Cogliano regaining his confidence

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:38 PM ET

His work ethic has never been questioned.

Andrew Cogliano toils as hard and skates as much as any other player on the Edmonton Oilers roster.

It's getting his hands to catch up to his feet that have been an issue.

"I just think I'm trying to take it one game at a time and trying to piece it all together now," said Cogliano following practice Sunday. "I think I have and now, it's just a matter of scoring. When you don't score on a couple of early chances, you lose confidence and now it's a matter of getting it back. But I feel good, I feel as though I'm making plays and getting open."

Cogliano, 23, scored his first goal of the season Friday in a 7-4 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.

The former first-round pick was able to convert a centring feed from Gilbert Brule to register the eventual winner.

Prior to that, Cogliano had been getting ample opportunities, but was having difficulty putting them away.

"Cogs has skated miles, he's working hard, he covers a lot of ice and everything we're asking him to do, he's doing it," said Oilers head coach Tom Renney. "He's been involved and engaged physically and he's trying. He's trying to contribute with his skill set and it's nice to see him get rewarded with it. I thought that was one of the better goals we've scored this year."

Once touted as a key cog of the Oilers future, Cogliano has struggled to solidify his role with the team after an impressive rookie campaign.

The Toronto native scored 18 goals and added 27 assists for 45 points in his first year with the Oilers. The following season he equaled his goal output, but finished with seven fewer points.

Last season, Cogliano struggled to get past the fact the Oilers attempted to trade him in the off-season and finished with a disappointing 10 goals and 18 assists for 28 points.

He has a goal and an assist in nine games so far this year, but has looked more comfortable recently playing on a line with Dustin Penner and Brule.

"I like playing with Pens and Brule," Cogliano said. "I think we have some good chemistry together. I thought we had a good game (against Chicago) and the offensive chances are coming. Now it's just a matter of scoring.

"I feel like a lot of my game is coming into its own. I feel like I'm doing a good job and I've had some good conversations with Tom and he's happy with my compete-level and my effort level."

Playing on the third line, Cogliano is not required to score every night in order to be considered effective. His role is developing into one of a defensively-responsible forward that can chip in with a critical goal now and then.

"You can never underestimate the value of being able to chip in," Renney said. "Not everyone is going to be 50-goal scorers. But when you're able to contribute, it's pretty important for a player."

Playing with Penner should afford the five-foot-10, 188-lb centre more opportunities to chip in. If anything, Penner's size and his ability to hold off defencemen create more room for both Cogliano and Brule.

"I really enjoy playing with Pens because he's a big body, he holds the puck in the offensive end, and I think we get good cycles playing with him for sure," Cogliano said. "My plan is to give him the puck down low, he can hold off defenders and then we can try to get open for him. He's such a big body, that when he wants to control the puck and take the puck to the net, you can't really stop him. I really enjoy playing with him. I glad that we had a good game and hopefully we can build off that."

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

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