SUN Hockey Pool

Line of fire

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:08 AM ET

They both had forgettable seasons, but for different reasons.

Raffi Torres struggled with his consistency, which affected his confidence and therefore his play.

Jarret Stoll got hurt, bringing a promising year to a pre-mature end.

Both are back this season. Both are playing on the same line. And both are important contributors to the success of the Edmonton Oilers.

"Personally there are a lot of reasons that I want to have a good year and team-wise we have a lot of personnel to do well," said Stoll.

"You never know until the season starts what you've got and what you're made off, but we feel we're a very capable team and once we get into those playoffs, anything can happen as we all well know."

Stoll and Torres were key factors in the Oilers' march to the Stanley Cup final two seasons ago. Last year, however, Torres, 25, was unable to regain the form which saw him score a career-high 27 goals the previous season.

The Torontonian finished with 15 goals and 19 assists in 82 game s, matching his lowest total as a full-time NHLer.

RE-SIGNED TO EXTENSION

Regardless, the Oilers signed Torres to a three-year, $6.75-million US extension expecting the six-foot, 216-pound winger to regain his form.

"Raffi has always been a fast starter and I'm looking for him to have some chemistry with Stollie and Robert (Nilsson)," MacTavish said.

"Hopefully, Raffi can get some confidence early and help us offensively. I don't think he's lacking confidence at all, and that's very important for any player's game, but Raffi in particular."

During the Oilers' playoff run two seasons ago, Torres made a name for himself with his physical play.

However, partly due to the short off-season, that physical play was lacking last year.

With the Oilers having missed the playoffs, Torres and the rest of the squad have had plenty of time to rest, recuperate and prepare for the upcoming year.

"It's been great, the body has had a chance to recuperate and I'm looking forward to the season," Torres said.

Stoll, 25, was one of the few Oilers having a strong season before a concussion ended his campaign. The six-foot-one, 197-pound centre had 13 goals and 26 assists in 51 games before having to pull the plug on the year. He was one of two players on the Oilers roster to finish with a plus rating last season.

SEARCH FOR CONSISTENCY

"I want to try and be as consistent as possible and I want to start off where I left off last year before I got hurt," Stoll said. "I felt that I was coming on and playing my best hockey and I want to get back to that stage as quick as possible."

Despite being forced to miss the last third of the season with concussion symptoms, Stoll is not concerned heading into this year.

He's fully recovered and ready to take on the numerous duties for the Oilers again this season.

"It's not bothering me in my head or anything," he said.

"Sometimes with concussions you could be on your way to recovery, but mentally it's still in the back of your mind. But I'm focused, I'm there and I want to get the season going."

It's a season which very much hinges on the success of Stoll, Torres and the Oilers' second line.

"We need plus hockey out of that line, regardless of how they do it," MacTavish said. "Whether they're very stringent defensively and semi-productive offensively, or whether they're totally mass produce offensive and they give up a little more defensively. But we need that line to be a positive factor, a plus line for us to really have success."\


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