Oilers look to bounce back

Tuesday, 17.10.2006 / 1:06 PM / Edmonton Oilers
Edmonton Oilers

The bad news: the Oilers dropped a 2-1 decision to the Vancouver Canucks at GM Place on Monday night.

The good news: they can redeem themselves in less than 24 hours against that same Vancouver team.

Same goes for Shawn Horcoff, who saw his ice time limited in the third period last night as head coach Craig MacTavish tried to find the right combination in order to break Vancouvers one-goal lead.

"I just didnt have my best game," Horcoff said this morning after taking part in an optional pre-game skate. "I need to get better and itll be nice to come back tonight and have that second chance."

Horcoff understood MacTavishs motivation for removing him from the top line for the final few minutes.

"Its not a given right to go out and play the important minutes at the end of the game," he said. "Its more a motivating factor and a wake up call that I need to be better in those situations and I will be.

"It was just a matter of Mac going with the guys who were playing well for the last five minutes."

Who he did go with was Patrick Thoresen, placing him in between Ryan Smyth and Joffrey Lupul. Petr Sykora, Raffi Torres and Ales Hemsky also saw some action in the final minutes.

"He went down to two lines and pretty much rotated those guys for the last five minutes," Horcoff said.

Thoresen was excited to have the opportunity to play an important role late in the game.

"We didnt play a good game, so maybe the coach wanted to try something new," stated Thoresen.

"If Im still working hard, hell put me in a little bit here and there during the game. Ive just got to prove myself to the team and to the coaches that Ill work for my icetime."

Thoresen even took a crucial draw with about two minutes left as the Oilers pressed for the equalizer. It was a new situation for the Norwegian in his NHL career but he had played in similar circumstances with his club team in Sweden.

"During the lockout year, I played against a lot of NHL guys so I knew I was capable to play against them. I did play good against them when they were playing in Europe," he said.

MacTavish wasnt tipping his hand, but the possibility exists that Jussi Markkanen will get his first start of the season tonight.

"We have a light schedule in the start so its taken awhile to get a start but Im feeling good and really excited about it," Markkanen said about the possibility of him starting.

It would be Markkanens first start that counts since he carried the Oilers to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final last spring after Roloson went down due to injury.

"The experience helped," he said. "I want to try and build on that, and try to remember the feeling I had when I played and take that into my first start."

As Oilers fans saw last night, the Canucks are a different team from last years star-studded lineup that included Todd Bertuzzi, Ed Jovanovski and Anson Carter among others. Boasting a top line of the Sedins and Markus Naslund, Vancouver relies on their number one unit to generate offence.

"They have to," said Horcoff. "Theyre not as deep as they used to be. Theyve got the one dominant scoring line. Not to take anything away from the other lines but before they used to spread it out a little more. "

Horcoff also pointed out that the addition of Luongo has given the Canucks a boost defensively, and also a blue-collar identity. Even without the talent up front, they may be just as difficult to beat this year.

"The other lines are working hard and I think thats what youre going to see. Youve got a great goaltender back there and you have a hard working team thats going to rely on a lot of saves from him."
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