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AT THE MORNING SKATE
After enjoying three days of rest, practice, and fitness training, the Oilers were back in game-day mode Tuesday morning in Dallas. The team took to the ice at 11:30am for a 40-minute morning skate.
Among the notable changes to Edmonton's line-up was the addition of defenceman Taylor Chorney (who was called up Monday to replace injured Jim Vandermeer) as well as rookie Taylor Hall moving from the left wing to centre.
The forward lines were as follows:
Penner - Hall - Hemsky
Paajarvi - Gagner - Omark
Reddox - Cogliano - Jones
Jacques - Fraser - Stortini
When asked about the decision to move Hall to centre, head coach Tom Renney said, "Why not?"
"The kid's played a lot of centre ice in junior and obviously with a Memorial Cup team, he's pretty important to them. So we'll have a look at it," he explained. "It's not like it's completely foreign to him, but certainly at the NHL level, it's a new challenge."
"It's going to be fun," Hall responded. "It's been a while since I played centre, but Tom feels that it could be a good line for our team and a good mix-up. I prepared a little bit for it yesterday in practice and today, just taking face-offs, and I feel pretty good."
Hall added playing centre won't be without its challenges.
"D zone is going to be a little bit different, just being down-low all the time and really having to communicate with your D-men. But we have a good D core on this team, and if we're communicating and we're talking down low, handling things the way they should be, we should be fine."
On the second line, Sam Gagner is also looking forward to having some fun with Swedes Magnus Paajarvi and Linus Omark.
"They're obviously really skilled and they have a lot of chemistry with each other," he said. "I obviously want to play a skilled game and move the puck around with those guys, but I think it's going to be important for us to get into battle areas and make sure that we're working hard off the puck in order to create our offensive changes. And if we have that mindset, hopefully things will go well."
On the blue line, Chorney skated with fellow call-up Jeff Petry. Renney wouldn't commit to that pairing, however.
"We'll see how that goes. There might be a little bit of synergy between the two of them to start. We'll see. Obviously there's six of them, so we'll put the best combinations we can together.
"At the same time, as we've said all along, it's about getting young guys on the ice as much as we possibly can, giving them the experience and us the education," he added.
FACING THE STARS
Renney said his club will have to sharp in some specific areas in order to come out with two points tonight in Dallas.
"I think our start will be important. This is a good team that plays awfully well really anywhere right now, obviously, but certainly in their own rink, they come at you pretty good. The corners are a little more shallow than they are in some rinks, so that forecheck is something we're going to have to move the puck past.
"I think beyond that we've got to make sure that we put pressure on them and force them to at least read the rush and come back to it in their end -- so get pucks in behind them, get pucks deep.
"And I think really a big part of this game, because of the manner in which they push the pace, is to out-change them," he continued. "We need really, really good changes here. They can take advantage of a poor change quickly, so at least we have to make sure that we push the pace off the bench."
Backstopping Edmonton's efforts will be Nikolai Khabibulin.
HEADED TO ALL-STAR
While the Stars are Edmonton's immediate challenge, for three players, a more light-hearted challenge is on the horizon.
Ales Hemsky, Hall, and Jordan Eberle were invited to attend NHL All Star Weekend in Carolina at the end of the month, and all players are looking forward to the experience.
"It's definitely an honour to go there and experience the All Star Game for the first time," Hemsky said. "I didn't really think about it, I didn't expect it, but it's a lot of good players in the league that could be there and they are not there maybe. It is what it is, so I will take it like that and have fun, just have fun and enjoy the time there."
Although Hall and Eberle will not play in the All Star Game, they will join the veterans and their fellow rookies in the Skills Competition.
"It's very exciting and something I'm looking forward to," Hall said. "I think me and Ebs talked about it a little bit, if we had the opportunity to go to Carolina ... It's going to be a very good experience for me."
Read the All Star announcement
-- Jen Sharpe, edmontonoilers.com
Last 10 -- Edmonton 2-6-2; Dallas 5-3-2
Season series -- This is the first of four regular-season meetings between these clubs. The Stars went 2-0-2 in the 2009-10 series, with Edmonton getting two wins via the shootout.
Big Story -- Dallas and Edmonton each will seek to end losing streaks Tuesday. The Stars have dropped five in a row at home, while the visiting Oilers have lost four straight road games. This contest also will mark right wing Jamie Langenbrunner's first home game with the Stars since being traded back to Dallas from New Jersey this past Friday. Langenbrunner was drafted by the Stars in 1993 and won a Stanley Cup with them in 1999. He was traded to the Devils during the 2001-02 season and went on to capture the Cup with New Jersey in 2003.
Oilers -- Edmonton is a team that still is working its way toward becoming competitive again, but appears to be at least another season away from being a viable playoff threat. The Oilers' 33 points through 40 games has them 15th in the Western Conference, seven points behind the 14th-place Calgary Flames.
A 6-1 loss at Vancouver Friday dropped the Oilers to 0-3-1 in their last four road games.
Despite the lopsided result, many of the Edmonton players appeared to be giving it their all Friday.
"The thing that I was impressed with was that we continued to push forward," forward Ryan Jones said. "There wasn't a whole lot of guys giving up on the bench. Guys were sticking up for each other."
Stars -- While Dallas has matched a franchise record with a seven-game road win streak achieved via a 4-0 shutout of the Wild on Sunday, it has hit some hard times at American Airlines Center. The Stars have totaled just eight goals while going 0-3-2 over their last five home games.
Coach Marc Crawford would like to see his club improve on home ice, but he understands why they have been so solid on the road, especially after the convincing win at Minnesota.
"Sometimes you play a game that's a little simpler on the road, and I definitely believe that was the case tonight," said Crawford following Sunday's game.
Who's Hot -- Oilers forward Dustin Penner has 2 goals and 5 assists in his last seven games. … Dallas center Brad Richards has a goal and 6 assists in his last four games.
Injury Report -- Oilers defenseman Ryan Whitney has been sidelined for the last six games with an ankle injury and defenseman Jim Vandermeer missed Friday's game with his own ankle problem. The team recalled defenseman Taylor Chorney from AHL Oklahoma City on Monday to help fill the void on the blue line. Rookie forward Jordan Eberle hasn't played since suffering an ankle injury New Year's Day, followed by an emergency appendectomy Jan. 5. ... Dallas defensemen Karlis Skrastins (broken nose) and Matt Niskanen (hand laceration) are listed as day-to-day, while forward Toby Petersen (lower body) is on injured reserve.
Stat Pack -- The Oilers have been held without a goal over their last 20 power-play opportunities.
Puck Drop -- There are many factors a team can look at when justifying why it has struggled, but most of the Oilers players are aware that the lack of a spark on special teams is the main culprit. Edmonton killed just two of four power plays against Vancouver Friday and was 0-for-4 with its own man-advantage.
"We lost the special-teams battle, and I think on most nights when that happens, you're not going to win," Jones told reporters following the game.
-- Eric Goodman - NHL.com