January 10 2009 04:31PM
If there's such thing as good news with how the Edmonton Oilers are staggering toward the halfway mark of their schedule like pie-eyed tourists toting a cupful of quarters at 2 a.m. in Las Vegas, it came this morning.
All-star defenceman Sheldon Souray, who left the game with an unspecified injury during the second period of Friday's 4-1 loss to San Jose and didn't return, was back on the ice at Rexall Place for practice today. It turns out Souray tweaked his left shoulder in a collision with Tomas Plihal, but aside from some numbness and tingling, he's fine and will be good to go against the St. Louis Blues Sunday.
And tough guy Zack Stortini, who fell awkwardly during a scrap with Brad Staubitz -- many feared he'd suffered a badly broken leg -- has escaped what looked like a season-ending injury with a sprained knee. With the Oilers going nowhere fast in Western Conference standings as they hit the 41-game mark against St. Louis, a silver lining is better than a swift size 13 in the groin.
"I just gave my shoulder a little tweak. It was a pretty innocent play," Souray said. "It was more of a precautionary thing at that point. I wanted to make sure I was ready for the next game." When Souray, limited to 26 games last season, left the ice shaking his left arm, there was reason to fear the worst. He's had surgery on both his left shoulder and wrist, so it didn't look good. Souray expects he'll be good to go against the Blues and doesn't see any long-term effects. He said today he'll keep his date in Montreal for the all-star game. "It's not going to be an issue," he said.
Stortini didn't get off as easily and will be out for an unspecified length of time, but he's not nearly as badly off as he could have been. The play with Staubitz had spiral fracture written all over it. "He's got rubber legs, obviously," MacTavish said of Stortini. "When we looked at the replay, it looks like something's got to break, but it didn't. That's good news. "It still strained a bunch of (ligaments). I'm shocked, absolutely shocked that it wasn't so much worse. It's going to be awhile, but . . ."
AND . . .
-- Sam Gagner has been battling a nagging ankle injury and it forced him to leave practice early today. He's been playing through a fair bit of discomfort, and it flared up again against the Sharks. "It's just precautionary," Gagner said. "My skating is fine. Going into battles, I'm not really worry about it. "During a hard battle, I'll tweak it and the pain will last for five or 10 seconds and go away. It's nagging and something I have to stay on top of."
-- Robert Nilsson, who sustained one mild concussion already this season, got buzzed Friday when he fell into the end boards. He skated today but is less than 100 per cent. With Stortini out and Gagner and Nilsson hurting, expect the Oilers to call-up a player from Springfield of the AHL.
-- MacTavish had Gilbert Brule skating with Kyle Brodziak and Steve MacIntryre in Stortini's absence. Liam Reddox was on right wing with Dustin Penner and Shawn Horcoff.
-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.