SUN Hockey Pool

Crowding the net

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 1:41 PM ET

LONG ISLAND -- Edmonton Oilers GM Kevin Lowe and agent Kurt Overhardt, who represents Ty Conklin, met in Philadelphia Thursday.

It was nothing more than a casual conversation, at least to hear Lowe and Overhardt tell it.

Understandably, Lowe and Overhardt both played down the potential for problems because of overcrowding in Edmonton's goal crease with Mike Morrison, Jussi Markkanen and Conklin on the roster.

The obvious scenario is that Lowe might be coaxed into trading one of his stoppers rather than risk losing one of them by having them clear waivers before being sent to the minors.

"Stay tuned, I guess, is the answer," Lowe said before the Oilers edged the Flyers 3-2 at the Wachovia Center.

"We need to get Ty back healthy and playing. If Mike continues to play well, that's great. We might have to carry three goalies for a couple weeks or a month. In a perfect world, Mac (Craig MacTavish) doesn't want to have three, but ..."

Conklin, 29, whose struggles have been well documented, hasn't started a game for the Oilers in over a month. On loan to the Hartford Wolf Pack for a conditioning stint, he started last night against Springfield and made 34 saves in a 4-3 shootout win.

He'll start against the Philadelphia Phantoms tonight and then rejoin the Oilers in New York tomorrow. Assuming Conklin has no problems with the groin that's been nagging him, he is expected to get the start against New Jersey Tuesday. If it plays out that way, three's a crowd.

"I'm sure when Ty gets his opportunity, which the club is working on, he'll be fine," Overhardt said. "The situation will stabilize itself. It's easy to overreact when you're not winning right away."

Asked if a trade is inevitable or if he's put out word around the league that one of his stoppers is available, Lowe insists that's not the case.

"Everybody knows we have three goaltenders," Lowe said. "It's like Buffalo has three goaltenders. We'll get by today, tomorrow and the next day and move along like that.

"At some point, we're going to have to make a decision, but Buffalo is a prime example that you can expect the unexpected. They had one goalie go down and then another. Like that, they had to scramble."

Likewise, Overhardt says he hasn't requested the Oilers trade Conklin or even suggested that might be an option.

"I'm not one of those guys who is going to give my opinion to try to argue my case in the newspaper," Overhardt said. "We've talked, but what Kevin and I talk about goes to Ty and nobody else.

"It's a long season. Ty is a winner. He always has been a winner.

"He's a man of character. It'll work itself out."

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IT WASN'T A MASTERPIECE

Craig MacTavish isn't giving the two points back, but he isn't deluding himself into thinking Thursday's 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers was a masterpiece, either.

The Oilers won their fourth straight game on the road, but they got out of the blocks slowly and it took two shorthanded goals by Ethan Moreau and 30 saves from Mike Morrison to keep the streak alive.

"Yes, we're happy we got the win. That's a step in itself. The fact of the matter is we were playing a pretty depleted lineup in Philadelphia," MacTavish said.

"Nobody thinks for a minute that if we make the same amount of mistakes (tonight), we're going to get away with it. They've got a healthier lineup. They have guys who can capitalize on those types of chances.''

Accused of sugar-coating losses at times, MacTavish says it's a two-way street - raised expectations mean there's room to improve, even when the score sheet shows a favourable outcome.

"We've got to face facts about how we play," he said.

"... We needed a couple of great individual performances by a couple of individuals on our team, Ethan in particular.''


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