FEATURE: Peca finds his game
Michael Peca has one assist through two playoff games so far
-photo by Getty Images
When Michael Peca was acquired from the New York Islanders last August many predicted a 20-goal, 60-point season.
With only nine goals and 23 points through 71 regular season games, not everything went as planned for the gritty, two-way centre in 2005-06 but when the season hit the stretch drive, Peca found himself playing more often and in key situations as his play improved.
"With a month left in the season I got my legs under me for whatever reason," said Peca. "I felt great and when you feel good physically your confidence grows tremendously."
Peca prides himself on playing a tough, physical game and matching up against the opposing teams top players. At the start of the season he saw a lot of time on the Oilers scoring lines and top power play unit and for whatever reason didnt take to the new role.
"For whatever reason, the year off or the new environment, I just mentally, physically, emotionally didnt have all three clicking together to play a competitive game that Im accustomed to playing."
But now Peca is most certainly clicking and has been one of the keys to Edmontons playoff success so far after two games. He seems to have really found his niche playing between Fernando Pisani and Raffi Torres.
"Last game of the season against Colorado we were put together for the first time and had a really good game together," Peca said of his current linemates. "We seemed to find each other pretty well and enjoy playing with each other."
Peca noted one of the strengths of the Oilers is the ability to place any player on any one line. Its a strategy thats giving the Red Wings fits and could imperil them further now that Edmonton has last line change at home.
"Weve got a team where you can spot any player on any one line. Brad Winchester is a good example of that."
With tough defensive play, Peca and the Oilers are giving Detroit little room to maneuver. With a more defence-oriented strategy, the so-called 2-2-1 "press" defensive system is working.
"Whether we stick with or not, I dont know. Its a game plan thats being executed against the Detroit Red Wings because of what they do. In any sport, you have to come up with a game plan specific for the team youre playing against. Footballs a great example of that. It can change game-to-game and series-to-series."
A Stanley Cup Finalist in 1999 with Buffalo, Peca is looking for another opportunity to get back to the leagues pinnacle.
"I enjoy the playoffs. I enjoy competing in the playoffs and more than anything, at this stage in my career I want to win a championship.
"You want to take advantage of it because its the most difficult championship to win, I think, in any sport bar none."
With two games now on home ice, the Oilers can seize control of the series and send it back to Detroit with the Red Wings reeling.
"The opportunities are few and far between and I think weve got a team right here that can accomplish that.