SUN Hockey Pool

Stoll-ed season on track

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:44 AM ET

EDMONTON -- Jarret Stoll's concussion symptoms -- which ended his 2006-07 season prematurely -- disappeared in the middle of last May.

"One day, I just woke up, and it was clear -- no symptoms -- and it lasted for a while so I started working out. Everything after that point was good," admitted the Edmonton Oilers centre. "Even better, I was in Cabo (San Lucas) at the time. Maybe it was being in Cabo."

You have to admit, spending some time on the beach, maybe sipping the odd margarita, would do wonders for anybody.

However, the first half of this season was cloudy for him. Stoll, who missed the final 30 games of last season due to two concussions suffered within days of each other, came into this year full of high hopes but fell short of his marks.

He had only one goal in the first 18 games. He went though an 18-game goal-scoring drought. He was a healthy scratch in early December.

However, the turning of the calendar seems to have agreed with the 25-year-old, who was originally drafted by the Flames.

In five games heading into last night's meeting with the Flames, Stoll had two goals and three assists.

Sure, it's not earth shattering numbers, but when you're talking about the lack of production he went through in the first half of the season, it's understandable he's excited.

However, he won't say he sputtered because of the post-concussion bout.

"I'm never going to say it was because of that at the start of the year and the struggles I had," he said. "I'm starting to play more consistent, starting to do a lot of things better.

"It feels good to have that confidence again."

So what's going right?

"I don't know. When things were going wrong, I knew some of the things -- timing, turning one way when you should be turning the other, it seems everything you do is the wrong way -- but it's tough to pinpoint," he said.

"On the other hand, when you're doing things the right way, you want the puck, you're in the right position to get the puck, you're getting scoring chances.

"Early in the season, I don't think I was getting many chances, but now I'm getting a lot and shooting the puck more.

"With that comes confidence with the play and with the puck, and in turn comes points. Some of my best games, though, I didn't have any points, so I know you don't have to earn points to play well but points seem to be coming when I do things I need to do to play well."

Stoll's bounce-back also seems to have coincided with the Oilers surge towards the playoff race. Before last night, the team had won three straight to pull within hailing distance of the other Northwest Division teams.

A week ago, they seemed destined for oblivion.

"We need a good road trip after this homestand," Stoll said. "Our homestand was the big focus -- the five games -- because we knew if we played well these five games and played well on the road, we'd be in a great position at the all-star break -- not a perfect position but a good position.

"Either way, you have to play well down the stretch, win games down the stretch, because it's so tight. We've done that in the past -- played well down the stretch while making a playoff push -- but you have to put yourself in a good position to get there.

"We're playing our best hockey because we've been playing desperate."


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