At the risk of being accused of practising medicine without a licence, it looks to me like the Edmonton Oilers might have dodged a kill-shot to the head when it comes to Jordan Eberle’s left ankle.
When Eberle, 20, emerged from the back room to talk with reporters at Rexall Place this morning, he did so without his ankle encased in that clunky walking cast he wore out of the building after Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the Calgary Flames.
That’s a fashion accessory defenceman Ryan Whitney, who I’m betting is going to get some bad news next week, as in the need for surgery to repair his right ankle, is still dragging around.
While Eberle won’t even have an MRI until Tuesday to take a second look at his ankle, which has already been X-rayed, he was dressed in tennis shoes and walking without much of a limp this morning.
All in all, Eberle didn’t look or sound like somebody destined for a long-term stint on the shelf or an impending date with the arthroscope. Amateur diagnosis? Absolutely.
BACK IN DAYS?
While Whitney hasn’t been able to hide his disappointment at the likelihood he’ll be out long-term, perhaps for the balance of the season if surgery to repair tendons is needed, Eberle was upbeat today.
"It’s been getting better every day," Eberle said. "I think it’s kind of a thing where I don’t think they want to rush it, but, at the same time, like I said, I don’t think it’s as serious as it looked."
With captain Shawn Horcoff and Whitney already out and the defence as thin as a New York runway model on a cocaine and nicotine diet, the Oilers can ill afford to lose Eberle for any length of time.
Again, though, nobody in the media scrum — granted, none of us bright enough to get near medical school with a map and a flashlight — walked out of the dressing room today feeling Eberle will be out long.
Dave Mitchell, the bald and brash local CTV sports director, even asked if Eberle might be ready to go against the Detroit Red Wings Tuesday. That might be a stretch, but not much of one.
IN THE MEANTIME
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Eberle make the trip to Vancouver for a Friday date with the Canucks. If his ankle doesn’t blow up on the flight to the west coast, he might get away with missing just two games. If not, the Oilers are in Dallas next Tuesday. Again, strictly an amateur diagnosis with the MRI yet to come.
As far as tomorrow against the Red Wings goes, Renney will have to juggle his lines. This morning, he ran Magnus Paajarvi with Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky, Taylor Hall with Andrew Cogliano and Dustin Penner, J.F. Jacques alongside Gilbert Brule and Ryan Jones and Steve MacIntyre with Colin Fraser and Zack Stortini.
With the call-up of Liam Reddox and Linus Omark from Oklahoma City this afternoon, you’ll see Renney whip out the blender and come up with some new combinations tomorrow.
In any case, it’s looking like days, as opposed weeks or months, before Eberle is back in the fold.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.