Oilers' Nilsson a healthy scratch Monday Staff

12/22/2008 6:41:04 PM

Edmonton Oilers forward Robert Nilsson is the latest player to land in head coach Craig MacTavish's doghouse. 

Nilsson was nailed to the bench during the Oilers loss to Anaheim on Friday because MacTavish said the skilled forward simply was not competing hard enough. MacTavish took it a step further on Monday, making Nilsson a healthy scratch for the Oilers game against the Phoenix Coyotes.
"I was expecting a lot more out of him," MacTavish candidly told the Edmonton Sun. "He had a great opportunity playing with our best forward (Ales Hemsky) and he just didn't show enough urgency in his game for me. That's plagued him through his career so far, the complacency and the laissez-faire attitude in which he conducts himself and plays the game.
"We need some fire and he's got a lot more skill than what we're seeing. He needs a different perspective. He's taken the game for granted. We need more out of him."

Nilsson has struggled on offence, with only 10 points in 27 games this season, but MacTavish said he's been a poor checker, too. When talking to Nilsson didn't generate the desired results, MacTavish opted to put the 23-year old on the bench. The next stop could be the press box.

"We've coddled him and talked to him, met with him about intensity, drive, fitness and work ethic in comparisons with other players who have similar attributes, who are getting a hell of a lot more out of their game," MacTavish told the Sun. 
Nilsson is in good company. Dustin Penner earned a benching earlier in the season, and has responded with more offence. How Nilsson responds remains to be seen.

"It's never fun to be a healthy scratch," Nilsson said Monday. "I know what I need to do to get back in there and  produce and help this team win games."

"I want to play and the big guy decides who's playing and I need to prove to him, myself and my teammates that I can really play at this level."