SUN Hockey Pool

Shouldering the pain

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- While there's no definite timeline, the prognosis is not good for Edmonton Oilers defenceman Lubomir Visnovsky.

In Tuesday's 3-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, Visnovsky dislocated his right shoulder and had to leave the game in the third period.

"The initial word that we got is that it was going to be lengthy, but we're not sure if it's going to be season-ending or not," Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish said yesterday.

"It was a pretty innocuous little play; he was just battling hard and has never had any problems with his shoulder before. It came out and wouldn't pop back in.

"He was obviously in a lot of pain skating off the ice and they eventually got it back in the socket."

Visnovsky was injured trying to check Blackhawks forward Dave Bolland. The shoulder popped out as he brought his arm up in an attempt to check Bolland along the boards.

It's a big loss for the Oilers.

"He gives us a lot of mobility on the back end," said fellow defenceman Tom Gilbert.

"He can skate the puck better than anybody in the league coming out of the zone."

Acquired in a trade from the Los Angeles Kings this summer for centre Jarret Stoll, Visnovsky had eight goals and 23 assists for the Oilers this season.

He was averaging over 23 minutes of ice time per game, was on the first power-play unit and killed penalties.

"That's a big loss for us, he's got a lot of weapons," Gilbert said.

"He's got a shot, he's good on the power play and he moves the puck so well."

Jason Strudwick is expected to take Visnovsky's place in the Edmonton lineup.

The Oilers also have the option of calling up a defenceman from their AHL affiliate in Springfield -- most likely Theo Peckham.

"I think we're in a little bit of a difficult situation with back-to-back games going into the weekend," MacTavish said.

"We're OK with numbers going into St. Louis and we'll assess after that.

"The way we're going right now, it's a game-to-game assessment of a lot of guys, whether they're in or out of the lineup.

"We'll make changes accordingly."


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