Smid, Staios nearly ready

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:58 AM ET

DENVER -- Ladislav Smid and Steve Staios are close to a return.

The two Edmonton Oilers defencemen were put through their paces Friday at practice and could be in the lineup as early as tonight against the Colorado Avalanche.

Both have been out with head injuries.

"I felt good out there today and conditioning is the only thing we're waiting on now," Staios said Friday.

"I feel comfortable enough with my conditioning now that I could get in and play and be effective. A couple of more days might help that a little bit, but I feel 100% comfortable that I can go in and play.

"(Today) was a good test with that hard skate, especially at this altitude."

Staios has been out of the lineup since Jan. 16, when he took a knock on the head in a 4-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks.

"We put them through a fatigue test and their drop off scores are very much improved over what they had been," said Oilers head coach Pat Quinn.

"So we'll talk about the possibility of one or both coming into the lineup Saturday.

"We're trying to take into consideration that we were in high altitude.

"They were fatigued after a 35-minute practice, so they may not be ready yet."

Smid was injured on Jan. 20 when he was run into the boards by Vancouver Canucks winger Mason Raymond.

Smid was reaching for the puck on the play and considered the hit to be dirty.

"I'm feeling pretty good; I don't have any headaches or neck pain, so I think I'm really close to returning," he said.

"But it's up to the coaching staff when they're going to put us back in the lineup."

Smid's neck was the bigger issue because he's had previous problems with it.

"I did some rehab on it, I've been working out hard and I was able to pass some of the tests on the ice," he said.

"The neck gave me some headache, but it was hard to say if it was a concussion or some type of neck injury."

Ricci honoured

Former Avalanche forward Mike Ricci will be honoured by the Avalanche Alumni Association prior to Saturday's game.

Ricci, a fan favorite during his time in Denver, will become the ninth player honoured by the alumni association this season.

DEREK.VANDIEST@SUNMEDIA.CA


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