Not so super star?

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:02 AM ET

ST. LOUIS -- Ales Hemsky began the season with aspirations of taking the next step in his evolution - from impact player to elite superstar.

But in a year when most of the steps taken by Edmonton Oilers were backwards, Hemsky admits he's going to fall short of his goal.

"It was tough. It was tough for everybody," the often brilliant Czech winger said yesterday in St. Louis. "We didn't play like we wanted. It wasn't a good year for anybody.

"I can't be happy with the way I played; we didn't make the playoffs. So I'm not. I can be better. It was a tough year."

There's no denying Hemsky's impact on the Oilers - the two games he's played since returning from a shoulder injury were Edmonton's best two games, offensively, at least, in a month. They scored three goals in each, after being held to one or less in 10 of the previous 12, and posted their only win since Feb. 23.

"You miss a player who's that dynamic offensively, especially when you don't have another element, really," said head coach Craig MacTavish. "He shares the puck really well and he makes the players around him better. You can count on at least one line for some offence when he's a part of it. It makes a big difference to have him in the lineup. We've seen that in the two games that he's played."

Impact player, yes. But 51 points, even when you've missed 17 games to injury, isn't enough to lift anyone into the NHL's upper stratosphere.

And up until his two-game scoring streak - his longest of the season - he only had nine goals. Four more goals than Georges Laraque is a little less than the Oilers were counting on.

"I wish I could get more," said Hemsky, who had 19 last year.

"I probably should, I probably could, but my game is more (about) passing. I'm not the goal scorer, I'm a playmaker. My first instinct is to make a play, but that's something you can change."

He's trying. While he only registered one shot in each of his last two games, he fired several others that were either blocked or just missed. It's a departure from earlier, when he'd be looking for someone to pass it to if he was on a breakaway.

"Everybody said be more aggressive in terms of your shot selection - I bet he's heard it his whole career," said MacTavish, adding two goals in two games might have caught his attention.

"He's starting to think shoot when he gets into those scoring areas. It's a real improvement."


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