Hail o' rubber

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

Who told this kid he was Al MacInnis?

So asked a scout on Monday night at The Pond after watching Jarret Stoll pump eight shots at J.S. Giguere in the Edmonton Oilers' 4-2 win over the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

Let Oilers coach Craig MacTavish be the first to go on the record and say he told Stoll no such thing. Of course, after watching Stoll pound the puck at the net for four games, he's also quick to point out that there's probably no need to set Stoll straight just yet.

Let him think it.

"They want me to shoot the puck and if it's there, I'm going to shoot it," said Stoll, who had five shots on goal in a 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Centre Tuesday and now has 23 shots in four games.

"If it's not, I don't want to be selfish. I seem to be open right now, but that's not always going to be the case. If they take me away, that's going to open up Chris (Pronger) and Shawn (Horcoff) on the other side."

Stoll, 23, has unleashed a hail of rubber since being assigned duty on the point with the Oilers power play. The eight shots in Anaheim was a career-high for the sophomore centre.

It's no coincidence the power play had ticked along at a prolific 6-for-22 clip before going 0-for-6 in Los Angeles.

"We're doing a great job right now," Stoll said. "Especially (Horcoff) on the half-wall in reading. If I've got pressure, if the lane's there, if it's not. He's making that great pass.

"I've been put in that situation. They have the confidence to put me out there. I have confidence being out there."

With 1-3-4, Stoll's off to his best start as a pro. He didn't even get going like this in the AHL last season, one in which he was named MVP of the Road Runners after scoring 21-17-38 in 66 games.

"The thing that has surprised me is his decision-making for a relatively young guy," MacTavish said. "I don't think he's made, until this point, one tactical mistake back there.

"That has been really impressive. I didn't see as much of that last year with the Road Runners, but he wasn't working with Chris Pronger, either."

SMOOTH OPERATOR: While MacTavish gives Pronger credit for some of Stoll's success on the point, that's not the only aspect of No. 44's game that has caught the eye of the coach.

"When you get a pass from Chris, you're in good position," MacTavish said. "If he's moving you the puck, you've got time and you've got space.

"He moves it at the right time. He forces the defender to commit to him and he buys you some time. With that time comes confidence, especially for a young guy like Jarret."

Pronger went into the game with Los Angeles averaging over 28 minutes of ice time a game and logged 28:33 more Tuesday. He celebrated his 31st birthday Monday with his first two points as an Oiler -- assists on power-play goals by Marty Reasoner and Radek Dvorak in Anaheim.

With 0-2-2, Pronger's numbers don't exactly jump out at you, but the closer you watch him, the more there is to like.

"He really is the quarterback we were lacking," MacTavish said. "It's just the economy of motion and the efficiency he has back there. He's maybe the most efficient player I've ever seen. There's not much expenditure of needless energy."

IN THE BOOKS: Brad Winchester hardly saw enough action to break a sweat in the Oilers short swing through California, but he's officially in the NHL record books as playing in two games.

Winchester played 2:33 in the win over Anaheim and was a minus-2. He got five shifts for 3:36 against the Kings, finishing even.

The big rookie from Wisconsin had friends and family parked in front of the tube back home in Madison for his debut against the Ducks.

"My mom even went out and got some coffee," smiled Winchester. "My dad doesn't usually stay up that late."

AROUND THE RINK: Ty Conklin had a tough night in Los Angeles, but expect him to get the start against Dallas tomorrow ... X-rays on Igor Ulanov's ribs, injured last Saturday against Vancouver, came back negative for a fracture and he could be ready against the Stars ... Todd Harvey (high ankle sprain) might also be available against Dallas.


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