THE TEAM TODAY

THE TEAM TODAY: Reddox Redux

After 13-month hiatus, feisty forward hopes to make the most of NHL return

Wednesday, 05.01.2011 / 5:17 PM / The Team Today
By Jen Sharpe  - edmontonoilers.com
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THE TEAM TODAY: Reddox Redux
 
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 5

PRACTICE NOTES

On the heels of Tuesday's 5-3 loss to the Red Wings, the Oilers took to the ice for an hour-long practice at 11am Wednesday morning. In addition to injured skaters Shawn Horcoff, Ryan Whitney, and Jordan Eberle, Theo Peckham was also absent from the skate. Oilers staff said it was a "maintenance day" for the young defenceman.

On the ice, head coach Tom Renney composed the following forward lines:

Hall - Gagner - Hemsky
Penner - Cogliano - Brule
Paajarvi - Reddox - Omark

On the fourth line, Jean-Francois Jacques and Ryan Jones alternated on the left wing alongside Colin Fraser and Zack Stortini.

Although Liam Reddox was slotted in at centre between Magnus Paajarvi and fellow call-up Linus Omark, Renney admitted he isn't sure where he will incorporate the recent additions for Thursday night's game vs. the Islanders.

"[Reddox and Omark] played together in Ok-City, obviously, so there's certainly a good chance that they would stay together, I'm just not sure how to deploy them with either a centre or another winger. That's the great debate for me right now," he said. "I tried Liam at centre today just to have a look at that and get my head around that. We'll see what happens moving forward, but I think there is some synergy there for sure."

REDDOX REDUX

Prior to helping Gilbert Brule score a first-period goal vs. the Wings, Reddox and Omark were a productive pair in Oklahoma City, posting 33 and 31 points respectively for the Barons.

"I've got some chemistry that I've developed down in the 'A' with Linus so I was definitely a lot more comfortable out on the ice, making plays," Reddox said. "I can't even explain how much easier it makes it on me, just having a guy that I'm comfortable with. I don't need to try and do something that maybe I wouldn't do. He knows how I play and I know how he plays, so we just kind of read off each other."

While Omark has already appeared in nine Oilers games this season, this week's call-up is Reddox's first opportunity to impress at the NHL level since since November 2009. The 24-year-old admits he struggled last season with Edmonton's then AHL affiliate in Springfield.

"I did a lot of thinking last year when I got sent down and it took away from my game," he said. "(This year) I just tried to go down there with a positive attitude, be the best I can be down there for the Oklahoma City Barons, and it's paid off because I'm back up here.

"I've definitely developed a little bit more of an offensive game down in the 'A' for the first half of the season, and I'm looking to bring it up here. I don't see why I can't."

Renney sees a change in the Reddox's attitude this year, and he said the Barons culture and coaches deserve some of the credit.

"I asked how it was going down there, and he said 'I'm having a lot of fun.' I guess maybe getting points and having success does that to you, but I think it's an organizational thing," the coach explained. "It's allowing players to go play, play to their strengths, maybe make some mistakes but keep forging ahead.

"I think Liam's been able to sort of purge last year and come back driven, obviously as he always is, but have some success for it finally. And I think the environment and the organization has helped a lot of players feel like they can finally breathe and reach."

SINKING THE ISLES

After making his NHL return Tuesday night vs. Detroit, Reddox will play game number two Thursday night vs. the Islanders. The New York squad struggled through the early part of the season but has won six of their past seven games, including a 5-2 victory over Calgary Monday night.

Tickets are still available. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE


ONE-ON-ONE

In the latest edition of our fan question series, Blake of Sherwood Park submitted a question for Taylor Hall.

BLAKE: "My name is Blake and I am seven. How did you learn to do your backhanded move (backhanded toe drag) and when did you start practicing that? I watch you in warm up behind the net and I think it's really cool. I try it at the rink and at hockey practice and it's really hard."

Taylor Hall
TAYLOR: "It's something that you work on. I had a backyard rink when I was a kid and that's where you kind of be really creative and try different things out. At that point, I had enough coordination where I could pull that off and I started trying it in games and it worked out. It can be a good move at times, if you learn how to use it."

How old were you when you started doing that?

"Probably around 13, I'm not sure. It's a pretty tough move to pull off, but once you do, it works out usually."

Fill out the form on the right to submit a question for one of the Oilers. We will ask one of the submitted questions after the next practice and will post the answer in the next Team Today.

Author: Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com, with files from Tom Gazzola

 
TUESDAY, JANUARY 4

OILERS vs. RED WINGS:
AT THE MORNING SKATE

The Oilers took to the ice for morning skate Tuesday but without two of their most recent additions. Linus Omark and Liam Reddox, who were recalled from the AHL's Oklahoma City Barons Monday afternoon, encountered some flight issues and were unable to make morning skate.

