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Time to shake it up

by Bob Stauffer / Edmonton Oilers
After watching his team generate just one goal in the last two games, Edmonton Oilers Head Coach Craig MacTavish elected to shake up his lines Friday Morning as the Oilers hit the ice for a practice after a disappointing 4-1 loss Thursday night in Denver.

Erik Cole was moved off of the top line and was playing his natural right wing position on a unit with Ethan Moreau and Marc Pouliot at practice.

Dustin Penner, who was the Oilers best player against the Avalanche was playing left wing with Andrew Cogliano and Sam Gagner.

Robert Nilsson was moved off the “kid line” and was playing left wing with Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky.

The Oilers energy line of Zack Stortini, Kyle Brodziak and Steve Macintyre remained the same.

The numbers for the Oilers top line of Cole-Horcoff-Hemsky speak for themselves.

They played six games together and scored just one goal at even strength, though they did have their best five-on-five game of the season against the Av’s.

To put things in perspective they had only combined for ten points in the Oilers first six games, and nine of those were on the powerplay. Colorado’s top unit of Ryan Smyth, Paul Statsny and Milan Hejduk had 24 points in their first six games.

Hemsky who has five powerplay assists in six games, now has not scored a goal in 15 regular games dating back to last season.

Cole to his credit has played fairly well in his last three games.

Sam Gagner has struggled out of the gate and is scoreless in six games, while Nilsson has fought the puck since a strong one goal, one assist performance against the Flames in Calgary on October. 17th.

Fernando Pisani is likely to miss his second straight game Saturday night in Vancouver with an upper body injury; while Steve Staois is slated to return after leaving the team for a couple of games to attend to personal matters.

The Oilers need to get it going in Vancouver.

If they could get a win out in the West Coast and take care of business against the Boston Bruins on Monday they would be in a position where they would be 6-2 heading off on a long two-week, seven-game road trip.

The Long and Short of it

Have to give the Calgary Flames 5’11”, 195 pound Brandon Prust credit for stepping up in weight class and dropping the flippers with the aforementioned Oilers behemoth Macintyre who is 6’5”, and 250, after Macintyre crushed Dustin Boyd with a bone-jarring hit last Saturday night.
One thing about Prust, he is not very selective.

Two seasons ago in the American Hockey League Prust came to the defence of Flames prospect Andrei Taratukin who was smoked by 5’7”, 170 pound Ben Thomson of the Houston Aeros.

Prust did a bit of a number on Thomson, who some of you might remember as the guy who scored a brilliant game-tying goal for the Alberta Golden Bears in the 2005 University Cup Final, prior to scoring the eventual game-winner in overtime.

Something in the Water

Current Oilers General Manager Steve Tambellini played with the Flames in the mid 1980’s and though they were over-shadowed by the Oilers of that era they were prolific in their own right.

Tambellini, current Oilers scout Kent Nilsson, and current Wisconsin Head Coach Mike Eaves, were all members of the Flames at that time and all had boys within a one year span that would end up being selected in the first round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

Tambellini’s son Jeff who was born on April 13th, 1984, went 27th overall with the Los Angeles Kings that year and was traded to the New York islanders with current Oiler Denis Grebeshkov for Mark Parrish and Brent Sopel in a trade deadline day deal in March of 2006.

Kent Nilsson, who was known as the “magic man” during his playing days, is the father of current Oiler Robert Nilsson, who was born Jan. 10th, 1985. Robert Nilsson was selected 15th overall in the 2003 NHL draft by the New York Islanders, and was pilfered away from Long Island in a the much-maligned (at that time) Ryan Smyth-trade at the 2007 NHL trade deadline.

Eaves son Patrick was born May 1st, 1984, and was selected 29th overall by the Ottawa Senators in the 2003 draft. He is currently is playing for the Carolina Hurricanes.
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