Oilers hope to avoid bad streak
ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency
|Edmonton Oilers' Ales Hemsky. (AMBER BRACKEN/QMI Agency)
MONTREAL - The Edmonton Oilers are hoping Ales Hemsky’s presence up front and Cam Barker’s addition to the back end will be enough to stop their losing streak at one game.
Both players, who’d been out with shoulder injuries, are back in the lineup tonight when the Oilers visit the Montreal Canadiens.
Hemsky played all of four periods before pulling himself out of the second game of the season with weakness and pain in his shoulder. After four weeks of rest and rehab, he’s hoping he’s good for the rest of the season.
He’ll return to his place on the line with Shawn Horcoff and Ryan Smyth, while Ryan Jones drops to the third line, bumping Magnus Paajarvi (one point in 13 games) to the press box.
“My shoulder is feeling great so I’m pretty excited,” said Hemsky. “It’s been a while, 11 games.”
Unfortunately, coming back from injury is something Hemsky is getting used to, so he’s comfortable jumping back into the mix.
“I’ve been down this path more times than anybody else on the team, so I’m not nervous,” he said, adding he’s not worried about whether his shoulder will start bothering him again. “You can’t think about it, if you think about it you can’t play the game. You focus on the game and whatever happens, happens.”
The Oilers, coming off a road loss in Phoenix and one of the lowest scoring teams in the NHL, are glad to have him back.
“He brings experience and offensive output, obviously, good leadership and he’s passionate about playing,” said head coach Tom Renney, who’s hoping Hemsky’s addition takes some of Montreal’s defensive focus off the kid line.
“Ales has that reputation as an offensive player, so it should free others up to do more offensively.”
Historically, Hemsky’s been pretty quick to find his form when returning from injury. It’s like rust doesn’t stick to him.
“He takes care of himself and he’s a stronger player now than he was,” said Renney. “And he’s a great competitor. Deep down inside it starts with your head and Ales is a great competitor. He wants badly to be the difference in games.”
Barker is back after missing three games with a sore shoulder. His return means Colten Teubert sits this one out.
Both teams are 4-1 in their last five games and coming off a loss.