A view for the birds

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:16 AM ET

SAN JOSE -- Denis Grebeshkov needed a new perspective.

And it appears a game in the press box has helped the Edmonton Oilers defenceman.

"That game where I was a healthy scratch helped me see the game from upstairs and recognize that it's not as hard as it looks when you're on the ice," Grebeshkov said. "Sometimes you have more time than you think you do, which helped me settle down my game."

Grebeshkov has played two games since being relegated to the press box last week against the Calgary Flames.

The native of Yaroslavl, Russia, had struggled in his six previous outings having come back from a knee injury.

"When you see the game from upstairs, it looks easier, you see the entire ice surface," Grebeshkov said. "But when you're on the ice, it's hard. You don't think you have as much time because the opposition forwards are on you all the time. But at the same time, when you watch the game from upstairs it helps. It shows you that you actually have more time than you think. It's huge as long as you understand that, that's huge."

Prior to his injury, Grebeshkov was one of the Oilers' most dependable defenceman.

However, a knee injury suffered on the last shift of the game against the Buffalo Sabres in November sidelined Grebeshkov for a month.

He came back and struggled, at both ends of the rink.

He didn't pick up a point and was a combined minus-four in the six games.

"The first few games was really hard," Grebeshkov said. "Even if you're riding the bike and keep skating and do everything you can to make yourself ready for that first game. But as soon as you step on the ice and the puck drops, you recognize quickly that the game is so fast and it's not the same as it was when you played the game before.

"I've never been away that long and the first few games were really tough."

While his knee injury is not completely healed, it doesn't bother Grebeshkov out on the ice and can't be blamed for his struggles during the Oilers' recent seven-game losing skid.

He struggled, straddling the line between making the safe play and attempting to create offensively.

"There is a thin line between those situations, between not trying to make a mistake and trying to make a good play," Grebeshkov said. "I know sometimes I push that line and make a mistake.

"I understand I have to play safely, but at the same time, it's my job to create something. So I have to find the line between those two."

IN AND OUT: Jason Strudwick will be drawing into the lineup tonight in place of Lubomir Visnovsky, who sprained his ankle in Thursday's loss to the Flames.

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca


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