THE TEAM TODAY: Nordic Depth

Hartikainen skates, Petrell doesn't & Paajarvi comments on new role and recent offensive success

Monday, 18.02.2013 / 4:25 PM
Ryan Dittrick  -

EDMONTON - Following an emotional, come-from-behind 6-4 win over the Colorado Avalanche and well-earned day off Sunday, the Oilers were back on Rexall Place ice for a brisk, hour-long practice.

Lennart Petrell, who was struck in the head by a redirected Ben Eager slap shot in Saturday's warm up, did not participate. Head Coach Ralph Krueger says that, while Petrell's injury isn't officially listed as a concussion, the 28-year-old does have a bad headache and is dealing with some "slight dizziness" as a result.

"Real slight," said Krueger. "We're going to give him another day of rest here. It's day-to-day for sure, but (he's) still not able to skate. If it was a concussion, we'd put him right on IR for seven days. He's here today doing some exercises, but it's precautionary at the moment.

"That shot careened off the post and hit him right in the temple. Thank God he had the helmet on."

While Petrell's status is unclear, there was some good news on the injury front Monday. Teemu Hartikainen left Saturday's game halfway through after colliding with 6-foot-6, 225-pound Avalanche winger Patrick Bordeleau. Hartikainen was back at practice taking regular line rushes with Eager and Chris VandeVelde.

"It was a bad hit on a bad angle and it pushed my shoulder down," said Hartikainen. "It hurt during the game and a little bit yesterday, but we've been icing it and feels pretty good now.

"Everything looks OK. It feels good. I can shoot, I can pass and I don't feel anything on the ice. I think I'm good to go, but we'll see tomorrow."

Given the uncertainty with Hartikainen heading into Tuesday's game vs. Los Angeles, Krueger's Top 6 looked a little less Finnish, but equally as Nordic at practice. Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle will remain as the top unit, but Magnus Paajarvi was bumped up to the second line alongside Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky.

"I don't know if we're playing together tomorrow night or not, but if I get the chance to play with them, it will be great. I've played well with Gagner before and Hemmer is really good as well. It will be awesome to play with them.

"(I'll) do what I do and don't change anything. I got there for a reason and want to keep that going."

Paajarvi wasn't even supposed to play on Saturday night (healthy scratch), but got the call to suit up just before puck drop after Petrell went down to injury. Paajarvi's goal was his second of the season, and his second game-winner in less than a week.

"It was awesome to do it on Saturday night at Rexall," smiled Paajarvi. "The fans were going crazy. It was a huge goal for me, but even bigger for the team. I still consider myself to be an offensive player, and I'm certainly playing with a lot of confidence right now. Goals give you a huge boost no matter what kind of player you are -- it's very important."

The 21-year-old has been accepting of his new role this year. He's primarily been used as a checker (and penalty-killer) through the first month of the season, but has been given more offensive opportunities of late and had even been taking a regular shift on the power-play.

During the work stoppage, Paajarvi scored four goals and 20 points in 38 games with the Oilers' AHL affiliate, the Oklahoma City Barons.

"One of the advantages of the lockout was spending time with certain players when they were in Oklahoma City," said Krueger. "I had some good talks with Magnus and explained to him, in this organization, what he needed to do to be up here (in Edmonton).

"He's embraced (his new role). You need a couple players that can be moved around. You always do. Within the game we've been losing forwards early in games and those situations call for players that can very quickly get their heads around that. He was working on that in Oklahoma City -- really passionately. It might have hurt his numbers down there a little bit, but (Barons Head Coach) Todd Nelson and the staff was working with him on penalty-killing quite a bit.

"That might not have been his ideal role there, but it was worked on. We're really pleased with him in this multi-purpose role."


Ryan Jones continues to inch closer to a return. The 28-year-old has been taking contact for several days now and was swapping in and out on the fourth line with VandeVelde and Eager.

"We're still a few games away," said Jones. "I've got to be 100 percent before I'm going to be out there. It's a fast-paced game and with his injury, I don't want to be a step behind. Progress has been going good. It's about what we've been expecting all along, and maybe a bit sooner than what we were expecting originally.

"It's been fun to get back out there and do actual line rushes with the boys. It makes you feel like you're part of the team again."

Watching has been painful for Jones, but he's had a good view of the club's progress this year.

"There's so much talent in here," he said. "If you continue to play hockey with the way our system is set up, put pucks on net and go there, it's only a matter of time. Kudos to the boys -- they continued to battle. In practice we've been focusing on getting shots on net. It was obvious that they did on Saturday."

The Oilers recorded 56 shots on Avalanche netminder Semyon Varlamov, setting a new franchise record for shots on goal in a single game. The previous record was set on Mar. 21, 1986 vs. Minnesota.

"Fifty-five, right?" laughed Jones. "When I saw that, I was actually surprised. When you think about it, you normally get about 30 in a good game, but in those years that the boys dominated in the 80's, I figured that there would have been a 90-shot game, but it was cool.

"Any time a team can get put in the books, it's fun. It means you're doing something right."

-- Ryan Dittrick, | Follow me on Twitter @ryandittrick

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