SUN Hockey Pool

More to it than a sit-down

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:28 AM ET

With just one goal in the last 12 games he's played, Brad Winchester got yanked from the Edmonton Oilers' lineup in favour of Alexei Mikhnov last night.

Lack of production was obviously a factor in that decision, but coach Craig MacTavish didn't leave any doubt there was more to it than that in deciding to give Mikhnov a look and Winchester the hook last night.

"You've got to find a way to be a physical factor," MacTavish said of the big winger from Wisconsin. "If you're not, then we'll try to put somebody in who we think can put the puck in the net."

Winchester, 25, was particularly effective during a five-game road trip at the start of November, but he has struggled to find the back of the net, and to take the body enough for MacTavish's liking, in recent weeks. He's scored 4-4-8 in 29 games.

"There are a few guys we could take out, I guess, right now, but you've got to provide some physical play," said MacTavish. "We need that.

"You've got to be a factor. If you're not a factor in the game, what good are you, whether you're playing seven minutes or 10 minutes?"

MacTavish inserted Mikhnov on a line with Marty Reasoner and Patrick Thoresen against the Wild, although Thoresen was also a candidate for a perch in the cheap seats. The play of the Norwegian rookie has tailed off since the first few weeks of the season.

"Maybe it's a bad example, but you look at Bucky (Kelly Buchberger)," said MacTavish. "Fifteen years into his career, if things weren't going well, he was scrapping, much to the chagrin of his wife and family.

"You've got to find a way to be a contributor. If you're not a contributor, you're a passenger. If you're a passenger, well, you can fill in the blanks."


Videos

Photos