It's a rough time for Raffi

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:35 AM ET

It goes without saying Raffi Torres isn't happy about being demoted to the fourth line by Edmonton Oilers coach Craig MacTavish after starting the season alongside Petr Sykora and Ales Hemsky.

At the same time, Torres isn't deluding himself as to why MacTavish flipped his spot with rookie Patrick Thoresen.

Torres is struggling. He's not in denial.

"I'm not scoring and I'm not playing my game," said Torres, who skated with Marty Reasoner and Brad Winchester last night.

"I feel like I'm skating well, getting in spots and getting my chances, but I've got to get back to finishing the body and being a physical presence."

It's not like Torres has been awful, but with Thoresen impressing early, MacTavish wants to see more of him.

"I think you guys made more of this than Raffi did or I did," MacTavish told assembled media yesterday.

"This is just an opportunity (for Thoresen). Those things are quickly changed. Raffi is an important part of our team. We need Raffi to have success ... not only from a goal-scoring perspective but from a physical perspective.

"If Raffi's on that fourth line for any length of time, then it's bad news for the hockey club."

Coming off a 27-goal season, more is expected of Torres. That said, the Oilers are just seven games into the season and it's not like MacTavish is going to stand pat with his lines.

None of his forward combinations is etched in stone, including the line of Ryan Smyth, Shawn Horcoff and Joffrey Lupul. There's a good chance, in fact, MacTavish will give rookie Alexei Mikhnov his first game action when the Phoenix Coyotes come calling tomorrow.

"I'll be the first one to say that if I'm not doing the job and somebody else is, don't put me out there," Torres said. "That's just a part of being on the team.

"There's certain guys you want use when they're rolling. Get them out there.

"If he's playing better than I am, I better get my butt in gear and get to the level I have to be at."


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