Laraque hurtin', Dvorak's back

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:20 AM ET

There was no Laraque-Boogaard IV last night when the Minnesota Wild came calling.

Georges Laraque was scratched for the encounter with a hip flexor. Radek Dvorak, coming back from a hip injury of his own, took Laraque's spot in the lineup.

"I hurt it against Vancouver," Laraque said. "Against Colorado I still tried it and it was bothering me a lot. I wasn't 100%, but I still tried to play."

In the seven meetings between Edmonton and Minnesota this year, Laraque and Wild tough guy Derek Boogaard have tangled three times. Last night Boogaard did not dress either - he was a healthy scratch.

However, it was Laraque's legs that made him a liability, not his hands.

"Georges has played as well as he has because of his skating," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish.

"This injury is hampering his ability to skate at the level that he was."

Dvorak missed the Oilers' recent three-game road trip due to a hip flexor as well. He was back yesterday playing on the Oilers fourth line with Todd Harvey and Michael Peca.

"We're fortunate that Devo is back ready to play so we can give Georges some time off," MacTavish said. "The longer I'm in this thing, the more I understand that it's important to have guys in the lineup that are 100%.

"A lot of time you'll have guys in the lineup that are less than 100% because they have been there before. We want guys that are healthy."

Laraque's injury comes at a time when he was playing arguably his best hockey of the season.

Peca, Laraque and Harvey had formed a formidable fourth line, which was earning a lot of ice time.

"We were into the game a lot more," Harvey said. "The more you are into the game, the more you are going to do out there. We've been able to create down low, play with some energy and get some scoring chances."

"They were playing well because George was skating," MacTavish said. "I thought he laboured skating-wise in Colorado and the line's effectiveness was reduced because of that."


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