Souray soon

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:07 AM ET

This time, Sheldon Souray doesn't anticipate any false alarms.

He's been skating and shooting hard in practice for a while now and says he should be ready to return to the Oilers blueline sometime next week.

"Feeling pretty good, getting closer every day," said Souray, who separated his shoulder in an Oct. 13 fight in Vancouver. "Things have been right on schedule."

The last time Souray said he was a really close to coming back was four weeks ago, before a relapse put him back on the shelf.

"It wasn't a setback," he said. "I was just overly optimistic. Being a new guy and wanting to prove myself... I wanted to get back and get in the lineup as soon as I could. I needed a little more time to heal and get things settled down. That's exactly what we did."

The shoulder feels good, now he has to get his wind up to NHL standards.

"You forget how quickly you fall out of shape," he said. "Or how good a shape these guys are in. Even something like a game-day skate, which is 20 minutes in the morning, you start sucking wind towards the end of it, and that's just their warm-up. You really have to condition yourself so you're in top shape when you get back."

It helps that he's coming back to a team that's still in the playoff hunt. There were times during his injury when it looked like the season would be over before he got back.

"That was something we discussed," he said of trying to weather the injury storm. "If we could just stay in the picture, and the guys have. They've played really, really good lately. It's going to be fun to come back to this team.''

Souray says when everyone is back and healthy, the Oilers will really be in a position to make some noise.

"This team believes in each other and ourselves quite a bit," he said.

"At the start of camp, we were saying this team could be pretty good. We knew there were going to be peaks and valleys because this is a young team and there were a lot of new faces, things don't just come together right away.

"There's a lot of hockey left this year and we've got a good team."

TOUGH CALL: When Souray does come back, the Oilers will have to trim a defenceman, which is going to be a tough call the way Allan Rourke has performed.

"He's played really well for us, he has a head for the game," said Craig MacTavish.

"Really what more do you want from a number six defenceman than what he's given us.

"He's given us 11 games of flawless hockey for 12, 13, 14 minutes a game. He steps up, makes plays, blocks shots, moves the puck well.

"It's going to be difficult."


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