Gimme a break

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.

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“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 . . .

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— 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.

  • socaldave

    DUDE! Throwing up a picture of a broken arm is NOT COOL! Naturally I threw up in a fit of panic until I remembered Souray didn't look THAT hurt as he skated off last night…

    You bastard.

  • socaldave

    oh yeah – might we see RS as the call up? I can't imagine why it would be, but if/when Gags/Nilsson miss some time, that might be a decent slot for RS to fill, no?

  • RobinB

    @ socaldave:
    I think it's more likely Potulny will get the call, but that's just me making an educated guess.
    MacTavish said it's likely they'll put in a call to Springfield, but he wasn't of the mind — or perhaps hadn't decided — to tell us who.

  • rindog

    @ RobinB:

    Any word on who starts in goal tomorrow?

    Judging by the fact that when Garon got stung in Pittsburgh – he sat for a month. And then again when Garon got shelled against Chicago – he got only 1 start the next 11 games and counting.

    Then when Roli got lit up against Detroit he started the next game. Roli gave away the game last night – so I would guess that Roli is going to get the start again tomorrow???

    It only seems fair in MacT's goaltending selection.

  • RobinB

    @ Wanye Gretz:
    "Just" strained could still see Stortini out for several weeks, but, yes, that's better than firing up the bone saw to mend a displaced or spiral fracture with plates and screws.

  • Puckbag

    A question for Robin, would you consider Hemsky a quality all-star in which other players in the league would follow? (is Souray considered this as well?) I was going through Western Conference rosters and almost every team has an all-star player (past or present) on the list. Even the lowly St. Louis Blues have Tkachuk and Kariya (albeit they are past their prime.) and the Blue-Jackets have Nash. Hell even Guerin convinced Weight to come to the Islanders.

    The point I'm trying to make is that if Hemsky isn't considered that type of player, then that makes the Oilers the only team in the West without a proven, top-end, all-star quality player. That pretty well leaves the Oilers DOA when it comes to free-agent signings, therefore do the Oilers need to acquire (in any shape or form) a top-end player (even if its beyond their prime) to help convince high quality free-agents to move to Edmonton?

  • RobinB

    @ hockeysmack:
    Of course not (if you've been following along here). You're wondering who might be available at, say, 11th or 12th?

    I'm thinking either Brayden Schenn or Nazem Kadri.

  • RobinB

    @ Wanye Gretz:
    Zack obviously has strong bones. Reminds me of my first wife, Brumelda.

    In the summer of 1981 Brumelda and I were camping up around Birkinhead Lake in the Whistler area. Anyway, after making a big dent in a two-four, I decided I do some four-wheeling, Not smart, since it was after midnight, but I thought, "What the hell."

    Bad idea. Brumelda, it turns out, was out behind the Power Wagon taking a dump. Never saw my sweet bride until I'd backed right over her. I had the missus buried backside to differential before I saw the asswipe flying and knew what was going on.

    Anyway, aside from having crap all over the bumper, buggering up the spare tire bracket and some cuts and scrapes, there was no damage done. Brumelda didn't break a thing — except a couple of my teeth when she came up from under the truck swinging. Skookum girl. Big bones.

    Zack's like Brumelda, although he shaves less often.

  • RobinB wrote:

    @ hockeysmack:
    Of course not (if you’ve been following along here). You’re wondering who might be available at, say, 11th or 12th?
    I’m thinking either Brayden Schenn or Nazem Kadri.

    Schenn or another big forward like Zack Kassian would be ideal, given the collection of mini-pops the team's assembled. The fact that the Oil have to play at a pace roughly 7-10 games above .500 the rest of the way makes the playoffs seem like a tall order. I guess we'd pick in a similar place in the unlikely event a dispersal draft is held for the collapsing Phoenix franchise. One can always hope.

  • MarkN

    @ RobinB:I have a good feeling that MacT might call up Theo Peckham to replace Stortini, since he rather play a defenceman up front rather than give Schremp a chance

  • Milli

    How much worse is it gonna get? Now, the Bigs can us ehte injury excuse i guess……What will it take to see some changes so that we can compete game in and game out????? Year in and year out???? Trade rumors? as I've given up on any mgmt/coach changes?

  • Hey Robin, I dont mean to boast the Schremp wagon here, but I have a legitimate question about him. Has he fallen back out of favor with the Oilers coaching staff, or are they just giving other guys a shot?

