Horcoff Missing in Action. Now What?

Shawn Horcoff is questionable for tonights game. While Lubomir Visnovsky and Mike Comrie seem ready to return, Horcoff is the latest victim of the flu and did not skate with the Oilers during practice on Sunday in Long Island.

It's no secret that Shawn Horcoff has gotten off to a slow start. He's had one offensive outbreak in a 6-5 win over Detroit scoring three points as part of a ten point first line effort along side Hemsky and Penner. But, outside of that flurry, Horcoff has two points in twelve games.

Fans get quick to jump on Horcoff thanks to his high price tag and otherwise slower start. As they do, they still often can't deny the variables he brings with him. Variables, that have made him a valueable part of every game whether he scores or not. Therefore, should Horcoff not be in the lineup on Monday, the Oilers have problems and questions that require answers.

Faceoffs are not a friend of the Oilers. While some of the players have shown slight improvements, overall Edmonton has issues winning draws. This is a problem not new to the team.

In total, Horcoff has taken 299 draws in this early 2009/2010 season, second best in the NHL to only Sidney Crosby. Horcoff's closest faceoff taking teammate Sam Gagner, has taken 128. That's a big difference.

Without Horcoff, the Oilers have only Dustin Penner, Mike Comrie and Gilbert Brule at over 50%. Comrie might not even play and Penner isn't a centre, having taken only 31 draws this season.

Needless to say, what Pat Quinn decides to do should Horcoff not be available should be interesting. It's likely that the Hemsky, Penner and Gagner line will be reunited, hoping Sam Gagner has the type of game where he wins more draws than he loses.

The second line (should Comrie play), might see him at center with O'Sullivan and Jacques. Of those three, only Comrie has the ability to win a draw, but his attendance is still in question. Even if he does play, how effective will he be knowing his lack of strength is a factor thanks to his flu recovery?

The third line puts Brule with Nilsson and Pisani and the fourth with Moreau, Stortini and Cogliano.

Of course all this could change after Monday morning's skate, where the Oilers will see who's healthy and who isn't.

In no uncertain terms, the Oilers better hope Horcoff is healthy. Edmonton's struggled mightily to keep the puck out of their own zone. When they do, it often comes after Horcoff wins a key draw in the defensive zone. Without Horcoff around to do so, the Oilers could be up a creek without a paddle.


Post a Comment

More To Read