SUN Hockey Pool

Deja vu for Peca, Torres

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:50 AM ET

PHILADELPHIA -- They're taking different approaches to a swing that begins in the City of Brotherly Love, but Michael Peca and Raffi Torres will be back in their old stomping grounds for the next week with the Edmonton Oilers.

On a tour of the Long Island Expressway and New Jersey Turnpike that will take them from Philadelphia, where the Oilers face the Flyers tonight, to Long Island Saturday and the swamps of New Jersey on Tuesday, Peca and Torres know this Atlantic Division turf like the backs of their hands.

For Peca, who'll be returning to Long Island for the first time since GM Mike Milbury dealt him and his $3.99 million salary for Mike York and a conditional draft pick last August, all three stops represent familiar ground.

Peca, 31, played 222 games over three seasons with the Islanders, fighting the good fight against the powerhouse Flyers and Devils.

NO ILL FEELINGS

"It'll be fun to go back," Peca said. "There's absolutely no ill feelings between me and the Islanders. It was a business decision. I still have a large debt of gratitude that I owe toward Mike and the organization for what they did for me."

After seven straight seasons of missing the playoffs and playing in a half-empty building, the Isles made the playoffs in each of Peca's three years, losing in the opening round each time.

"It's satisfying that we kind of turned the corner after a lot of years of not being in the playoffs," Peca says of his tenure on Long Island.

"We enjoyed success, but not the success we wanted."

Torres, meanwhile, has considerably more edge to his assessment of another homecoming against the Islanders, who selected him fifth overall in the 2000 Entry Draft, but sent him packing for Alberta after just 31 games.

That's really no surprise, given the rambunctious redhead's edgy personality and that he really only got a cup of coffee before Milbury showed him the door. Raffi's going with the tried-and-true "I'll show those guys" bit.

"They traded you so that means they didn't want you," grins Torres.

"They took me as a high pick, so the last time I was there I was really focused and I thought I had a strong game."

Torres, 24, obtained from the Islanders with Brad Isbister for Janne Niinimaa and a conditional pick in March of 2003, picked up two assists the first time he faced his old team at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum - a 3-2 loss to the Isles last January.

History suggests Peca, who has just two goals and eight points to show for the 24 games he's played with the Oilers, might get something going on this trip. As a member of the Islanders and Sabres, he's scored 5-11-16 in 33 games against the Flyers. He was 10-10-20 in 34 games against the Devils. While in Buffalo, Peca was 1-13-14 against the Isles.

A COMFORT LEVEL

"You play almost 10 years against certain teams, you establish something of a comfort level going into those buildings," Peca said. "Hopefully, I haven't forgotten too much about what that feeling is like going into these rinks."

Torres has six games against the Flyers on his NHL resume, in which he's tallied 1-1-2. He's played two games against the Devils, which have produced 1-0-1.

Torres says he likes banging against the big bodies out here.

"I loved playing here," Torres said. "It's physical and there's usually a lot of grit in the line-up when you play the Flyers and Devils. There's some big guys."

That fact, and the tidy roll Torres has been on while playing alongside Jarret Stoll - 12 goals on the season and six points in his last five games - could make for a noteworthy trip.


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