SUN Hockey Pool

Gilbert dumps slump

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:16 AM ET

PHILADELPHIA -- With Sheldon Souray back in form and Lubomir Visnovsky added to the power play blueline, Tom Gilbert knew his role would be scaled back a little this season.

But Edmonton's 2007-08 defenceman of the year wasn't expecting the kind of anemic start he's trying to climb his way out of now.

After leading all Oilers blueliners with 33 points last season, Gilbert had just one assist and was minus six in his first 10 games this season - before busting out for three assists in Sunday's 5-4 win over Philadelphia.

"My assists were just basic passes and guys making plays that got me on the scoresheet," said Gilbert. "It just goes to show that making simple plays can go so far. If you keep doing that, good things will happen."

Gilbert understands the premium power play time will go to Souray and Visnovsky, so he has to make the most of his second unit and even strength minutes, and shore up his penalty killing work.

"Those guys have been in the league for so long and you can't take away what they have," he said. "Shelly can beat any goalie in the league from the blueline. Lubo is great with the puck and he's got a great shot. As long as they're out there scoring goals it doesn't matter.

"I'm on the second unit, which is fine, it's where I spent a lot of last year, too. I'm still getting chances to produce points."

Craig MacTavish also attributes the slow start to slow decision making.

"It all stemmed from both he and Grebeshkov were sloppy with the first movement of the puck and I think that negatively affected him," said the coach, who's seen enough of Gilbert that he isn't worried about his ability to bounce back.

"You just go through stretches as a player where those things hit the crossbar and go out. When you're at the top of your game they're in the back of the net. He's still got plenty of confidence."


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