The Millennium Place Line Juggle

The Oilers skated at Millennium today. All except four guys, that is.

Sheldon Souray wasn’t on the ice, but similar to Shawn Horcoff yesterday, it was a day of maintenance for Souray. Steve Staios also sat out, after getting his bell rung last night. Pat Quinn said they will re-evaluate Staios tomorrow. Dustin Penner, who has been the best forward so far, didn’t take part in practice and it sounds like his was a mix of a day of maintenance, but also he was resting some sort of minor injury.

Marc Pouliot didn’t skate, because according to Quinn he has re-injured himself and he is at least a week away from playing again.

Ethan Moreau did skate, and after spending the last few days being hooked up to an IV, to fight off the infection in his ankle, he said he felt great and expects to play tomorrow.

The Oilers only skated for 45 minutes, but the lines were all different. Quinn cautioned that the changes were due to the guys not skating, but expect to see some minor shuffles in the lineup come tomorrow.

Penner will skate with Horcoff and Ales Hemsky if he plays. Quinn moved Penner up to that line in the third because, “The play was stalling with that line. I didn’t think Horcoff had much going early, and Penner was playing well so I moved him up,” said Quinn.

JF Jacques skated with Sam Gagner and Patrick O’Sullivan, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them as a combo. Comrie and O’Sullivan have given Quinn some fits with their defensive zone coverage so he might lean towards splitting them up.

Again, we won’t know for sure until the morning skate tomorrow, but you will see some line juggling. The other lines were Stone, Brule and Nilsson, while Cogliano, Comrie and Stortini skated together. I don’t see any chance that Stone, Brule and Nilsson will be a line tomorrow, because if Moreau plays I’m guessing either Nilsson or Stone comes out.

Nilsson made a great pass to Penner on his goal, but also had a few giveaways, while Stone had another big hit for the second game in a row.

Some have wondered when JDD will play, and it looks like he won’t play until the road trip. Quinn wants Khabibulin to get more comfortable, so unless he stands on his head tomorrow, I think Quinn is leaning towards playing him the next two games, before we get to see Deslauriers and his bright orange pads between the pipes.

I think it is better to get Khabibulin comfortable, than get Deslauriers a game. Deslauriers will get his games eventually but it’s clear Khabibulin needs to find his game.