Oilers' three amigos ride again
DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency
|Oilers forward Shawn Horcoff skates against the Coyotes during their game at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alta., Tuesday. (PERRY NELSON/QMI Agency)
EDMONTON - On Tuesday, all the excitement was about the Edmonton Oilers young line of Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle and how they ate up the Phoenix Coyotes.
There was a time when Ales Hemsky, Shawn Horcoff and Ryan Smyth created a similar buzz, helping the club get to within one win of the Stanley Cup.
And while the trio may have been overshadowed by their younger counterparts against the Coyotes, there is belief they can rediscover some of the magic that made them an effective unit in that playoff march all those years ago.
“They looked like a veteran line in lots of ways, just how they managed the puck and they attacked the game,” said Oilers head coach Tom Renney. “They maybe tried to do somethings that weren’t incumbent with what that trio can look like. But I liked the feel of it, I like the look of it. It’s a combination of people that you can go with any time and be comfortable with.”
The unit could be excused for not looking like world beaters in their first game together at training camp. Prior to Tuesday, it had been over four years since they last skated together and Ales Hemsky was playing his first game in over seven months.
“I know how Ales was feeling, I’ve been off for a while in the past before and when you come back you’re always a little rusty,” said Horcoff. “I think he felt good, I think the biggest thing for him is going to be that comfort level that he’s healthy again.
“He’s going to need a game or two to get back to where he was, but I thought (Tuesday) night, he played well.”
Horcoff himself is trying to work his way back into game form, having missed the last 12 games of the previous season with a broken ankle.
The trio is expected to be reunited in at least one of the Oilers final two exhibition games.
“It’s been a while, obviously, we’ve played lots of games together before,” said Horcoff. “It’ll take two or three games, but we’ll see what the future holds for us.
“We’ve had chemistry before and you don’t lose something like that. It’s been a while, so it’s definitely going to take some games, but we do feel comfortable with each other. I thought we did have some chances (Tuesday) we just couldn’t capitalize.”