Flu hits the Oil

Yesterday the entire Oilers team got the day off, but today at practice many of them still were still MIA. Ken Lowe, Barry Stafford and crew are on high alert as they try to get some bodies healthy enough to play. They don’t think this is H1N1, but they are being cautious.

Sheldon Souray and Steve Staios are still out with concussions.

Ryan Stone had an MRI yesterday, and today he was getting a scope on his knee. They think he has a meniscus tear, but won’t know until they see it on the scope today. It looks like he is gone for at least two to four weeks. They will know more following the scope.

Ladislav Smid and Gilbert Brule didn’t skate due to the flu, and this same strain had Ales Hemsky bed-ridden for three days — both are questionable for tomorrow.

We also saw three new lines at practice this morning.

Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff have been split up!

Horcoff was centering Mike Comrie and Patrick O’Sullivan, while Hemsky skated with Dustin Penner and Sam Gagner.

Kelly Buchberger was in the middle of JF Jacques and Robert Nilsson, while the only line that remained intact was Andrew Cogliano, Ethan Moreau and Zack Stortini.

Right now, Steve MacIntyre is the only healthy extra body around, and he was practicing again on defence. If one of Smid or Brule can’t go then he is in.

The injuries are an issue, but I’m sure one of Brule or Smid will be ready so they can ice 18 skaters, but the bigger story is that Hemsky and Horcoff have been separated.

A new first line?

Without stating the obvious, both have struggled. Neither has looked comfortable, and a change of linemates might get both of them going. I’m not going out on a limb when I say that Horcoff won’t continue to be on pace for only 20 points this season, and that Hemsky will eventually look like a game breaker again, but it is clear that Pat Quinn doesn’t want to wait much longer.

This team is 5-2-1 without a sniff from their two top offensive players. That’s a sign they that have some depth, but eventually they need these two to start contributing.

Quinn doesn’t want to keep Penner, Horcoff and Hemsky as a line right now. He said if he has to go back to them he will, but he wants to have balance so those three won’t be together just yet.

Many have wanted to see Gagner and Hemsky together, and now we will see how they do. The way Penner is playing they might stay a unit for awhile.

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  • I don't see anything wrong with Quinn trying new lines but if he's trying to structure a tough min line around 10 but without the help of 83, I really don't think it's gonna work.

    I don't remember the last time we had a match line that didn't feature the 10-83 pairing – I dare say it was pre-lockout though – but it's worth a shot to see if we can keep the balance while also fashioning a line that can be called upon to face the opposing toughs.

  • Hemmer – If its Dennis from MC79, I'm sure he has an Excel spreadsheet stashed somewhere that could tell you how much gum Quin was chewing, itemized by period, Corsi, EV, 4×4, PP and PK. Guy knows the line match ups like nobody's business.

    He's got a point about the tough minutes line without Hemsky. The hope is that Sam picks up his game enough to make it work, and the jury is still out on that one.

    Maybe the bigger issue is that while Quinn's two-skill-guys-one-plugger strategy works with the rest of the team, it might be a detriment to Horcoff and Hemsky. Those two worked best (that we've seen) with Penner, who's a decent player when he puts his mind to it.

    While JFJ is dishing out the Rexall Reminders, alot of the time (by my eye mind you) it looks like he's a boat anchor for the first line.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    I wonder if Brule can't play if O'Sullivan might step into the middle for a game. It wouldn't be a big shift to run the lines as: Comrie-Horc-Nillson, Penner-Gagner-Hemsky, Moreau-Cogliano-Stortini, Jacques-O'Sullivan-MacIntire.

    O'Sullivan and Cogliano would be interchangeable, and MacIntire could be swapped in and out for a rotation of wingers as needed. It's not ideal, but with so many players down it seems like a reasonable option – besides, I've been curious to see how O'Sullivan would look down the pipe for a while.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Gregor I never laughed so hard as I did yesterday around 4:30. Girl guide cookies and some sort of dr.pepper candies make for good radio.

    By the way those cookies are amazing and I think those mint ones have been around for quite a few years.

      • Chris.

        I'm with you guys on this too, LOL. I never made it to a "sixer" only a "second". I quit before I got too geeky…and I never heard of a Queen Scout either…
        I'll be interested to see how the lines look out there tonight and also I hope Garon has a good game, but not as good as good as the wall.

  • Chris.

    Right now, I can't really get a handle on how Quinn intends to run the lines long term.

    I think – though I'm not sure – that Quinn isn't as stringent on hard-matching as was MacT because there have been a few times where I've seen the 13 line out against the toughs and before MacT sorta lost his mind during the last 20 games last year, you could literally count on two hands the times that he wasn't getting his preferred matchup at home and it was always ?-10-83 against the Jones.

    In any case, it will be interesting to see how this all plays out. I don't believe for a minute that 89 will get more EVTOI than will 10 and I really don't think that 91 goes from playing less EVTOI than 22 in certain games to getting dragged along to top min duty with 10-19.