"They should be here any minute now," head coach Tom Renney told the media after the skate at around 11am.

Although arranging travel from Oklahoma to Edmonton is challenging, the coach reminded the media that it was worse in previous seasons (when the AHL affiliate was located in Springfield, Mass.) and that many NHL teams are in the same boat when it comes to cross-country call-ups.

"A lot of teams have to deal with that too, so we're no different than anybody else. We try to give ourselves as much of a heads-up as we possibly can," Renney said. "I don't know that it's a real big deal other than maybe if there's any kind of fatigue involved."

Without the two call-ups, the look of Edmonton's forward lines vs. Detroit wasn't clear this morning. Renney said the team has a contingency plan in case Omark and Reddox don't make it for game time.

"We've tried to settle in on a scenario that would include two players that are coming in and then a scenario that would suggest maybe they don't make it," he explained. "There are different combinations and it's kind of exciting as a coach because that can also happen and evolve during the game, and I don't mind that either."

One new combination that is expected to take to the ice is that of Magnus Paajarvi, Sam Gagner, and Ales Hemsky.

Paajarvi was a healthy scratch last game vs. Calgary and is excited to return to the line-up.

"It was frustrating to sit in the press box for sure, but you learn from that and you move on. I'm playing tonight and I'm excited," he said.

Gagner is looking forward to playing with his new line-mates.

"It's definitely an exciting prospect for us. I think Maggie is obviously pretty excited to get back in the line-up, and with his speed he opens up a lot of room. I think with Hemmer, I've learned how to complement him, and it's just a matter of getting him the puck with speed and then playing my game.

"It should be a fun night if we can get off to a good start and have the right habits, and hopefully we can do that and come out with a win," the centre said.

CLIPPING THE WINGS

Gagner and his teammates will have their hands full tonight. Although the Wings are coming off two home losses and are without sniper Pavel Datsyuk, the club continues to be dangerous and is tied for second in the league with 53 points.

"They have some injuries in their line-up but they're still a very deep team, they're a very deep organization, and we know that in order to have an opportunity to beat them, we have to be on top of our game," Assistant Coach Steve Smith said. "We have to be ready for three strong periods, we have to be ready for a strong start, and we have to be available to be courageous to block shots and do all the little things that help us win."

Renney's respect for the Wings is obvious.

"There are lots of teams that are playing this game really well right now; certainly I don't know of anybody, when they're healthy, better than the Red Wings, and that's with all due respect to five or six other teams that are doing a great job," the coach said.

"There is a style of play that we want to have here in Edmonton, there is a way we want to play, and it's not exactly cookie-cutter Detroit Red Wing, but we have to make sure that we pay attention to what we want to look like a year from now and two years from now and continue to work on that now, every day."

RED WINGS 5 - OILERS 3

Goals by Theo Peckham and Sam Gagner helped the Oilers overcome a two-goal deficit early in the third period, but the Wings answered with two of their own to salvage a 5-3 victory Tuesday night. Gilbert Brule scored Edmonton's first goal, while Nikolai Khabibulin finished the game with 32 saves.

Author: Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com, with files from Bob Stauffer & Tom Gazzola

MONDAY, JANUARY 3

COMBO BREAKER

After participating in an off-ice workout Sunday morning, the Oilers returned to the frozen canvas at Rexall Place to engage in a one-hour practice to help shake the rust from a 2-1 loss to the Calgary Flames over the weekend.

With an all-business attitude early in the session, Head Coach Tom Renney pushed the pace of the individual drills and demanded further precision from his group as the early portions of the practice were, at times, sloppily completed.

Once the dust settled following Renney’s vocal and energetic interlude, practice continued with the players refining the message and completing the drills with precision and a heady effort.

Amidst the sound of skates carving the Rexall Place ice, new line combinations were debuted as the team prepared for the absence of rookie forward Jordan Eberle. The following concoctions were unveiled:

Paajarvi - Gagner - Hemsky
Penner - Cogliano - Hall
Jacques - Brule - Jones
MacIntyre - Fraser - Stortini

Peckham - Gilbert
Smid - Petry
Vandermeer - Foster

PRESS BOX TO PENTHOUSE

Magnus Paajarvi, who was a healthy scratch in Saturday’s dust-up with the Flames, was promoted from the press box to the first line – an opportunity that he believes needs to be captured with his new linemates.

"They're great hockey players," Paajarvi said of Hemsky and Gagner. "But I've been playing great hockey this year, too. I'm just going to try and go out there and do what I do best, and I know they have really good assets too, so I think we can be a really good line.

