MORNING SKATE REPORT: Oilers at Calgary

Oilers talk trade deadline, preparation for tonight's key contest in Calgary

Wednesday, 03.04.2013 / 3:21 PM
Marc Ciampa  - edmontonoilers.com

CALGARY - On trade deadline day, the Oilers made one acquisition -- Jerred Smithson from the Florida Panthers -- but on the ice at the Saddledome in Calgary, the focus was on tonight's game and an opportunity to move into sole possession of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

"This is a situation where we finally have a chance to be in a playoff spot. It's exciting. Every game means something and all the guys feel like they're part of something," said Jordan Eberle.

Oilers head coach Ralph Krueger stated that the team can't take the Flames lightly and need to be better than they were at Rexall Place in a 4-1 win Monday.

"The respect of what they're potentially capable of as a group. They played really hard in our building the other night and everything went our way," said Krueger. "In a lot of portions of the game, they were the better team and deserved more than that score. We need to respect what they're bringing at us today. It'll be a tough, tight game here today."

Krueger added that the team can't look too far ahead even though they know that they would move into a playoff spot with a victory over the Flames tonight.

"The emotions of our whole situation right now and staying calm, controlled and patient in this process. Stay in the day like we have been for the past two weeks and we need to work hard and that's what this group has been all about."

Ryan Jones echoed his coach's comments.

"I think you have to gather yourself over the day off. We talked a little bit in the room this morning about just getting back to playing the way we did against Vancouver. That's up there with our best 60-minute hockey that we've played in awhile," Jones began. "We have to allow our D to get a little bit of a breather. We played a lot of time in our own zone -- whether it was them on the outside and they did get some good scoring chances for sure -- when your D is playing in your own zone for that long, it's taxing."

The Oilers will be going with the exact same lineup tonight as they did against both Calgary and Vancouver:

Hall - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle

Paajarvi - Gagner - Hemsky

Jones - Horcoff - Yakupov

Petrell - Smyth - Brown

Smid - Petry

Schultz - Schultz

Whitney - Potter

Dubnyk

SMITHSON ADDED TO OILERS

Oilers head coach Ralph Krueger was asked to comment on what Smithson brings to the team.

"Smithson will add to our defensive structure. He was a top-minute penalty killer his last few seasons in Nashville. He was a top-three for Florida now too in the one year with them. He's a 53/54% face-off guy and defensive centreman that brings size and depth into our group that we can use."

The Oilers also didn't move any players out on deadline day and Krueger was happy about that, stating that he likes the group he has.

"I'm content with the players we have here. I love the group, I love what they're doing. Everybody's all-in here on their roles and I'm a content coach."

Krueger added that he has avoided a lot of the trade talk speculation that's occurred over the past few weeks.

"We are here to make the playoffs. I've kept myself very far away from any potential changes," said Krueger, stating that the team has no timeline on him right now. "I need to know what is and not what could be. It's a signal that we are here to do everything possible to make the playoffs."

The addition of Smithson helps fill the void left by Eric Belanger's injury.

"It's a soft-tissue injury that's really difficult to monitor the time on it. That he had two relapses shows that it could be a long-term injury. We wish him well and he would increase our depth. Our roster numbers don't matter after tomorrow so if we have 15 or 16 forwards and eight defencemen we're fine with that as coaches. It just gives us depth."

Smithson is expected to join the team for the California portion of their current four-game road trip.

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