SUN Hockey Pool

Reasoner solution

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:48 AM ET

Marty Reasoner hasn't been a goal scorer for 10 years. For Joffrey Lupul, it just feels that long.

Maybe together, Reasoner, who has evolved into a reliable NHL player after being a big scorer at Boston College, and Lupul, who can't find the twine with a map and a flashlight right now, can get something going.

With Edmonton Oilers coach Craig MacTavish having thrown the former BC pivot and a languishing Lupul on a line with Toby Petersen, we'll find out soon enough, starting tonight against Colorado.

"I've played with everyone so far," Lupul said. "Hopefully, I'd like to find some chemistry with someone.

"That's just how it's been this year. We've had some tough injuries, so I haven't been on the same line for more than five games. We're just trying to find a combination that works."

TWO GOALS IN LAST 12

Without a goal his last six games and with just two in his last dozen, Lupul has nine goals after 32 games. After scoring 28 with Anaheim last season, that's mediocre, at best.

The problem is, so-so doesn't cut it. Not in Lupul's hometown. Not when he's been the second-best player the Oilers got for sending Chris Pronger to Anaheim.

Ladislav Smid has over-achieved. Lupul? Not so much.

"When things are going good for you, you have thousands of people waiting to pat you on the back," Lupul said of playing in a hockey-mad city. "Now, it's the opposite. I'll stick with it. It's a tough stretch, but things will get better."

The issue for the 23-year-old from Fort Saskatchewan involves both substance and style. Hand-holding aside, Lupul hasn't been good enough. He hasn't been productive enough. There's no getting around that.

That's compounded by Lupul's style. He's a finisher. His ticket isn't banging the boards, dropping the gloves or making dressing room speeches. He isn't blood and guts like Jason Smith or Ethan Moreau. If Lupul isn't scoring, he isn't doing jack-you-know-what. That's the perception.

"He's been getting some opportunities," MacTavish said. "He works hard, but as I said before, you get a little out of sync in your game and it always speaks to efficiency. You've got to get efficiency back in your game.

"I haven't yet been able to find him some linemates he's really been able to generate some good chemistry with."

REASONER MIGHT FIT

Enter Reasoner, who might not seem a match for Lupul, but who used to light it up at BC - 33 goals and 73 points in 42 games in 1997-98 - and might be the pivot Lupul needs.

"I think he's going to be more effective if we do the manual labour and get him in good spots to get the puck," Reasoner said.

"For the majority of my career, I've looked to pass first. Hopefully, I can get him the puck in places where he gets the chances he needs. You try to work together and play off each other's strengths."

With 17 shots in his last six games, Lupul's been on the sniff. Still, close but no cigar isn't any consolation. Not to fans. Not to Lupul, stripped of the anonymity he enjoyed in Anaheim.

Yesterday, Lupul had 10 reporters waiting on him after practice. You don't get that many in the entire rink most game nights down south.

"It's harder to take your mind off it here," Lupul said.

"In Anaheim, you could go do a hundred other things and no one would bother you.

"Here, you go sit at home all day. Nor do I want to see a lot of people, especially friends and family right now. It's not a great time.

"On the other hand, it's a long season. It's only 30 games (32 played so far).

"Hopefully, I can turn it around."


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