February 12 2009 11:40AM
After their biggest home win of the season, the Oilers’ players will enjoy a day of golfing with Daryl Katz and some of his friends in Palm Springs, but I’m guessing for Craig MacTavish and Steve Tambellini they will be sweating more from the Denis Grebeshkov injury than the desert heat.
Grebeshkov is out a minimum of two weeks with a high ankle sprain, and probably longer. Talk about baaaaaaaad timing for #37 and the Oilers. Two weeks ago the depth of the blueline was the best asset Tambellini had if he was seriously considering acquiring a scoring forward, but now it looks like a weakness, especially offensively.
Now the Oilers will have to go get another D-man. Smid can move into the top-four and play with Gilbert, or maybe they re-unite Staios/Smid and Gilbert/Souray, but either way the Oilers second-line PP unit won’t have a threat from the blueline.
Staios, Smid, Jason Strudwick and Theo Peckham -- who MacTavish said was the obvious call up -- are not going to quarterback the second unit. They might play Souray and Gilbert close to the entire two minutes, but that could be costly if they get lots of PP time.
The other option is having Sam Gagner play the point again, with Cogliano, Nilsson and Cole up front on a second unit, but even then you’d still have to use one of the defensive defenceman. Taylor Chorney is not ready to play, so does Tambellin look to acquire a puck mover who could also play on the PP?
The list is pretty short. I wrote last week about who might be available at the deadline, and the list of puck-moving D-men wasn’t very long. It might not be their first choice, but Mathieu Schneider looks awfully tempting now.
Who else? Filip Kuba? Jordan Leopold? The list isn’t very long. I even searched the AHL for someone of interest, but I don’t think Danny Syvret is the answer. I doubt the Sabres would want to move young Marc-Andre Gragnani from their Portland affiliate.
You wonder if the Bruins would be interested in parting with Edmonton native Johnny Boychuk out of Providence. Boychuk has 41 points in 50 games in the AHL this year. He was a former second rounder of the Flames in 2002, and has played four NHL games with Colorado and one with the Bruins this season.
Clearly these aren’t great options, and might not be better than what the Oilers have, but it doesn’t look like there is a long list of D-men who could fill the gap left by Grebeshkov and Visnovsky.
Gilbert will have to play 27-28 minutes a night now, and Souray might be close to 30 if the Oilers are going to stay competitive. Smid’s play has steadily improved all season, but he will need to be even better now. Staios plays best between 17-20 minutes a night -- anymore and he struggles. He can play a few games in the 22-24 range, but if they ask him to play that for the next three weeks he will inevitably struggle.
Cole banged up
Ales Hemsky opened the door for his teammates in the third period, while Shawn Horcoff was rested to avoid re-aggravating his charley horse, and Erik Cole sat on the bench for the first eleven minutes of the third before leaving early.
I asked MacTavish why Cole was rested, considering he has been in a slump -- pointless in seven games now -- and he said that he is banged up. Of course he wouldn’t elaborate on what the bumps and bruises are, but it’s fair to say he is less than 90 per cent healthy. This might explain why in the past three weeks he has gone back to looking like the Cole of the first twenty games this season. Cole said the rest should do him good the next few days, and feels it is nothing more than the usual wear and tear. But, rarely do guys sit out in “point night” games if they are just a bit banged up.
DAUM NOT A MIRACLE WORKER... YET
Rob Daum didn’t have much time to go over a game plan last night when he stepped behind the bench in Manchester, but he might have given a good opening speech because the Falcons scored :34 seconds into the first and led 2-0 at the 8:34 mark. Unfortunately for Daum and his team, they weren’t able to maintain their strong start and lost 5-2 to Manchester.
Daum’s job becomes even harder with Peckham coming back to Edmonton, and unless Tambellini makes a move before Sunday, he will lose another D-man when the Oilers go to Phoenix.
With the Oilers playing back-to-back in Phoenix and San Jose on the 16th and 17th, they will want an extra D-man there just in case someone gets hurt against the Coyotes. The plan was to bring in Peckham, but now he is coming early, and might be joined by Mathieu Roy or even Sebastion Bisaillon. Either way Daum will be hard pressed to turnaround a Falcons’ team that just doesn’t have that much skill.
With Fernando Pisani set to return, the Oilers will have to make some decisions. When they activate Pisani that gives them 14 forwards, six D-men (with Peckham, Grebeskhov will go on IR), two goalies and JF Jacques on conditioning stint.
If they bring in another D-man via trade or call one up, someone has to be sent down. Liam Reddox doesn’t have to clear waivers and would seem the likely choice. They could try to sneak MacIntyre through waivers, but that would be risky. So expect Reddox to be sent down if they bring in another D-man.