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AT THE MORNING SKATE:
The Oilers held an optional skate at Nationwide Arena Monday morning, with about 15 players taking to the ice.
In keeping with his "win and you're in" goaltending plan, Head Coach Pat Quinn confirmed that Devan Dubnyk will get the start vs. the Blue Jackets. Dubnyk played the final 20 minutes of Saturday's game in Toronto, stopping 18 of 19 shots.
Among the skaters attempting to keep the puck away from Dubnyk and in the opposite net will be Gilbert Brule. The first-round draft pick returns to Columbus to face his former club tonight.
After a disappointing two seasons with the Jackets, Brule was traded to Edmonton in 2008 and has since embraced a steady role with the club.
Quinn said that Brule's continued improvements show that patience is an important virtue to have when developing NHL players.
"There's some big decisions to be made by the organizations on players, and some of them give up on their guys," the coach explained. "It's really important for your professional scouts to be following all of the drafts for two or three years after they're picked in case there's someone that falls through the cracks or they just want to move on, like with Gilbert.
"It is a fairly regular happenstance and it could be a way for teams to find some jewels."
Although Brule said he enjoys coming back to Columbus, he admitted that the move to Edmonton was a good one for him.
"I think a change of scenery for guys can be a huge difference. And obviously for me just to get out of Columbus here and go to Edmonton was amazing and I'm getting the opportunity to play this year which obviously has been a big change."
According to Quinn, Brule's biggest challenge this season has been staying healthy.
"I think what set him back a couple of times was those illnesses and he really both physically and mentally took a step backwards," Quinn said. "We know he's competitive, he can skate, he really has a good shot, and we'd like to see that 82-game schedule being played rather than the spottiness of what happened this year, and we might have a real good player on our hands."
Brule attributed his recent success to confidence and consistency.
"I think I'm starting to play more consistently and that's obviously what the coaches are looking for and that's what I want to implement in my game," he said.
OILERS (21-40-7) at BLUE JACKETS (27-31-11)
Last 10: Edmonton 3-6-1; Columbus 4-4-2
Season series: Fourth and final meeting of the regular season. Columbus has taken two of the first three matchups, including the only one at Nationwide Arena, 3-2 on a Jakub Voracek goal in the fourth round of the shootout. Kristian Huselius of the Blue Jackets leads all scorers with three goals.
Big story: At this point it seems a pretty safe bet that the Oilers will finish last and have the best shot at winning the lottery for the No. 1 pick in the 2010 Entry Draft. They come into Monday nine points behind the Maple Leafs, the cellar dwellers in the Eastern Conference.
Oilers: Edmonton has given up 15 goals in losing three straight. Toronto scored three times in a span of 2:26 early in the second period Saturday for a 5-1 lead, and the Leafs went on to deal the Oilers a 6-4 defeat.
It wasn't much of a homecoming for coach Pat Quinn, who spent plenty of time behind the bench at the Air Canada Centre during a stint with the Leafs from 1998-2006 that included six playoff appearances and two trips to the conference finals. He also played two seasons for the team from 1968-70.
"I didn't see what was up there," Quinn said of a video tribute Toronto played during a television timeout. "But I could hear the music. This was a terrific place for me both back when I was a player and for the years I was coaching here.
"I have terrific memories and that was a nice touch and I'm quite pleased. As disappointed as I was with how our team went, that part added a little satisfaction to it."
Blue Jackets: A modest two-game win streak for Columbus ended in emphatic fashion Saturday as a desperate St. Louis squad came to town and ripped the Blue Jackets, 5-1, behind a goal and two assists from Andy McDonald. Voracek was the only one to get a puck past Blues goalie Steve Mason, averting the shutout with 5:41 remaining.
"We have to keep stepping up as individuals," forward R.J. Umberger told the Columbus Dispatch. "We chased all game and they had the puck, and we could not get it at all. It wasn't like we were passing up opportunities to shoot, we just didn't have the puck at all.
"It's really tough to play like that."
Who's hot: Edmonton's leading scorer, Dustin Penner, has a goal and three assists in the last two games. Andrew Cogliano has goals in consecutive games. Shawn Horcoff has a goal and two assists during a three-game points streak.
Voracek has two goals and two assists in his last three games, giving the Columbus rookie 40 points this season.
Injury report: Add forwards Patrick O'Sullivan (hand) and Fernando Pisani (groin) to the Oilers' laundry list of injuries. Goalie Nikolai Khabibulin (back), defensemen Sheldon Souray (hand) and Ladislav Smid (neck) and forwards Ales Hemsky (shoulder), Ryan Stone (knee), Jean-Francois Jacques (back) and Ryan Jones (torn MCL) are all on injured reserve and likely out for the season.
Huselius (upper body) and captain Rick Nash (lower body) have been battling injuries for the Blue Jackets. Forward Derek MacKenzie (sprained MCL) and defenseman Rostislav Klesla (groin) are on injured reserve.
Stat pack: Edmonton has given up an average of 35 shots over its last six games. … Playing without Nash and Huselius, who have combined for 17 power-play goals this season, Columbus was 0-for-6 with the man advantage against St. Louis.
Puck drop: Jeff Deslauriers could become the third Oilers goalie to start against the Blue Jackets this season. Khabibulin split a pair of decisions before rookie Devan Dubnyk got the call in the most recent matchup.
-- Brian Hunter, NHL.com