The Oilers will get a lift tonight when Fernando Pisani returns to the ice for the first time since Nov 17th, a span of 42 games. He will skate with Moreau and Cogliano, while Stortini returns to his usual spot on the fourth line with Reddox and Brodziak.
His teammates wasted no time trying to make him feel part of the team again.
Moreau said jokingly, “It’s easier for him to come back compared to a skilled player.”
When Mark Connolly and I asked Pisani about that he replied, “He should know. Have you seen the puck after he handles it? It’s chipped up badly,” laughed Pisani.
Pisani is well-liked in the room, and Moreau went on to say how much of a boost it should be for the team.
Pisani does play a simple game, and since he doesn’t play very physical his conditioning shouldn’t be an issue.
Grebeshkov will not play tonight, but thinks he might be able to go on Saturday.
The last time the Blue Jackets were in town, it was the Ales Hemsky show. He scored twice, had two assists and basically beat the Blue Jackets himself. Hemsky has been okay of late, but he needs to amp up his game again. The Blue Jackets have been a good match up for the Oilers offensively this year, and they sounded like a confident bunch at the skate today.
Of course that doesn’t guarantee a solid effort, but for unexplained reasons this team has been able to ramp their game up at this time of the year before, excluding 2007.
Spotlight on coaches
Ken Hitchcock goes for win #501 tonight. He became only the 12th coach to win 500 games when the Jackets beat the Leafs last Thursday.
Pat Burns is next in line with 501.
Here is the top ten.
- Scotty Bowman: 1244-574-323
- Al Arbour: 782-577-248
- Dick Irvin: 692-527-230
- Mike Keenan: 660-539-163
- Pat Quinn: 657-481-180
- Bryan Murray: 620-465-154
- Billy Reay: 542-385-175
- Ron Wilson: 539-452-158
- Jacques Lemaire: 528-405-172
- Jacques Martin: 517-406-175
Pretty exclusive company for Hitchcock, but the Oilers are hoping he waits to tie Burns for at least another two days.
But wait, there’s more!
And what were the Penguins thinking? Why not just sign Ryan Malone to the $4.5 million contract in the summer. Is Chris Kunitz better? Of course not. Ray Shero must have something else up his sleeve or Ryan Whitney has completely lost his game. I’m betting on the former.