  • RobinB

    @ Jack Bauer:
    I've got no indication he's fallen out of favour, but the immediate call-up would be for a guy to replace Stortini. Schremp doesn't fit with that.
    Unless Nilsson can't play or Gagner's ankle gets bad enough to keep him out, I don't see Schremp being the guy who gets the chance.

  • WayneMc

    Why do they continue to give Reddox a chance? I was at the skills comp and when they were standing at the blue line, one of the pee-wee kids was bigger then Reddox. How is he still here and not Schremp? Would Reddox stand a chance of cracking the other 29 teams line up?

  • rindog

    @ RobinB:

    What about a replacement for Hemsky?

    As you recall – when Hemsky first went down, we called up no one????

    It was not until Pouliot went down that we called up Brule.

    Our roster last night was the exact same as it was 7 games ago – with the exception of Hemsky out and MacIntyre in.

    Is MacT now using MacIntyre to replace Hemmer?

    Is it just me or is there some memorable roster decisions being made by the coaching staff???

    And when I say memorable – I mean forgettable!!!!!

  • I agree with rindog. The coaching decisions by this moron are hard to believe. Unless he intentionally sabotaging his own team, I cant imagine why he thinks the way he does. Why didnt he call up a top scoring forward from the A to replace Hemsky. You could have kept the Cole Gagner Nillson line rolling because they were finally producing. Then you could have kept the Pouliott Cogs Moreau line rolling cause they were finally making something happen semi regularly.

    Instead what do we have? The Macblender at every opportunity with 6th line ECHL players playing with Horcoff and Penner. No wonder Horcoff's back is killing him.

    This team sucks. The decisions this team make suck. The people making those decisions….suck.

  • Milli

    I agree. If horcs line is the number 1 line (which is anyone's guess with MacT) should it not be an offensive line first, yes, be responsible defensively, but think offense? Should, say, Moreau play on a line that has shut down capability? I am not going to pretend I have the lines, but to me, 2 scoring lines, 1 shut down and then the energy line.

  • Chris

    Well there is always next year…

    I blame Lowe more than MacT for the ineptitude of this team. We needed a number one center to play with Hemskey; so Lowe acquires Cole, another right winger, and gives Horcoff a first line center contract extension. Predergast, at Lowe's request, began drafting "small" four years ago. With all these "talented" small players entering the lineup; Lowe trades Torres for Brule…As if we can integrate another minipop and remain "team tough" Don't get me wrong: MacT needs to go! MacT has been involved in personnel decisions. MacT believed that this team would contend for the division. MacT has been making increasingly weird decisions…

    Fire MacT immediately. Give Tambo the reigns to hire the replacement. Use what is left of this season to develop Deslaurier down the stretch. Let the players we have under contract compete with each other for their jobs. In the offseason, sign a big evil shutdown D-man, a suitable linemate for Hemmer, and deal some minipops for grit… Pick any two of Nilsson, Cogliano, Gagner, Brule, Reddox, Schremp, Eberle, etc to be in your lineup. Assign the rest to the AHL or trade them. See if the new coach can get more physical edge out of Brodziak, Pouliot, Gilbert and Penner down the stretch. If not, move them this summer. Oh, and use what is sure to be a high draft pick on a player with BOTH size and skill. There has been no consistancy or improvement as the season has progressed… Only excuses. It's time for the Oilers to remember their roots: Speed. Aggression. Heart. What good is skill without the other three?

  • R-DAWG

    WayneMc wrote:

    How is he still here and not Schremp?

    Lets pretend they give Shremp 20+ games to see what he can do. What if he sucks like Gagner,Nilsson,(insert player here). Then the coaching staff will be left with nothing else. Eberle is the next up and comer eventually, after that who else is there for the Oilers?? Our scouting/drafting sucks and we have a future that is full of "smallish players". Give up on the Shremp thing until we have someone to complement him!!

  • RobinB

    @ Jack Bauer:
    I'm also befuddled by the decisions made since Hemsky went down. In my mind, Brule was the fit in that spot, but he doesn't get in right away and when he does, he gets yanked off the line too quickly.

    There was no need to break up Gagner and Cole and I don't get the infatuation with Reddox. You get no argument from me on many of the decisions being made.