SUN Hockey Pool

Missing in action

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:15 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- After being red-hot in the playoffs and leading the post-season goal-scoring parade last spring, Fernando Pisani has been cold as ice in the Edmonton Oilers first four games this season.

Pisani, who scored 14 goals in the Oilers march to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final against Carolina, has struggled since the puck dropped on the 2006-07 campaign. He doesn't have a point.

Hampered by a sore right knee that might be more of a factor than Pisani is letting on, he was held off the score sheet again in Saturday's 4-3 win over Colorado and was a minus-2.

Not the start he wanted.

'FRUSTRATED'

"You get a little bit frustrated, but it's still early in the season," said Pisani, who has been playing more than 17 minutes a night on a line with Jarret Stoll and Ethan Moreau.

"We've only played four games, so you can't get too down. You just have to stay positive and work hard.

"Obviously, the puck will bounce your way sooner or later."

Pisani, 29, rewarded with a four-year contract worth $2.5 million per season after his stellar playoff performance, has just six shots on goal through four games - not the stuff of a player being counted on to score 20 goals or more.

The knee, which flared up during pre-season and has kept him out of several practises and morning skates, including one in Denver yesterday before the team flew to Vancouver, is clearly a mitigating factor. To his credit, Pisani isn't using it as an excuse.

"It's been sore," said Pisani, who expects to be in the lineup against the Canucks tonight. "When I'm playing, it doesn't seem to bother me too much. It's just the day after.

"You go through stretches where the puck starts to follow you and the next thing you know it's going in the back of the net. The main thing is to not get discouraged or too down on yourself."

Slow starts are nothing new for Pisani. He went six games at the start of last season without a point and didn't score his first goal until his 12th game.

While the plan is to continue to have Pisani play through the problem, at least in the short-term, there's a chance he'll have to sit for a game or two, and even have the knee scoped.

"I'm just resting it when I can and, hopefully, in a little bit of time it will get better," said Pisani, who has had an MRI on the knee.

"I'll try to exercise every option before surgery. I hope it doesn't come down to that."

AROUND THE RINK

Daniel Tjarnqvist played 27:36 Saturday, a season high for the Oilers ice-time leader ... Brad Winchester continues to be used sparingly, getting 1:58 of ice time against Colorado, and he remains the likeliest candidate to come out of the lineup for J.F. Jacques or Alexei Mikhnov.


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