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    NHL notebook: Oilers' blue-line corps getting thin


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    NHL notebook: Oilers' blue-line corps getting thin Empty NHL notebook: Oilers' blue-line corps getting thin

    Post by Admin on Mon Feb 16, 2009 1:40 pm

    Canwest News Service

    The focus of the Edmonton Oilers management team shifted right around the time that Denis Grebeshkov’s right ankle was sprained. With his injury coming on the heels of Lubomir Visnovsky’s season ending shoulder surgery, it would stand to reason that the Oilers would be scoreboard-watching — and looking for a trading partner.
    But finding a replacement on the blue-line for either Grebeshkov or Visnovsky is not a likely scenario said general manager Steve Tambellini.
    “More realistically, we’ll be looking for players who can give you minutes. There is probably more focus on that now,” he said.
    “We’re not going to be able to replace a Visnovsky or a Grebeshkov at this time.
    “We’re still not certain as to the exact timeline with Grebeshkov,” continued Tambellini, who took in practice Sunday in the Phoenix Coyotes’ practice facility. “We’ll give it a couple of days to maybe get a more accurate projection as to when he can come back.”
    There have been rumblings that the Oilers should move Erik Cole, because he will be an unrestricted free agent and because he could net the team a future asset, but Tambellini shut down that line of thinking.
    “We’re right in the middle of a playoff race and Erik has played very well for us through the second half,” Tambellini said. “He’s energized, he’s going for the net . . . we’re very happy with his play. He’s a big part of us moving forward.”

    Oilers not taking Coyotes lightly
    What a difference a few weeks can make in the Western Conference. When the Edmonton Oilers and Coyotes last met on Jan. 18, the Desert Dogs were making a push up the standings and had rolled into Edmonton with an impressive record of 6-3 in their previous nine starts.
    After losing 6-3 to the Oilers that night, they have won just two of their last 10 games and they have been outscored 39-25.
    “Some times, the most dangerous teams to play are the teams that are highly motivated to change the course,” said Oilers coach Craig MacTavish.
    “They were having success based on their collective work ethic and a lot of youthful enthusiasm. That’s really tough to sustain if you lose a few games . . . but they’re plenty dangerous.”
    The Oilers are set to tangle Monday in Phoenix.

    Gretzky a Hemsky fan
    Phoenix Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky, who knows a thing or two about playing the game, had plenty of complimentary things to say about Edmonton Oilers forward Ales Hemsky.
    “I have great respect for him as a player,” Gretzky said on his team’s website. “He’s one of the elite players in the game.
    “He’s got tremendous stamina . . . he’s a gem.
    “He takes hits to make plays,” he continued. “Guys try to be physical on him but he just keeps coming back.”

    Avery happy to return to ice
    Sean Avery kept his nose clean in his first professional hockey game since completing the National Hockey League and NHL Players’ Association behavioural modification program.
    Avery was in the lineup for the American HockeyLeague’s Hartford Wolf Pack as they lost 4-1 to the Manitoba Moose Saturday night.
    “It felt good. I think it actually felt better than I expected,” Avery told Newsday. “Mentally and physically, I felt good . . . I was just happy that I was out there. It was just fun to play, fun to be around these guys and be in a team atmosphere.”
    Avery was suspended by the NHL prior to a Dec. 2 game in Calgary and hadn’t played since. The punishment came after Avery made inappropriate comments directed at actress Elisha Cuthbert, who used to date Avery but is now linked to Flames defenceman Dion Phaneuf.
    He took a regular shift and finished with more than 16 minutes of ice time.
    “It’s been a long time since I played in this league, and a long time since I played, so combine those two together and I was a little nervous,” Avery told the paper. “But that’s usually a good thing.”

    Brodeur not ready to return just yet
    Martin Brodeur will travel with the New Jersey Devils on the road this week, but it’s unlikely he’ll return to action until Feb. 26, at the earliest.
    The goaltender is recovering from bicep surgery and had his first full practice last week.
    “He’ll take the next step and go on the trip with us,” Devils head coach Brent Sutter told the Bergen Record. “How much practice we’ll have when we get in there, to be quite honest, it’s probably going to very minimal if we do any at all on the trip as far as having a full practice. But once we get back from the road, he’ll be able to go in a full practice.
    “I think it’s important for him to be there (on the trip) to be around the guys and also, even though we won’t have a full practice, certain individuals will be on the ice and we’ll continue to move forward with this process here.”
    Even without their star goaltender the Devils have moved into first place in the Atlantic Division.
    The team’s next home game is Feb. 26 against the Colorado Avalanche.

    Ice chips:

    The Edmonton Oilers have banked 15 road wins. Only Detroit (17) and Chicago (16) have more road wins in the Western Conference.

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