Eberle back in action Vs. Blues
ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency
|Oilers Jordan Eberle is back in action after a month-long layoff. (EDMONTON SUN FILE)
ST. LOUIS - Jordan Eberle is in, but one of Edmonton’s resident ironmen is doubtful.
Dustin Penner, who’s played 82 games three of the last four years (78 the other) and all 50 this season, missed the morning skate and might miss tonight’s game against St. Louis with the flu.
St. Louis is a big, physical team, so going without the 6-foot-4, 250-pound winger would leave the smallish Oilers that much smaller up front.
“Pens is our biggest, strongest forward, and possibly player, for that matter,” said head coach Tom Renney. “With the need for that in our lineup, we’re going to miss him if he can’t go. We’ll see how he’s making out because I’m sure it was one of those nights he’d rather forget because he didn’t get a lot of sleep.”
St. Louis is also tied for the league lead in fighting majors, which is why Steve MacIntyre is drawing in.
“He gives us the sense that we can take care of ourselves,” said Renney. “It’s important for him to be in the lineup.”
As for Eberle, who’s been out since Jan 1 with an ankle injury, the green light looks very bright.
“I’m excited, I haven’t played in a month,” said Eberle, who expects his timing might be a little off. “It’s going to be fast out there; there’s a difference between practice shape and game shape. I just want to keep it simple. It’ll be interesting to get out there and see what it’s like.”
Renney isn’t expecting Eberle to be in mid-season form right out of the gate, just to play smart, sound hockey.
“We’ll keep the expectations reasonable,” said the coach. “The suggestion to him was let the game come to him. Don’t stand around and be a spectator but don’t chase it down, either. It’s game pace and it’s February, so he’s not going to be able to step on the ice and keep right up to it right away, so just be the intelligent player that he is and he’ll be fine.”
This game is anyone’s to win - the 14th place Blues are 2-8-2 in their last 12 while the 15th place Oilers are 3-15-3 in their last 21.
Devan Dubnyk gets the start for Edmonton against former Oiler Ty Conklin.