Brodziak latest whipping boy

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:58 AM ET

He's scratched, clawed and battled his way to get into the NHL, so adversity is nothing new to Kyle Brodziak.

It's a good thing, because the Edmonton Oilers centre is getting his fill of it at the moment.

Brodziak is not the only reason the Oilers are underachieving this season, currently standing just two points better then the rest of the bottom-feeders in the league.

But he was singled out on Wednesday and relegated to the press box in the Oilers' 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings.

"For Kyle, he just got into a funk where he was OK with not being a factor in the game," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "When you're losing, you have to find a way at some point to be a factor in the game, whether it's physically, excelling at faceoffs or blocking shots - all the things that Kyle does when he's playing well."

SECOND TIME SITTING

Wednesday was the second time this season Brodziak has been a healthy scratch.

He sat out two weeks ago as the Oilers beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 7-2 in a game they had no business winning by that margin.

So far this season the 24-year-old St. Paul, Alta., product, has two goals and an assist in three games. He finished with 14 goals and 17 assists in 80 games last year.

"I know exactly why I've been sat out," Brodziak said.

"I don't think it's too hard to figure out, I have to do a better job with what my role is on the team, and I don't think I've done a good job of doing what I'm capable of so far.

"It doesn't have anything to do with being a second-year player, I think that's just an excuse. I don't think I've done a good enough job of playing hard enough and making it difficult for other teams. I have to find a way to be a factor every night, positively. Whether that's getting a big hit, or making it difficult on opposing defencemen."

Towards the end of last season, Brodziak along with Zack Stortini and Curtis Glencross combined to become one of the Oilers' most consistent units.

In their quest to land a big-name, big-money free agent - spurred on by the new owner's desire to make a splash following his takeover - the Oilers lost Glencross to the Calgary Flames.

He has 13 points in 22 games with the Flames this season, which would pit him second in scoring among forwards in Edmonton.

Brodziak and Stortini - who doesn't have a point in the 11 games he's dressed - now can't get into the lineup.

"My confidence is not that bad," Brodziak said. "I still feel pretty confident when I get the puck, but there are some areas where I'm not the most confident in, and that's what I have to work on. But I know I'm capable of doing those things, and if I'm going to keep working at it, I know things are going to turn for me."

It's not all about scoring for Brodziak. The Oilers are paying other players a lot more money to provide offence for the team - who are struggling in their own right.

PHYSICAL FORCE

The fourth-line centre is expected to be an effective penalty killer, a physical force and strong in the face-off circle. Points were expected to come as a result of that.

"I don't know how you justify my role being easier," Brodziak said. "It's tough to score goals in this league, but it's also tough to be a physical factor every single night when you don't get the minutes that some of the other guys do.

"I know that's part of my role and I have to find a way to do it. There are guys all around the league that are able to do it and I have to find ways to do it. I just have to find that consistently."

Selected by the Oilers in the seventh round (214 overall) in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, Brodziak was a long shot to even be in the league. There were eight other players selected by the Oilers in that particular draft. Six are not in the NHL.

In his final year of junior with the Moose Jaw Warriors, Brodziak put up 93 points in 70 games.

He then spent three seasons developing in the Oilers minor-league system before earning a full-time roster spot last season.

It's expected he'll be back in the lineup when the Oilers head off on a two-game road trip starting tomorrow in St. Louis.

Tim Sesito, who the Oilers called up to take his place, was sent back down to Springfield yesterday.

"Sometimes you need a different view of things to jig your game and hopefully that works for him," MacTavish said. "He's got lots of game, but so far we haven't seen it much this year."


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