Oilers decimated by flu bug

Oilers forward Mike Comrie didn't take part in the morning skate Thursday. (Sun Media/Jordan...

Oilers forward Mike Comrie didn't take part in the morning skate Thursday. (Sun Media/Jordan Verlage)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 3:29 PM ET

The Edmonton Oilers will be battling the flu bug as well as the Columbus Blue Jackets today as they struggle to get enough healthy bodies to the start line.

Gilbert Brule, who's been sick for several days, wasn't at the rink this morning and Mike Comrie, scheduled to play on a line with Shawn Horcoff and Patrick O'Sullivan tonight, came down with a fever and didn't take part in the morning skate, either.

"Brule isn't ready yet,"said head coach Pat Quinn. "We sent Comrie home this morning as a precautionary measure but we expect him to play."

Steve MacIntyre will draw in for Brule, but if Comrie can't go Edmonton will have to play a man short. With Fernando Pisani (back), Marc Pouliot (pubitis), Sheldon Souray (concussion), Steve Staios (concussion) and Ryan Stone (knee) already down, they're simply out of bodies.

"We expected Brule to be fine today," said Quinn. "And because our farm team is so far away we can't get anybody here for tonight. We're fine with numbers anyway (if Comrie plays) unless something happens this afternoon.

"But we will be calling someone up tomorrow."

Smid is back after missing the last couple of days of practice with the flu, which solves that problem, at least.

"It spreads pretty fast and with H1N1 everyone is worried and scared, but it's just a typical flu and we're unfortunate that it's spread around our locker room room," he said. "It was kind of funny about a week ago but it's not funny anymore, you have to be careful."

This opens the door for heavyweight Steve MacIntyre, who, saving a last-minute recovery from Brule, will be making his 2009-10 debut.

"It's unfortunate a few guys are a little under the weather, but if there's any way I can help," he said, adding there are bound to be a few butterflies.

"With anything, if you've been out for a little while, there are nerves. You have to get that out the first couple of shifts. I've been at this game a long time and my job hasn't changed. I get pucks in, get them out, get them deep and forecheck as hard as I can. My game is pretty simple."

ROBERT.TYCHKOWSKI@SUNMEDIA.CA


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