SUN Hockey Pool

Gator wearing the 'C' with pride

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:13 AM ET

The captain of a team is supposed to be the first guy in the line of fire.

Jason Smith proved the 'C' belongs on his chest in his last two exhibition games by getting down and dirty.

He dropped the gloves when Dallas's B.J. Crombeen gave a snow shower to Ty Conklin and then against Vancouver, Smith exchanged fists with Ed Jovanovski, after clobbering Nathan Smith which gave the Oil a much-needed momentum swing.

"If you're a goal-scorer, you've got to score goals at big times and if you're a physical player or a grinder then you've got to do that kind of stuff," said Smith. "It's all about putting it all together as a team and doing the right things to win."

As a heart and soul guy, Smith has taken stock of talented youngsters who've come into training camp and offered advice along the way. He's been suitably impressed by what they've brought to the table.

"The forwards like Pouliot and Schremp and the guys on the back end like Matt Greene and Danny Syvret have stepped up and played really well," said Smith. "They're doing the little things right, which is important, and not making major errors which is something that's going to be a huge part of our team doing well."

TESTING JUSSI: Jussi Markkanen had another set of X-rays taken yesterday morning on his injured left collarbone, but he was out on the ice with goaltender coach Pete Peeters and facing shots - albeit not exactly rockets from the point - for the first time in camp. If the latest pictures show the fracture healing nicely, Markkanen could be taking part in full practices this weekend. His target is still to get some work under his belt before the regular-season opener Oct. 5.

He isn't concerned that the apparent rust that has plagued Ty Conklin during the exhibition games will also be a factor for him, considering his lack of ice time over the past three weeks.

"I have my own things on my mind and that's enough for me," said Markkanen.

"I don't even want to think about how it's going to go when I get there. I just want to get myself ready for having a chance to play and I'll enjoy it whenever it happens. I believe it will go fine, but we'll have to wait and see.


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