OILERS vs. BLUE JACKETS:
AT THE MORNING SKATE
The Oilers took to the ice at 10am for their morning skate Thursday, with a few notable changes up front.
After sitting out Tuesday's game vs. Toronto, rookie Ryan O'Marra returns to line-up and will center Magnus Paajarvi and Linus Omark.
"I've got to learn how to speak Swedish pretty quickly here," O'Marra quipped.
"We're going to teach him some words, but you don't have the time to talk in Swedish either way, so it's going to be English for sure," Paajarvi assured.
Head coach Tom Renney likes the look of the rookie threesome.
"It's a combination of people that I think will be able to create some offence," he said. "Ryan O'Marra is a two-way centerman that can be responsible in his own end. You can understand why I would want that, obviously.
"From a creative point of view and attack speed and being tough to handle in the offensive zone, I think [Omark and Paajarvi] can make some things happen."
O'Marra is looking forward to playing with the Swedes.
"It's going to be good," he said. "Paajarvi's got unbelievable speed, his first two strides are incredible, and Linus' creativity is obvious. I'm just going to distribute them the puck and be solid in my zone and be strong positionally and open up ice for them in the offensive zone with some big hits."
On another reconfigured line, Andrew Cogliano will center Dustin Penner and Gilbert Brule.
"I'm very comfortable playing with Pens -- he's a good guy to play with, he's strong, he's big, holds the puck in," Cogliano said. "And Brule, I think he's got such a good shot, he's on the forecheck.
"We're definitely a line that needs to bring some offence with guys like Horc and Hemmer out."
The Oilers are the third-youngest team in the NHL, thanks to the addition of five rookies and the departure of a handful of veterans.
One of those vets was Ethan Moreau, and he makes his return to Edmonton tonight. Players and coaches have fond memories of their former captain.
"I had Chopper as a 17-year-old in Japan at the Pacific Cup as a very young player, and I certainly saw a guy that was going to be an NHLer then and an NHLer full of the right DNA when it came to competitiveness, battle level, leadership," Renney said. "To see him play for the Oil as long as he did, to see him wear the C for as long as he did, didn't surprise me at all."
"There are times when change is necessary and I think what we forget about is sometimes that change is really good for the player, a really good thing. I'm not going to say that I disagree with him not being here or not, I think the bottom line is Ethan has a new lease on life, he's an NHL player, he's a leader, he's important to his team, clearly, and good for him. I've got personal history with him and I have a lot of respect for him."
Brule said he became "good friends" with Moreau last season but won't hold back out on the ice.
"It's his first time back here so I'm sure he's going to be full of life tonight and excited to play, but we treat him like any other guy on their team, we just play him hard. We do miss him over here, but he's on the other team now so he's our enemy now."
TAKING ON THE JACKETS
Edmonton will have its hands full with Moreau and the rest of the Jackets tonight. Renney wants to see a spirited yet disciplined effort from his club.
"We have to be disciplined, naturally. We've got to play an assertive game. We cannot play on our heels. I would rather lose going after things and going forward than trying to play tentative," he said.
"I think beyond that we have to make sure that we've got the requisite energy and pace off the bench, out-changing teams. We had a too-many-men penalty the other night because of a brian cramp and that's just not being engaged. And we have to make sure that we are all about that every single time we play."
OILERS 6 - BLUE JACKETS 3
It went back and forth through the first 20 minutes, but thanks to an impressive total team effort -- including an 11-point contribution by five rookies and strong showing from Nikolai Khabibulin between the pipes -- the Oilers soared to a 6-3 win over the Blue Jackets in the remaining 40.
Author: Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com, with files from Tom Gazzola & Bob Stauffer