December 30 2008 01:59PM
The Tootoo train has derailed another player, and this one hurts the Oilers. Ales Hemsky won’t dress tonight, and is highly doubtful to play tomorrow in Calgary as well.
Hemsky is still a bit fuzzy after taking a clean, but hard hit from Jordan Tootoo on Sunday night. Hemsky is playing the best hockey of his career and like his coach said, “There is never a good time to lose your best player,” so the Oilers will try to extend their winning streak without him. The big question is who replaces him on the right side of Horcoff? Erik Cole and Sam Gagner have some chemistry, as do Marc Pouliot and Andrew Cogliano. Will MacTavish switch up the lines or will Liam Reddox take some shifts with Horcoff and Penner? Don’t be surprised to see Reddox with Horcoff and Penner in a shut-down role against the Senators’ top line tonight. “The thing that is great about Horcoff is the versatility that he can do almost anything in the game. We can use him in a checking assignment if we need to. We will see how the game unfolds, so we will start one way and see how the game goes and then craft the lines relative to the situation in the game,” said MacTavish. So having Reddox with Horcoff in a shut-down role early seems likely and then if the Oilers are trailing expect to see either Pouliot or Cole skate with Horcoff. Of course don’t expect Reddox
Garon to go
Mathieu Garon will start tonight and Dwayne Roloson will go tomorrow in Calgary. Garon is looking to rebound from a sub par performance when he and the entire team stunk out the joint versus Chicago. Garon is 0–1 in his career against the Sens with a sparkling 0.83 GAA and .964 save percentage, while the Oilers are 7-3-2 against the Senators on home ice. Garon, who is an UFA at the end of the season, is desperately trying to find the game he had last season. If he hopes to get back between the pipes after tonight he will need to be really solid, or Roloson could easily play a the next six straight.
Musical chairs continues
For those who don’t know the Oilers room is shaped like a horseshoe. The veterans sit in the curve area at the top. Facing down the room from left to right Cole, Pisani, empty stall now that Gilbert moved, Staios and then Moreau. Down the left side it goes Souray, Strudwick, Reddox, MacIntyre, Grebeshkov, Smid, Gilbert, Brodziak, Nilsson empty stall and then Deslauriers has two stalls. Down the right side is Horcoff, Hemsky, Visnovsky, Stortini, then an open walkway, Penner, Gagner, Cogliano, Pouliot, Garon and Roloson. It worked for Erik Cole, so Tom Gilbert is hoping a new locker stall works for him. After Erik Cole and Steve Staios switched stalls over the Christmas break, today Tom Gilbert had a new stall between Ladislav Smid and Kyle Brodziak. Last season Gilbert was on the left side of the locker room, in the second last stall on the left side. He was asked to sit amongst the veterans at the start of the season, but has now moved back to the left side. “I think I needed a change. I was sitting in the veteran line, but I didn’t really fit in with those guys. It was a good experience, but I wanted to move back to the left side of the room with some of the guys I’d have more in common with. The conversations were a bit too sophisticated for me. They talked about books, world events, and kids. I’m back in the middle age group,” said Gilbert laughing. Players are superstitious and Gilbert wasn’t fond of his move to begin with, and now that he hasn’t scored in 15 games he is hoping a move back to the left side of the room might help.