SUN Hockey Pool

Brule losing old Jackets feeling

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:57 PM ET

For Gilbert Brule the novelty is starting to wear off.

The Edmonton Oilers centre still gets up for games against his former club, but with so many changes to the Columbus Blue Jackets roster over the past few years, it's not quite the same.

"I always look back and know they are part of my history and got me into the NHL," Brule said. "But their whole team's changed, including their coaching staff. There are only a couple of guys still there from when I was there.

"It's changed so much, that it's just another game to me now honestly."

Having been selected by the Blue Jackets sixth overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Brule, 24, spent parts of three seasons in Columbus.

He was eventually traded to the Oilers prior to the 2008-2009 season for Raffi Torres.

This year, Brule has seven goals and a pair of assists in 36 games for the Oilers, having recently returned from a long absence.

He missed 23 games with an ankle injury and then the flu.

Tuesday was Brule's second game back, getting nearly 19 minutes of ice time in a 2-1 shootout win over the Nashville Predators.

"I think I had a pretty good first game back," Brule said. "Then (Tuesday) I was on the power play, which was awesome to get out there with Horc (Shawn Horcoff) and Hemmer (Ales Hemsky).

"We had a couple of good chances. I also tried to stay physical, I think I had five or six good hits."

Heading down the stretch this season, Brule is trying to regain the form that saw him net a career-high, 17 goals and 20 assists.

Prior to getting hurt, Brule was on a two-game scoring streak. He also scored a goal in his first game back on Sunday.

"I feel good, in that first game, I thought it was going to be overwhelming just conditioning wise, but I felt great," Brule said. "I thought Tom (Renney) was great, easing me in the first period to play.

"Tuesday I felt great playing almost 19 minutes. I'm a little tired today, obviously, but otherwise I feel great."

Note: Ales Hemsky, who left Tuesday's game with a sore shoulder, underwent an MRI on Wednesday to determine the extent of the damage. Initial word from the team was that it was not too serious. More will be known at the morning skate Thursday.

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/DerekVanDiest


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