Uncharted waters for Brodziak

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:19 AM ET

DETROIT -- Kyle Brodziak can't remember the last time he played over 19 minutes in an NHL game.

That's probably because it had never happened prior to Thursday.

But when Shawn Horcoff went down with what's being called a lower body injury against the St. Louis Blues, Brodziak stepped in to fill his spot on the Edmonton Oilers top line between Dustin Penner and Ales Hemsky.

That's where he'll be again today as the Oilers take on the Detroit Red Wings (1 p.m.) at the Joe Louis Arena.

"It's a big opportunity for me," Brodziak said. "Playing with guys like that, playing minutes like that, it's going to be an adjustment I have to make. But it's an opportunity to show what I can do and I'm looking forward to it."

For most of the season, Brodziak has centred the Oilers fourth line. It's where he started against the Blues. Yet, when Horcoff was injured midway through the second, instead of breaking up the second and third units, Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish decided to promote the fourth-line centre.

Horcoff was re-assessed yesterday and it's unlikely he'll be able to play today.

"There is nothing definitive on his progress," said MacTavish. "Both injuries (Tom Gilbert's back) are following their course. They're marginally better (yesterday), but we won't know about their availability until (today). They're both probably unlikely. There's always a possibility, but it's unlikely for both those guys."

Brodziak finished with an assist and a plus-one rating filling in for Horcoff against the Blues.

"I thought he played really well (Thursday) night," MacTavish said. "He was physically involved. It looked like he benefited from the added ice time. He played well and he's going to continue that. We'll start with him in that position and see how the game evolves."

Heading into today, Brodziak has seven goals and six assists this season.

Yet the majority of his contributions have come in defensive roles and the face-off circle.

Horcoff is the Oilers top face-off man, taking nearly all the crucial defensive-zone draws. That responsibility now falls on Brodziak as well.

"I've been taking a lot of face-offs in the last little while," he said.

"I've been starting to get comfortable with that role and am starting to feel more confident in my abilities to take draws.

"If I have to take a lot of the defensive draws and as long as I'm doing a good job of it, I'm all for it. It's a big responsibility and I'm glad I'm getting an opportunity to try and do it."


Videos

Photos