The Nikolai Khabibulin watch continues, mostly because the injured Oilers goalie is nowhere to be seen.
He isnít even practising yet, and hasnít been on the ice since the pre-game skate against Chicago 10 days ago, hours before coming down with a sore back that doesnít seem to be getting any better.
He missed 12 games with the same ailment last March, so five on the shelf might just be the start.
ďHeís not cleared for anything yet, heís still suffering,Ē said head coach Pat Quinn. ďHeís a top player, when you lose your top players itís not expected and you miss them. But you have to somehow suck it up and keep going. We miss him and hope that heís back soon.Ē
Ryan Stone, however, is ready to come back. Heís been given medical clearance and itís just a question now of pain management.
ďWe expect after three days of practice that we might see him in Detroit,Ē said Quinn. ďSame with Bobby (Nilsson).Ē
The Oilers were 5-2-1 when Stone went down, theyíve gone 5-11-3 since.
ďIíve been banging my head off the wall,Ē he said. ďItís been a long six weeks. Whenever it feels good and the coaches say letís go, Iíll be good to go. I could play (right now). I wouldnít be 100 per cent, but I donít know if itíll be 100 per cent all year, thatís what the surgeon said.
"I have to fight through the pain and go out and play.Ē
Shawn Horcoff didnít practice Monday (shoulder) but Quinn expects him to be ready by Detroit.