SUN Hockey Pool

Replacing Ryan

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:35 AM ET

The audition call has been given in the Edmonton Oilers' dressing room.

Needing to find someone to fill Ryan Smyth's void on the club's first line and on the power play, Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish already has some names in mind.

"We will be auditioning that ice time with a collection of people," said the coach yesterday afternoon.

"Petr Sykora may get some ice time. Petr Nedved may get some more power play ice time."

Nedved didn't even dress on Tuesday night, the first game without Smyth after he was dealt to the New York Islanders.

Right-handed Fernando Pisani started Tuesday's game in Smyth's old spot on left wing beside centre Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky.

He also started the Oilers' first power play in Smyth's regular position in front of the net.

"He is very capable of playing the left side," said MacTavish.

But with Smyth leading the club with 31 goals before he left, Pisani is trying to make it clear that he won't be completely filling Smyth's huge shoes.

"I am not looking to go out there and replace Smytty," said Pisani. "No one is going to fill Smytty's (void).

"I am the same player I was last year: a two-way player who is going to try to contribute offensively and make good plays defensively.

"To say I am going to replace Smytty is not going to be the case."

Pisani has 12 goals in 58 games and exactly 30 fewer points than Smyth.

Whoever gets the role as the No. 1 left winger on the team, Horcoff knows it is going to take time to adjust to the new face.

"When you play with a guy for that long - it has almost been three years (with Smyth on the left side) - you really get accustomed to how he plays," said Horcoff.

"Whoever Mac (coach MacTavish) figures is going to play there on the left side with me and Hemmer, we are just going to have to get used to him. It takes a few games. Everybody's style is different."

But MacTavish isn't viewing the final five weeks of the season as a writeoff and just solely a chance to play around with line combinations.

"I am coaching to win (today). I am not coaching to win Game 1 of the 2007-08 season," said MacTavish.

"And I know the players are playing to win (tonight)."

FINISH LINES: MacTavish admitted yesterday he thought of Smyth while standing on the bench in the third period on Tuesday night against the Phoenix Coyotes.

"It crossed my mind when we had the five on three (power play) opportunity because that is a real area of strength of his game to get in the sight lines of the goaltender," recalled MacTavish.

The Oilers failed to score on all of their power play chances on Tuesday.

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WHO TO WATCH

ALES HEMSKY, OILERS

Hasn't scored a goal in 11 games and is without Ryan Smyth.

MARIAN GABORIK, WILD

Three goals in his last three games against Oilers.

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GAME NOTES

Defenceman Ladislav Smid could return to the Oilers lineup after sitting out Tuesday's game with a charley horse injury. "He has been missed," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish ... Regular Wild starting goalie Manny Fernandez has missed 12 straight games for the Wild with a knee injury, leaving the bulk of the load to Niklas Backstrom. The first star in the NHL last week (3-0 record, 1.62 GAA), Backstrom is somewhat suspect, though, in back-to-back games. He gave up five goals in two periods against St. Louis when he was last asked to play back-to-back games. He played in Calgary last night. With just 18 minutes of NHL experience this year, Josh Harding is Minnesota's back-up goalie ... The Wild will play seven of its next nine games on the road.

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HURT PARADE

OILERS: LW Ethan Moreau (shoulder), C Jarret Stoll (concussion), D Tom Gilbert (concussion), D Daniel Tjarnqvist (inflamed pubic bone).

MINNESOTA: G Manny Fernandez (knee), C Jason Morgan (thigh).


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