SUN Hockey Pool

New age for Pisani

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:57 AM ET

Considering all he went through last season, Fernando Pisani could care less where the Edmonton Oilers are asking him to play.

If they needed a goaltender - highly unlikely considering the current logjam in the crease - Pisani would probably strap on the pads and stand in front of slapshots.

It hasn't come to that yet. All the Oilers are asking the local product to do is switch from wing to centre in order to play with Ethan Moreau and Dustin Penner.

'MORE COMFORTABLE'

Pisani has spent all of the preseason working on making the adjustment.

"I'm starting to feel a little more comfortable there," Pisani said.

"I'm getting a little more confident in faceoffs. Just being in that position is something to get used to, and I think every day I practice I'm feeling more confident in that position."

Pisani, 31, has traditionally been a right-winger.

The move by the team was precipitated by the arrival of Erik Cole who will play on the top line and the effectiveness of the kid line, who will start together again.

Penner, who led the Oilers with 23 goals last season, made the move from the left side to the right side in order to play on the unit.

He has adjustments of his own to make - the toughest of which is taking the puck off the boards in his own zone on the breakout.

Pisani needs to be good in the faceoff circle. The departure of Jarret Stoll and Marty Reasoner has left a void in that department.

Shawn Horcoff can't take all the draws.

"As a winger you don't really hone in on those skills, or appreciate them," Pisani said. "Now being there, you have the appreciation for that spot."

Having Horcoff at his disposal should help. He's considered one of the top faceoff men around.

"You just try to pick up little odds and ends, and ask question about hand positions and stick positions and just those little things that make a huge difference when you're taking faceoffs," Pisani said. "

"It's a bit of everything. It's timing, strength, and just reading what the other guys is doing - try to get his tendencies down whenever you're going up against him.

"It's a lot of repetition and practice."

Billy Moore's arm is probably close to falling off with all the pucks he's dropped for Pisani in practice.

The Oilers assistant coach works with all the Oilers centres on faceoffs.

Along with the draws, Pisani also has to adjust to new defensive assignments playing in the middle.

Generally, there is more skating at the centre position, having to go from slot-to-slot.

"The defensive zone hasn't been too bad. I'm used to playing down low," Pisani said. "Whoever the centreman was, you're always in a position that whoever is the first guy back in the zone is the first guys down low.

"It's not anything new to me. It's just a little bit more skating as a centreman. It's been a work in progress, and every day I'm hoping to get better."

On Sunday against the Dallas Stars, Pisani was 3-for-9 in the faceoff circle. He finished the preseason without a point in four games.

OPENING LINEUP

Last season, Pisani missed the first portion of the year suffering from the effects of ulcerative colitis.

He'll be in the opening night lineup when the Oilers host the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday.

"Right now, I'm trying to focus in on this new position and I want to make sure I'm working on those little things like practicing face-offs and being good out in the defensive zone in the support areas," he said.

"That's all I've been working on, hoping to get comfortable in that position."


Videos

Photos