Injuries continue

Already down their first line RW, the Oilers might face the Islanders tonight without their first-line centre, as Shawn Horcoff will be a game-time decision with back spasms. Horcoff’s back flared up this morning and coach MacTavish is hoping his ice-time leader among forwards can go when the bell rings.

Marc Pouliot will play tonight, but where is yet to be determined. If Horcoff can’t go then he will play centre; if #10 is in, then Pouliot expects to be back on the wing with Cogliano and Moreau. Horcoff’s status will determine who sits out tonight either way. If he goes, it will either be Brule, Reddox or Strudwick drawing in.

Dwayne Roloson will start in goal tonight.

Change in Style?

Zack Stortini seems to have shaken his Huggy Bear moniker by being much more of a chucker in his last five fights. He has also tested his endurance with some lengthy bouts that have lasted more than a minute. Stortini credits working with former tough guy and current assistant coach with the Edmonton Oil Kings, Rocky Thompson.

“I’ve been working on improving my fighting and Rocky has been great. He works on how to use different angles, the positioning of my hands, and how to move my head more. His advice has given me a lot more confidence and I’m feeling more comfortable in that area.”

Whatever advice he is getting from Thompson and Jason Strudwick seems to be paying off, and Stortini’s overall game has improved. He has been move involved physically and that fourth line, while they’re not scoring as much as last season, has become more noticeable every game.

GMs Talking

Steve Tambellini and Garth Snow spent a long time talking at the morning skate today. Some of the talk involved Steve’s son Jeff who will play for the Islanders tonight, but you wonder if those two are looking to make a deal. The Islanders will clearly be a seller as the season goes along, and outside of Mark Streit and Rick Dipietro you would think every other Islander is available.

Trent Hunter would attract the most attention, but Snow is hesitant to move him. Bill Guerin, Doug Weight and Mike Comrie are all UFAs at the end of the season, and only Guerin has a no move clause. So look for at least one of them to be moved.

  • Gary

    Let's see if the Oil can bring in Jeff Tambellini. He'd be a good fit for the simple relation that the Oil have gone from taking care of their own to employing ONLY their own.

  • Chaz

    Couldn't agree more with your comments on Zack. It seems that after Laperrier (SP?) made fun of him by mimicing his huggy-bear style he's more willing to stand up and exchange punches. Good on him.

    Cole has also looked great the last couple of games. Maybe having guys like Hemmer and Horcs out for a few games will wake up some of the passengers up, and they'll start producing with the additional ice-time. That's my New Years glass half full take on it anyways.

    Did anyone else notice how slow and boring the Oiler game seemed on Sat night after switching over from the World Juniors? Are the Juniors actually out-skating NHL players? That's what it seemed like to me. Or are they just playing with more Gusto because everything's on the line? Either way, I wish we could get energy like that out of the Oil. Go Canada!!

  • Hanson#4

    @ Chaz:

    Could not agree more about the WJC to Oilers compare. Very little emotion from the Oilers (or Stars for that matter). Just a bunch of guys punching the clock.

    Although can we expect high level emotion every game from every Oiler ? Probably not.

    Can we bring back Mark Messier !?

  • shakey

    Chaz, I think most junior games you will find that they look like they outskate the NHL players. It's hard to tell what line is # 1 and what line is # 4 most of the time. They all work every shift and play a quick game. Now maybe they buzz around like that because they need to because the skill level isn't what it is in the NHL where guys can get by floating for a few shifts and then 'turn it on'. Playing for a pay-day might motivate more than getting paid to play.

  • Ssseth

    Chaz wrote:

    Maybe having guys like Hemmer and Horcs out for a few games will wake up some of the passengers up, and they’ll start producing with the additional ice-time.

    Did anyone else notice how slow and boring the Oiler game seemed on Sat night after switching over from the World Juniors?

    Last year the kid line woke up with the added pressure, maybe this year will be the same. Gags has had a better run offensively since Hemmer has been out. Granted this has a lot to do with Cole coming on as well.

    About the World Jr's, I was actually chatting with a few buddies about it ahead of time (it was while we were watching the USA match, before the Flames game on new years Eve). I was expecting it to look a lot slower. Part of that is the systems that they play in the NHL. With the rare exception it's always preached that you better give up less than you create. That and it's hard to play balls to the wall every night through a 82 game schedule. Physically it's pretty much impossible actually (without injuries anyway).

    What's with all these Jr games on the same as Oilers games anyway? My wife is getting sick(er) of hockey!

  • Chris

    This one hurts. I've been critical of Horcoff's play and huge contract extension but he does play monster minutes for this club. Who is going to take all those left side draws?

  • Milli

    juniors rock, I think cuz it's a short tourney with alot on the line. Eberle has been real good. Wouldn't it be funny if they traded for comrie!!! HAHAHA, the sweet irony!

  • Steve Tambellini has said before that he has no interest in dealing for his son. He even said that if he was offered a job in New York instead of Edmonton, his first task would have been to trade away his son.

    Whether this is true or not is yet to be seen, but going by what he's said in the past, I would bet against it.

    Isn't Trent Hunter a local product?

  • As much as Garth has loved Jeff, he hasn't been able to really develop at the NHL level and capture his AHL success. Maybe he would be happy in Edmonton. Islanders Country wouldn't be THAT upset to see him go. GREAT KID, just hasn't quite made it yet. But neither has anyone ELSE on our team!