ANAHEIM -- The Edmonton Oilers' plight isn't lost on Chris Pronger.
Sitting in his Ducks' locker-room stall with his broken left toe literally sticking out of his shoe, Pronger candidly admits to following the injury saga surrounding his old team.
"They are the real walking wounded right now, especially on the back end," said Pronger yesterday.
"The number of injuries they have had puts anybody behind the eight ball.
"It is a tough position."
HOW FAR THEY'VE FALLEN
From a rock-solid defensive core in the Stanley Cup finals last year - featuring Chris Pronger, Jaroslav Spacek, Dick Tarnstrom, Steve Staios, Jason Smith, Matt Greene and Marc-Andre Bergeron - only Smith and Greene dressed for the Oilers last night at the Honda Center.
Out of commission for probably another two weeks, Pronger didn't dress for the Ducks.
"It is amazing," said Pronger on the difference in the Oilers' roster from one year ago.
There is also a genuine hint of surprise in his voice when talking about Ryan Smyth being moved to the New York Islanders at the trade deadline last month.
"I was a little surprised that they didn't get that worked out," he remarked.
"But you look at the situation they are in.
"They get a first-round pick and two other young prospects that can probably contribute in the next couple of years.
"They are getting younger and with this year pretty much a write-off with the injuries, they have got to be building for next year.
"And certainly that is a move that helps in that direction and gives them cap space to try and sign guys."
But Pronger will be playing in the Stanley Cup playoffs this year. The toe injury will actually leave him fresh for the grueling playoff grind.
But after stubbing his toe in the worst possible way - his left foot slipped off a bench and slammed into the floor - the pain was severe.
"When I did it I was yelping like a dog," he cracked.
"I ran into the training room screaming and yelling and threw some ice on it right away."
Teammates with the OHL's London Knights for three years, Corey Perry treated Oilers' defenceman Danny Syvret to a home-cooked meal on Thursday night in Anaheim.
Thankfully for Perry, he had family available to cook the meal.
As for their head-to-head battle last night, there were no surprises.
"He knows all my moves and I know all of his," cracked Perry.
MEMORIES OF A VICIOUS FLU
Oilers forward J.F. Jacques is just thankful to be eating. Period.
A victim of the flu bug earlier this week, life is returning to normal.
"The first meal I had in two days was (Thursday) night," said Jacques, who doesn't want to step on a scale to see how much weight he has lost.
"It is getting better."
An emergency replacement on defence right now, Oilers forward Toby Petersen might eventually become a regular component on the blue-line.
"If he can play there and do OK, we will keep him there," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish.
Petersen admits the thought of becoming a puck-moving defenceman has crossed his mind.
"You look at a guy like Bergie," he said, referring to former Oiler and now Islanders rearguard Marc-Andre Bergeron, "he is my size, similar build, can skate.
"I have always thought in a worst case scenario I could step back there."