to a few kids.

Russo: Well, I must say, without MacT on the ice, things are a lot more business-like this morning for the Oilers.

Russo: Ryan Smyth and Shawn Horcoff are practicing drills in front of the net, taking shots from the point and trying to hone in on tip-ins. MacTavish said Thursday that he thought the pair were trying too hard in Games 1 and 2. He wants them to get back to basics here at home.

Russo: All of the TV crews are huddled together in the stands, taking in the Oilers' skate. NBC, OLN, ESPN, TSN and CBC are all represented. MacT is talking to some of those folks now.

Russo: And look who else is here? Mark Messier's father, Doug. He's taking in the skate from the Oilers' bench.

Russo: We've all been banned to one side of Rexall Place to watch the skate. The other side ... well, each seat is donned with silver pompoms for the fans tonight. So, you'll likely witness a mad sea of silver out there tonight.

Burnside: The Oilers are about done. We'll be back soon for the Canes.

Russo: The Hurricanes are on the ice. Peter Laviolette is leading the practice. He's just asked a cameraman to move. The cameraman was perched up on one of the benches. I guess Laviolette thought he was too close to the action.

Russo: All of you hockey fans will be happy to know that Mr. Burnside, who was without a hotel this morning, has found a home. Bless the staff at the Courtyard by Marriott in downtown Edmonton. Hopefully, Scott won't raise too much of a ruckus there!

Russo: Canes are skating hard, setting up 2-on-1 drills.

Burnside: In general, the home team takes the ice at 10:30 a.m. for the morning skate on game days and the visiting team follows at 11:30. But because Game 3 is set for 8 p.m. ET, 6 p.m. in Edmonton, the morning skates are an hour earlier.

Russo: That cuts into Scott's beauty sleep. It could get ugly.

Russo: One of the unique culinary treats of Edmonton is a dish of deep-fried dill pickles. Mr. Burnside is salivating right next to me for another round of the pickles. He says they're like a drug. Apparently, Ducks GM Brian Burke was not a fan -- he refused to try them.

Russo: The Hurricanes are wrapping up. Check in with us for all the action tonight as Game 3 gets under way at 8 p.m. ET. Enjoy the pucks!

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