Reddox could make NHL debut tonight
Liam Reddox is currently ranked among Springfield's leading scorers this season. (photo: Falcons/AHL)
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Now with an injury to forward Kyle Brodziak, Reddox looks to be inserted into the lineup quicker than anticipated.
“I was pretty shocked,” Reddox said of his first thoughts after getting the call. “You’ve got Pouliot down there, Jocko (J-F Jacques), Schremper (Rob Schremp) – a lot of guys who were drafted ahead of me.”
But the thing is, Reddox has been as good as or better than most of those players. Through 15 games, Reddox ranked third on the team in points with 10 and was tied for second on the club in goals with four.
“I’ve been putting in the effort down there and working really hard on my game. It’s nice to see that up here they’re noticing it,” Reddox remarked.
He has also been playing on the power play, penalty kill, late in games and during crucial moments as Springfield head coach Kelly Buchberger has given him a major vote of confidence.
“Bucky’s shown a lot of confidence in my game and has been playing me in every situation,” Reddox stated.
At times, he’s also been the go-to guy for the AHL Falcons. Last month he had a four-game goal-scoring streak and five-game point streak during which he had four goals and seven points. His best effort was a three point night (one goal, two assists) in a 5-2 Springfield win at Albany.
“I’ve heard he’s playing really well. It takes players time to develop. This is his third year and it’s good to see that he’s worked himself from the kind of game he had when we first drafted him to the point where he may be able to come in here and play some minutes and help us,” said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish.
“Kelly said a lot of good things about the way that he played,” MacTavish continued. “A lot of times you get guys from the minors who have a high level of confidence and they can come in short term and help you a little bit.”
Reddox spent last season with Stockton of the ECHL. (photo: George Steckler/Stockton Thunder)
Reddox helped lead the Petes to an OHL Championship in 2005-06. (photo: Getty Images)
“The tempo is a little bit faster in the AHL," he said, comparing the leagues. "Guys are bigger and stronger."
In the Ontario Hockey League, Reddox was a prolific scorer with the Peterborough Petes. In three seasons, he had 86 goals and 210 points while playing in every one of his team’s 204 games. He was also a part of the Petes’ Memorial Cup run in 2005-06.
Reddox was taking the 40 km drive south from Springfield to Hartford, where teammate Colin McDonald lives, when he heard he was going to Edmonton.
“I was on my way to Hartford, headed to Colin McDonald’s house and Bucky called me and told me to turn around, pick up my gear,” he said.
Now, instead of preparing for match-ups this weekend with Norfolk, Manchester and Providence he’s getting prepared for a key Northwest Division match-up Saturday night – the Battle of Alberta.
“I’m just going to try and take it day-by-day, get focused and not be too nervous for tomorrow night.”
This past pre-season, he played one game for the Oilers in Phoenix and was a +1. His only taste of the Battle of Alberta was in the pre-season back in 2006.
“I’ve played two exhibition games, one against Calgary. Even in the exhibition game the atmosphere was unbelievable. I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like tomorrow night.”
After making the jump from ECHL to AHL and now to the NHL in such a short span, Reddox isn’t quite sure what to expect.
“I have no idea, just what guys have told me. The tempo of the game is just that much faster.”
Oilers winger Kyle Brodziak was injured late in Thursday's game against Minnesota, tweaking his leg. He didn't skate Friday or in Saturday's morning skate and is questionable to play Saturday versus Calgary.
"There's no structural damage or anything like that," said Brodziak on Friday. "It's a bruise and swelled up a little more than I thought it was going to this morning. We'll see how it is tomorrow and go from there."
Brodziak's injury mostly came out of a harmless play.
"I don't even know (what really happened). I haven't looked at it. I was along the boards and dumped the puck in. A guy came and hit me on my left side and it's the right side of my knee that's hurting."
The Oilers forward tried to play through the pain but eventually had to admit he was done for the night.
"It was a weird thing that happened. At the time I didn't even think it was that bad. I tried a few shifts and the pain wasn't going away. I tried to skate it out but couldn't put any weight on it."
Saturday morning, Brodziak remarked that he felt much better. He didn't take the morning skate but will take part in the pre-game warm-up. If it feels better, he will play tonight.
"He's on the bike and we're going to see how he responds. He's a lot better today than he was yesterday. Yesterday we had very little hope that he'd play and now we have a little," MacTavish said Saturday morning.
"If he's not close to 100% and capable of going, then we'll play Liam."