Ouch ... Oilers 28% on faceoffs

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:37 AM ET

The Oilers knew their faceoff totals would start sagging when Jarret Stoll and Marty Reasoner left town, but nobody was expecting a droop like this.

There aren't enough Wonderbras in all of Edmonton to lift and support their numbers after Game 1 against Colorado. Twenty-eight percent? Mike Tyson scores higher than that on physics tests.

"The big anomaly was Shawn Horcoff, a 54% career faceoff guy who was 6-16," said head coach Craig MacTavish, who believes Horcoff, coming off of shoulder surgery, will only need a short time to get readjusted. "That will improve our numbers drastically."

They hope so. It's no good starting 72% of your shifts on the chase, or 72% of your powerplay shifts retrieving the puck from your own zone.

"We'll definitely analyze the numbers every game," said MacTavish. "Horc will have to improve, which he will, and we'll get Kyle Brodziak (4-2 against the Avs) some more faceoffs."

The second line of Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano went 1-for-10 on the dot, as the youngsters continue to adjust to big-league faceoff men.

"We were both having trouble last game," said Gagner, who was 0-for-3.

"In the preseason I felt really good, then you get to the regular season and the intensity picks up that much more. You really have to be sharp every time you take a faceoff, because there's some guys who are really good at it."

Gagner says faceoffs in the NHL are an entirely different animal than they were in the OHL.

"In junior I felt really comfortable at it, so it's obviously something that as the level gets higher it gets tougher and tougher. They're stronger, have better timing, better every- thing."

Cole as ice

Newly acquired Erik Cole fit right in in his first game with the Oilers, which is to say he was as lukewarm as most of the other forwards.

He admits he was a step behind, something he attributes to the long layoff between games.

"He, like a lot of our forwards, for whatever reason we didn't have the jump," said MacTavish, who says the problem was so widespread it had to be rust related.

"When it's the whole group, you know it's indicative of the circumstances in which you come into the game."


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