SUN Hockey Pool

Kotalik rediscovers scoring touch

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

Ales Kotalik came into town as a relative unknown, seemingly a role player who would have a pedestrian impact on the Edmonton Oilers playoff chances.

However, he has suddenly become one of the team's hottest hands, netting five goals in his last seven games, and is a big key to Edmonton's post-season aspirations.

"I didn't know a lot about him," Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish said yesterday.

"I knew he could shoot the puck.

"I knew that he played the off side on the point on the power play. I knew he was really strong.

"But just the depth of his game - I don't want to say surprised me - but you don't often get players that are that versatile and can also score.

"You don't often obtain players like that, so we're lucky to have him."

Kotalik was acquired from the Buffalo Sabres just prior to last month's trade deadline for a second-round pick.

He had been struggling in Buffalo and took some time to find his game after joining the Oilers.

But after breaking out with a four-point contest against the Colorado Avalanche just under three weeks ago, Kotalik has been one of the most consistent Oilers.

"I'm feeling pretty good; just like any other player, when you get on the score sheet, you feel better about yourself," Kotalik said.

"I'm close to the mark that I wanted to be heading into the season, and hopefully we can still make some things happen out there."

Kotalik has found a spot on the Oilers top line, playing alongside Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky.

It's where the Oilers had originally pencilled him in to play, although he bounced around between units before becoming a fixture there.

"I think it was just a matter of time," he said.

"The first couple of games you come to an organization, you are just trying to adjust to the style of play.

"It's not always easy. But as the games have gone by you start feeling more and more comfortable and it's started to pay off in the last couple of games."


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