"Hopefully we can create something. I'm just going to go out there and focus – the first thing on myself."

While the highly talented Swede was looking forward to this new opportunity, the reflection of Saturday’s seat in the press box was still an all too real memory.

Magnus Paajarvi
"It was not fun to be on the outside," said Paajarvi. "We'll see in the long run, but I think it was helpful for me for sure. It was a new experience and I can just learn from that. You get a whole other perspective [from the press box]. You see 10 guys instead of two guys, maybe, and you can see where the lanes are and things like that."

When it came to the reasoning behind his exclusion from the lineup, Paajarvi cited some potential improvements that he needs to focus on.

"Try to get more greasy, more aggressive. Try to use my body a little bit more, things like that."

Paajarvi’s recognition of the areas in need of improvement was a positive sign for the coach.  

"Greasy is in the vocabulary now. That's good," Renney remarked. 

"He knows that. He's a great kid. He's such a great competitor and he just knows that he's got to battle, and make sure that he gets to places first with his speed and stays over top of the job and gets to the dirty areas -- the nasty areas.

He's a talented player; he's a skilled guy. As much as we want him to do those things, and there are ways where he can contribute along those lines, we also want him to use his wonderful talent to blow it open and try things."

Another player who will be re-inserted for tomorrow night’s matchup with the Detroit Red Wings is rookie defenceman Jeff Petry. The smooth-skating blueliner was looking forward to getting back in the rotation following his one-game relegation to the press box. 

As Petry explained, the opportunity presented "a good learning experience" as he continues to establish his name with the coaching staff.

"If you get back to the puck as quickly as possible, it gives you that extra time. Those guys that trap you down low, they're strong enough to hold you off. Just don't give them time to set-up. Get the puck and get it going up ice," Petry said of the learning specifics.

"It is a confidence-builder, but I can't be too comfortable. I have to keep taking it game-by-game, day-by-day and keep working hard to stay up here."

EBERLE UPDATE

After suffering an ankle injury Saturday night against the Flames, the news of Jordan Eberle’s condition was positive today after many feared a longer-term lineup disruption. Eberle emerged from the locker room without a cast and walking, seemingly, under little duress.

Jordan Eberle
"I don't think it's as serious as it looked," Eberle said to relax the media contingent. "I haven't gotten an MRI yet, so I've got to wait for that until tomorrow."

"But the way that I felt the first day and the way that I feel now -- and the fact that I'm walking fine and feeling fine -- it's definitely a relief."

Eberle, who said that he hadn’t been through any kind of injury in his career, recounted the events that led to his ailment.

"I fell in an awkward position and I kind of felt it pop a little bit, but as I got back to the bench it felt better and better. I tried to put a little weight on it, and it was obviously sore. I came in, got an x-ray and there was nothing broken or anything like that, and that was good."

With the rookie itching to get back into the lineup as soon as possible, he’s working hard to rehab the injury and help to accelerate the healing process.

"Obviously I’ve been rehabbing, icing it and taking care of it over the past few days; go to the pool today and do some work on it there and, like I said, doing the right things to make sure I get back into the lineup as soon as I can."

"I'm hoping to get on the ice soon," Eberle concluded.

Although injuries have played a large role in the recent headlines, Renney wasn’t about to insert any excuses for the team’s recent play or for the atmosphere around the locker room.

"It’s always a challenge and it's always worth it. I don't need to get philosophical, but there are a lot of people in tougher situations than our guys having to play through this. It's game-on for us. Let's just go play and let's just try to put our best foot forward every night and improve by the circumstance."

The Oilers will aim to do that tomorrow night when the Detroit Red Wings visit Rexall Place. Limited singles and standing tickets are still available, so act now before they sell out!

  Purchase tickets online

OILERS RECALL PAIR

Due to the uncertainly with Eberle's injury and the fact that the team currently does not have any extra forwards available, the Oilers have recalled Linus Omark and Liam Reddox from the AHL's Oklahoma City Barons.

ONE-ON-ONE

In the latest edition of our fan question series, Gillan of Edson submitted a question for Theo Peckham.

GILLAN: "Do you listen to music before games to get pumped up?"

Theo Peckham
THEO: "Lately I've been listening more to band called Middle Class Rut. It's a little bit more alternative. I like them, I like Soulja Boy's 'Mean Mug' -- that gets me fired up, too. I have an iPod that I use, I like to listen to my music to get pumped up before games and before warm-up. I've always done that since I was a kid."

Fill out the form on the right to submit a question for one of the Oilers. We will ask one of the submitted questions after the next practice and will post the answer in the next Team Today.


Author: Ryan Dittrick | edmontonoilers.com, with files from Tom Gazzola

 

 


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