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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."
-- Jen Sharpe, edmontonoilers.com
Last 10: Columbus 2-5-3; Edmonton 6-3-1.
Season Series: This is the second of four meetings between the teams. Columbus earned a 3-2 shootout victory against Edmonton on Oct. 28 at Nationwide Arena.
Big Story: Columbus earned a point in the standings Wednesday night in a 3-2 overtime loss at Vancouver, but the Blue Jackets have slipped a bit in the Central Division thanks to two wins in their last 10 games. Ryan Kesler scored all three goals for the Canucks.
"He certainly was the best player on the ice," Columbus coach Scott Arniel said. "Sometimes he gets overshadowed by other players on the team but his speed and his skill are real dangerous."
Blue Jackets: Tom Sestito's first NHL goal erased a 2-1 deficit 7:34 into the third period Wednesday night, but Ryan Kesler's third goal of the game resulted in a 3-2 defeat for the Blue Jackets. Mathieu Garon made 27 saves, but it wasn't enough to avoid the club's fifth straight loss on the road.
"We've shown there's a lot of heart on this team, and we're right there," Sestito said. "It's close, and hopefully we start getting two points."
Oilers: Edmonton enters Thursday's action hoping to avoid a three-game losing streak. In the fifth of a six-game homestand, the Oilers suffered a 4-1 loss at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night. Edmonton was whistled for five penalties in the second period and allowed a pair of power-play goals.
"We started to take too many penalties and it disrupted the flow of the game," rookie forward Jordan Eberle said. "We just couldn't get the momentum back. When you don't come out ready for the second period, that's when you take penalties."
Who's Hot: Rick Nash leads the Blue Jackets with 17 goals in 29 games. … Oilers rookie Taylor Hall has four goals this month and now has 10 on the season, while Eberle has goals in back-to-back games.
Injury Report: Jared Boll (back) is day-to-day for Columbus, while Derek Dorsett (leg) is questionable after going down during the second period on Wednesday night. … Edmonton will be without Ales Hemsky (groin), Shawn Horcoff (knee) and Jim Vandermeer (ankle).
Stat Pack: Columbus outhit the New York Rangers 47-21 last Saturday night … Oilers defenseman Jason Strudwick cracked the lineup for the first time in 14 games on Tuesday. His team is last in the League in shots on goal per game (25.2).
Puck Drop: "There's a certain fragility with trying to get traction and be a respectable team and a consistent team, so as a coach you work different angles at different times. The big thing that you want them to know is that you're doing everything you can to try to help them, because you're going to be demanding on the other side of that anyway." -- Oilers coach Tom Renney
-- Brian Compton - NHL.com Staff Writer