The injuries continue for the Oilers, and the latest victim is Shawn Horcoff.
We will get the exact extent of his injury after the skate today, but like I said on my show yesterday and Brownlee wrote yesterday, the Oilers will be without their highest paid forward for the next while.
Some will argue that they won’t miss his five points, -5 rating and his 25 shots. Clearly Horcoff has struggled this season, but no other centre has been solid offensively.
Sam Gagner has had a few good games, Gilbert Brule was good until he got sick and Cogliano has had three good games, but otherwise he has been invisible. One, if not two of them has to step up.
Filling Horcoff’s offensive contributions won’t be hard right now, but one of them needs to be better in the draws, and be ready to consistently face the opposition’s best defencemen. Gagner will have the best chance because he’ll be playing with Dustin Penner and Ales Hemsky. It isn’t a surprise that Gagner and Horcoff’s most productive game this year came playing with those two.
Gagner will be the guy to slide back on to the top line, but if this team is going to start winning again Cogliano or Brule need to chip in. They can’t win with just one line scoring, and that has been the case for the past six games.
Players need to grab the opportunity when it presents itself, so which centre will step up?
More injury trouble?
Horcoff is out, but he isn’t the only one hurting. Ales Hemsky didn’t skate this morning and he has an undisclosed injury. He won’t say what it is, but when the rest of the team was getting on the ice Hemsky was coming back to the rink after getting some sort of test done. He says he will play tomorrow, but he isn’t 100 per cent healthy.
Ladislav Smid didn’t practice either and I will fill you in on his status after practice.
Theo Peckham was re-assigned to Springfield after the game in Long Island, because Steve Staios looks ready to play. He practiced today and took part in some contact drills and it looks like he will return tomorrow night.
Mike Comrie was also on the ice, and should be ready against the Rangers as well.
Based on practice, it looks like Patrick O’Sullivan will be the other centre now that Horcoff is out. He skated with Robert Nilsson and JF Jacques. Zack Stortini skated in Hemsky’s spot with Penner and Gagner. Cogliano was with Ethan Morean and Fernando Pisani, while Brule centred Comrie and MacIntyre. You have to think if Hemsky plays then Stortini will move down and play with Brule and Comrie.
The defence pairings saw Tom Gilbert with Denis Grebeshkov, Taylor Chorney and Lubomir Visnovsky and Jason Strudwick with Steve Staios.
More on Horcoff…
I spoke with Horcoff, and he says that though his injury will put him out of play anywhere from just the next game to two weeks out, he won’t require surgery.
Horcoff was pretty mum on the extent of his injury and wouldn’t say exactly what the issue was, but he didn’t have a brace or sling on or anything, so it’s not super severe… but bad enough that he needs to rest.
Coach Pat Quinn said that Horcoff would be out for 7 to 10 days, "Page two from the trainers’ manual."
Sheldon Souray was scheduled to do a solo skate today, and Quinn has given him the go-ahead to resume light workouts as well.