Missing time to an injury is supposed to make player worse, not better, but something about being sidelined for four games with a gimpy shoulder seems to have agreed with Shawn Horcoff.
After getting his name on the scoresheet just once in 10 games prior to the “setback,” Horcoff came off the sidelines looking like a new man.
Or, at least producing like one.
He has a five-game point scoring streak on the go (three goals and three assists) despite not being strong enough in the shoulder yet to take more than a few faceoffs a night.
“I feel like I’m skating well right now and I’m just trying to get to the front of the net where the pucks are,” he said, adding the biggest difference from then to now is simply puck luck. “Usually when that happens and things are going well, the puck will just follow you around.
“Before I got hurt I felt like I was playing well. The first 10 games of the season were tough, but after that I was playing well. We looked at lots of video and I was creating lots and involved in lots of chances, but pucks weren’t going in for me or the guys I passed to. You have to be patient.”
A week on the injured list left him no other choice. And now, despite being moved off the top line, he’s got some of his mojo back.
“You get a lucky bounce here or there when you come back and things start to go your way,” he said, adding it feels good to be rounding back into statistical form. “You always want to contribute. You just have to try and not get frustrated, more than anything. It’s a long season, you have to stay with it.”
The shoulder, which has been bothering him all season, is feeling better, though.
“Taking some time off got it a little better, stronger.”
The Oilers need Horcoff going if they intend on climbing out of the Western Conference’s low-rent district and into the top eight,
“He has an expectation for points,” said head coach Pat Quinn, who moved Horcoff off the first line last game, and saw him chip in a goal and an assist with linemates Gilbert Brule and JF Jacques.
“We split it up for only one reason, to try and get more production from other people (Sam Gagner). We were becoming a one-line team in the sense that we were getting nothing from the other group. And Horc had a pretty strong game for us.
“He’s got to be one of our better players; that’s what good teams have, their good players are their best players almost every night.”