Georges just wants a goal

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 1:16 PM ET

Having outgrown the annual pre-season ritual of predicting how many goals he'd score, big Georges Laraque has considerably more modest aspirations these days.

The Edmonton Oilers tough guy just wants to make a dent in the NHL's heavyweight points derby by scoring a goal - something he hasn't done in 45 games, dating back to March 16, 2004. Even a heavy-handed hammer like Darcy Hordichuk, who'll come calling at Rexall Place with the Nashville Predators tonight, has three goals.

The good news for Laraque is he'll have as good a chance to make the twine bulge against the Predators as he's had in a long time - he's been promoted to a line with Jarret Stoll and Raffi Torres.

"It does bother me. You see my stats and the zero looks bad," Laraque said. "A lot of the other tough guys have at least scored a goal."

Laraque, who has five assists in the 36 games he's played, had lots of jump in Wednesday's 4-2 loss to Minnesota, prompting Craig MacTavish to bump him in pecking order and ice time tonight.

"When his legs are going, he's a factor," MacTavish said. "When he's slow-footed, he gets taken advantage of at times.

"When you're on the fourth line, it's tough to get ice time because of the amount of penalties and situations we've been in. You almost need to get on that third line if you're going to get 10-plus minutes."

Laraque, who went into Wednesday averaging just 5:53 of ice time a night, had his feet moving early and played 11:46 against the Wild.

"It's nice to be rewarded," Laraque said. "If I get more ice time, I get more opportunity. I know if I play more I can contribute to the team. I want to be a bigger factor than I've been."

GREENE DAY: Rookie defenceman Matt Greene is a distinct possibility on MacTavish's line-up card against Nashville tonight.

Greene, 22, has yet to see action, despite being summoned from Iowa of the AHL twice this season, but the former University of North Dakota captain has impressed with his work ethic and he looked sharp at Rexall Place yesterday morning.

"He's ready for a game," MacTavish said. "The only thing left to determine is when he's going to get that opportunity."

Greene skated with Marc-Andre Bergeron yesterday, while Steve Staios took turns alongside Chris Pronger and regular partner Jason Smith. Cory Cross and Igor Ulanov were the other tandem.

AROUND THE RINK ... The Oilers haven't lost three straight games this season since their seven-game slide Oct. 11-25.


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