Head woes for Oilers head coach

Oilers goalie Devan Dubnyk shuts the door on Colorado's Milan Hejduk in frist-period action Friday...

Oilers goalie Devan Dubnyk shuts the door on Colorado's Milan Hejduk in frist-period action Friday at Rexall Place. (Codie McLachlan, Edmonton Sun)

Robert Tychkowski, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:01 AM ET

Tom Renney is taking a few sick days.

The Edmonton Oilers head coach is still suffering from concussion-type symptoms after being hit with a puck in the head last week in Toronto.

So, on the advice of the Oilers medical staff, Renney has decided to pull himself out of the lineup.

“We all know it was from the other game in Toronto, we all know what that entails,” said Oilers associate coach Ralph Krueger. “At the moment it’s just the processing and responsibility of processing properly as a head coach during a game and he just feels it’s better for him to take a break right now and on Monday, we’ll take a look at where we’re at.”

Renney missed Friday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche and will not be behind the bench Sunday when the Oilers play host to the Vancouver Canucks.

Renney was struck in the back of the head by and errant puck during the morning skate last Monday in Toronto. He needed 12 stitches to close the gash and was forced to miss the game that night against the Maple Leafs.

Renney returned two nights later to coach against the Detroit Red Wings and was behind the bench for the club’s subsequent two games.

This week, however, Renney was still experiencing symptoms and left his assistants to run practice.

“Obviously at this point it is a serious situation as we all know,” said Krueger. “This is just an area right now where the rest will do him well. He’s been honest with all of us. It’s just about him wanting what’s best for the team at the moment. Together with the medical staff, he feels this is the right decision. He’s definitely not on, or else he would be with us throughout the weekend.”

Day-to-day

The Colorado Avalanche are eagerly awaiting the return of Matt Duchene.

The speedy centre has been out of the lineup since the end of the calendar year with a knee injury.

“He practised (Friday) with the team,” said Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco. “He’ll have a full practice tomorrow and he’s listed as day-to-day right now, so we’ll see how he progresses over the next couple of days.”

Duchene, 21, was injured on Dec. 29 in a game against the Phoenix Coyotes. At the time he had 12 goals and 24 points in 39 games.

The Avalanche have managed to stay in the post-season hunt without him, entering Friday’s game five points back of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

“We hope when he comes back that he can make a good, positive difference with our team and can make a big impact in the lineup,” Sacco said. “He’s been looking pretty good here in the last couple of days and he should give our lineup a big boost.”

On the mend

Corey Potter is anxious to get back in the lineup.

The Oilers defenceman has missed the last two games with a groin pull.

“I skated for the first time (Thursday) and (Friday) it was kind of a light practice to see how it felt,” Potter said. “I don’t think there’s a timeline yet, but I think I’m pretty close.”

Potter originally suffered the injury two weeks ago, but was able to play through it. He aggravated it Saturday against the Ottawa Senators.

“In the second period in Ottawa, it just came back out of nowhere,” Potter said. “I didn’t want it to get any worse in the third, so I just decided to take some time off and get it completely healed up.

“This is the first groin issue I’ve ever had, so it’s kind of new experience for me. I guess from what the doctors are saying, it’s better to let it heal up than to have it linger on and get worse.”

In the hunt

Excitement is building in Colorado as the Avalanche, unlike the Oilers, are playing meaningful games in mid-February.

Heading into Friday’s game, the Avalanche were a short winning streak from getting back into the thick post-season race, five points back of the final playoffs spot in the Western Conference.

“I think it’s exciting, you win a game and then the next day you’re scoreboard-watching and hope you get help,” said Avalanche centre Paul Stastny. “At the same, time you lose a game and then three other teams win and you drop three or four spots.”

The Avalanche have missed the playoffs two of the last three seasons, however, they have never missed the playoffs in consecutive years.

“This is good, it’s better to be in that position rather than to be the team that’s trying to play the spoiler,” Stastny said. “It takes one winning streak to get right back in it and you can leap-frog three or four teams.”


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