SUN Hockey Pool

Spot on D big step forward for Czech

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:00 AM ET

LOS ANGELES -- There must have been a time when Ladislav Smid wondered exactly how hard Raffi Torres had hit him.

Smid was playing defence for the Edmonton Oilers when he took a forearm shiver to the back of the head from his former teammate more than a month ago in Columbus.

Following a stint on injured reserve with concussion issues, Smid resurfaced as a forward.

"It was a good experience," he said.

"The first game I was so excited that I felt it was easy to play there. The second game was way harder for me.

"In our zone, it's tough. I knew I had to block shots, go to the boards and go to the point. There were a few times I ended up as the centreman down low. I had to support the defencemen and I found that to be kind of hard. It's not easy, and I would say it's more skating. The first game I was taking pretty short shifts, 30 seconds then out."

Last night, Smid was back in more familiar territory, taking a spot on the Oilers blueline against the Los Angeles Kings.

It's a position the native of Frydlant, Czech Republic had not played since taking the shot from Torres Nov. 5.

"Ladi has looked good in practice for the last little while, and we've been looking to get him back in the mix on defence," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish.

"It was good to get him into a couple of games up front. He did a great job. He's had a great attitude. Now, it's just a case of getting him back on defence and seeing what he's got. He looked good there early in the season."

With the acquisition of Lubomir Visnovsky, the return of Sheldon Souray and the emergence of Tom Gilbert and Denis Grebeshkov, Smid has found it difficult to earn an everyday spot in the lineup this season.


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