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AT THE MORNING SKATE
Game day in Nashville started with a new experience for Denis Grebeshkov: less than 24 hours after flying into Tennessee as an Oiler, the defenceman donned the Predators jersey and took to the ice for morning skate.
After Preds practice, Grebeshkov said that he's excited to call Music City home.
"I'm looking forward to it and I hope I'm going to help Nashville."
When asked if he's anxious about facing his former teammates so quickly, the soft-spoken defenceman was unsure.
"I don't know. We'll see. But I guess it's going to be weird for me," he admitted. "I'll be professional. It's part of the business. At some point I'm going to play against them so might as well just start right away."
Oilers up next
After Nashville's skate, Edmonton took to the ice at Sommet Center. Head Coach Pat Quinn ran the same lines as during Monday's practice, with Dustin Penner, Sam Gagner and Robert Nilsson on the top line, and Shawn Horcoff centering Ethan Moreau and Mike Comrie.
Tonight's game is the first since February 14th for both clubs, and the Oilers are hoping the Olympic Break pays off in a win.
"We've only had two players participate in the Olympic Games so we have a relatively healthy, fresh group back so we have to make sure we capitalize on that," Associate Coach Tom Renney said. "In order to do that we have to push the pace and make sure that our change game is good, whereby we get pucks deep, we get off the ice hard, we go on the ice hard and really try to push the pace in Nashville if we can."
"I think that when you have a break like that, you really have to try to focus early and simplify things," forward Mike Comrie added. "For us to be successful and win tonight it's going to take all of us being on the same page and not trying to do too much."
The Oilers will also be trying not to think too much about Wednesday's trade deadline.
"There's some guys that are nervous about what their future has in store and that's on every team in the league, so everyone has to deal with it," Quinn said. "I think our jobs are the same thing: try to have your guys ready to play and ready to succeed and that's the way that we've approached today."
Andrew Cogliano's name has been mentioned in a few trade rumours over the past few days and he said he's "getting used to it a bit.
"It seems like I'm in a lot of rumours, but unless you hear from Steve (Tambellini) or the organization you don't believe in any of those. It's a situation where it's a business so you kind of go along with it."
OILERS (19-36-6) at PREDATORS (33-23-5)
Last 10: Edmonton 3-7-0; Nashville 4-4-2
Season series: Fourth and final meeting of the regular season between these teams, with the road team coming out victorious in each of the first three matchups. Patric Hornqvist leads all scorers with three goals. A different goaltender has recorded the win in each game (Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers for the Oilers; Dan Ellis and Pekka Rinne for the Predators).
Big story: Nashville made the Stanley Cup Playoffs in four consecutive seasons from 2004-08 before missing out last season. Determined to get back, the Predators made a move to shore up their blue line Monday by acquiring Denis Grebeshkov from -- guess who? -- the same Edmonton squad they will face Tuesday night. Nashville resumes play seventh in the Western Conference, just two points ahead of ninth-place Calgary.
Oilers: It wouldn't be a surprise if Edmonton swung another deal or two before the 3 p.m. trade deadline on Wednesday -- the Oilers are last overall in the League standings and it's time to start thinking about next season. In return for Grebeshkov, who had six goals and 19 points in 47 games this season, they received a second-round pick in the 2010 Entry Draft.
"We're wishing Denis well," coach Pat Quinn said after practice Monday. "He was fun to work with, he was open-minded, and certainly a coachable guy. It didn't probably go as well with us as we'd all hoped, but none of us have been that good. So this is a great opportunity for him."
Predators: Among the players Nashville welcomes back from the Olympics in Vancouver are two top defensemen who were enemies in Sunday's goal-medal game, Shea Weber of Canada and Ryan Suter of the U.S. The Predators stack up well along the blue line, but didn't hesitate when the opportunity to add another good one presented itself.
"I think it stands on its own," assistant GM Paul Fenton told the Tennessean. "We're trying to strengthen our complete team, and to add to the depth of our defense is what our biggest position was. I don't think you can have enough defensemen.
"To get a player like Denis is, he fits right into the kind of guy we're looking for. He transitions the puck, he's a great skater and he's very good defensively. He takes care of all his responsibilities from his own end out. And he adds the dimension of being another really solid top-four defenseman for us. Not a lot of teams can say they have six or seven defensemen that can play in their top four."
Who's hot: Ethan Moreau had two goals and two assists in three games for the Oilers prior to the break. … Jordin Tootoo has a three-game goal streak for the Predators.
Injury report: Edmonton forwards Jean-Francois Jacques (back), Sam Gagner (knee) and Ethan Moreau (neck) are all day-to-day. Defenseman Ladislav Smid is currently out with a bulging disc in his neck. Goalie Nikolai Khabibulin (back), defenseman Sheldon Souray (hand) and forwards Ales Hemsky (shoulder) and Ryan Stone (knee) are all on injured reserve.
Nashville hopes to have defenseman Cody Franson back in the lineup from a broken rib. Forward Jerred Smithson (foot) also expects to play Tuesday.
Stat pack: Weber led Canadian defenseman in Vancouver with two goals and tied Dan Boyle and Duncan Keith with six points. He also had a plus-4 rating in seven games. Suter had four assists and led Team USA with a plus-9 rating in six games.
Puck drop: Nashville gets a new D-man and Grebeshkov gains 27 points in the standings by moving from the Oilers to the Predators. But a playoff spot is far from a certainty unless this season's resurgence in the Music City continues.
-- Brian Hunter, NHL.com