Fleet footed fellows

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:40 AM ET

Between Denis Grebeshkov, Sheldon Souray, Joni Pitkanen and Dick Tarnstrom, the Oilers' blue-line is as fleet of foot as its ever been.

"We're much, much improved in that regard from what we saw last year," said head coach Craig MacTavish, after Grebeshkov turned in his best game of camp Saturday.

With the score 4-4 after 40 minutes he was already plus-3.

"He played unreal," said MacTavish. "He was much more patient. You could see the way he moves the puck."

But who's looking after the home front? MacTavish needs a big, strong shutdown guy or two to complement all his offensive defencemen. Matt Greene is supposed to be that guy, but has started slowly this camp.

"He's not at the level he needs to be at to start the season," said MacTavish. "When you add some puck-moving defencemen you're going to need somebody who can defend. He's a guy we had earmarked for that responsibility.

"We're counting very heavily on him. His game has to get to the level it was at last year. Anything short of that will put us in a very vulnerable position defensively."

THINNING THE HERD: With back-to-back games all over the place, MacTavish has to keep a lot of players around just to keep everyone fresh, but he'll be seriously trimming this week.

"It's not really fair to make players who are trying to get a spot on your team play back-to-back games in Phoenix and the next night in Edmonton, so we'll carry the bodies," said the coach, who has over 40 guys in camp.

"You also have a better practice back home with the guys who are playing, but we'll make some cuts on Wednesday (the morning after Tuesday's game in Phoenix) and make some more cuts after the game Wednesday."

NO WORD ON MOREAU: The X-rays on Ethan Moreau's ankle were inconclusive. He left the Saddledome on crutches, unable to put any weight on his ankle, after being hit by a Adrian Aucoin shot. They won't know if it's broken until they get a better picture.


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