The Oilers’ offence is hurting more than the players in bed sick right now, after consecutive goose eggs against Vancouver and Colorado.
Pat Quinn continues to tinker with his lineup as he switched JF Jacques and Mike Comrie hoping for some more offence. Lubomir Visnovksy didn’t practice today, after leaving last night’s game early because of the flu. Theo Peckham skated in his place, and if Visnovsky can’t go, he will draw in tomorrow. With only Visnovsky not practicing, that could be a sign that the flu is slowly vacating the lockerroom, but we’ll see.
The coaches have seen enough giveaways from Tom Gilbert and Denis Grebeshkov and they too were split up this morning. Gilbert was paired with Jason Strudwick, while Taylor Chorney and Grebeshkov skated together. Fernando Pisani and Steve MacIntyre were the extras, and while Pisani could play tomorrow if needed, he’d be better served to get a few more practices under his belt. A return Saturday morning in Boston seems the most likely.
Watching practice, it’s clear the Oilers need to work on their passing. That’s what killed them v. Colorado. The Oilers couldn’t string together consecutives in the neutral zone all night. Passes went off legs, sticks, missed the target or in many cases they just turned it over.
Tom Renney and Wayne Fleming were very vocal this morning on the ice. They were frequently stopping practice and pointing out positional mistakes, bad decisions and reinforced what they wanted guys to do on the forecheck and the backcheck.
When you haven’t scored in over 140 minutes, it’s obvious every aspect of their offence is struggling, but their PP has also been brutal the past three games. They’ve missed the net too much, or had shots blocked and they haven’t had any urgency on the man advantage. If Visnovsky can’t go tomorrow night, then expect their PP struggles to continue.
Money doesn’t matter
Evaluating a player based on their salary is a fruitless effort in my mind. Ice time and opportunity is a big key to many players’ success. It’s obvious Shawn Horcoff is struggling right now, and if it continues Quinn will have no choice but to switch him with Cogliano or Brule.
Quinn admits he is satisfied with Horcoff’s effort, but he needs his $5.5 million dollar center to produce more with the minutes he is getting. Horcoff clearly has no offensive confidence right now and it will be interesting to see how Quinn deals with him.
Does he take him off the PP? If they send the second unit out in the offensive zone, Horcoff gives them the best chance to win the draw, but if they change on the fly would Quinn be better served to let Brule or Cogliano take a twirl?
Steve Staios and Sheldon Souray continue to struggle with post-concussion syndrome. They have a good day, and then a bad day. They have yet to make enough progress to even consider skating, and the longer they are out the more the Oilers will struggle in their own zone.