| OILERS at COYOTES: |
AT THE MORNING SKATE
After taking a full day off Super Bowl Sunday, the Oilers were slightly revamped during Monday's morning skate at Jobing.com Arena. But rather than opting for a youthful makeover, the club was a little bit more experienced, especially on the blue line. After missing 10 and eight games respectively due to concussions, defencemen Steve Staios and Ladislav Smid will return to the line-up tonight vs. the Coyotes.
"I'm really excited," Smid said after the skate. "It's been almost three weeks since I played the last game, and I just feel 100% and really excited to be back in the line-up."
"When you sit up there (in the press box) the game looks really simple, but on the ice it's a different story. It's always fast. I watched six games, I think it was, and I hope it's going to help me sort out the game."
Smid is expected to be paired with Lubomir Visnovsky tonight, while Staios should skate with Jason Strudwick. As a result of the players' return, youngsters Taylor Chorney and Alex Plante were reassigned to the AHL's Springfield Falcons Sunday afternoon. BRULE & NILSSON BACK IN
Another two players who are looking forward to seeing some game action tonight are Gilbert Brule and Robert Nilsson. The forwards were healthy scratches for the past few games and are eager to put the experience behind them.
"Obviously I'm very excited to be back in the line-up -- that's where I want to be, and I've just got to treat it like any other game and give it my best foot forward," Brule said. "I think [the coaches] just want me to go out and play my game, be more consistent. I think that's the key. I need to get more shots on net, I need to get hits, I need to skate. That's my game."
Brule will play with Ryan Potulny and Patrick O'Sullivan tonight, and he had only good things to say about his linemates.
"It's a great line we're playing; we have a lot of speed," he said. "Pots (Potulny) is a really smart defensive player, and we can all score goals, we can all make plays, and we all work hard."
Nilsson is expected to skate with Dustin Penner and Marc Pouliot.
"Bobby is one of those guys that you spot, you see the potential for big plays, and you hope that you find the consistency that you'd like to have there," Head Coach Pat Quinn said. "Bru, when he was healthy, he was playing quite well for us and is our third scorer I think still, even though he's missed a bunch of games."
GAGNER RETURNS HOME
After aggravating his knee Saturday night in Colorado, Sam Gagner made the trip to Phoenix with the team but will fly back to Edmonton today for assessment.
"I hurt my knee a couple of weeks ago and it's just been bugging me and getting worse," he explained. "I just tweaked it a couple times, so Kenny (Lowe, Oilers Head Athletic Therapist) pulled me and we talked about maybe going back and getting this done.
"If there's nothing structurally wrong, I'm going to maybe revisit the team in Anaheim (on Wednesday) and play there, and obviously if there's something wrong, get that fixed so it will be good going into the (Olympic) break."
ODD MAN OUT UNKNOWN
With Brule and Nilsson back in, and Gagner out, the Oilers must scratch another forward tonight. After the morning skate, Quinn still wasn't sure who that would be.
"My list is probably one of six, so I haven't finished spinning the wheel yet," he said.
COYOTES 6 - OILERS 1
Although Edmonton kept pace with Phoenix in shots throughout the game, the home team did a much better job of making theirs count. The Coyotes scored two goals in each period, and while Dustin Penner ruined Ilya Bryzgalov's perfect game with a late Oilers marker, it wasn't enough to challenge for the win. As a result, the Coyotes trotted away with a 6-1 victory Monday night.
Author: Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com