SUN Hockey Pool

Generous mood

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:46 AM ET

Like the Zamfir box-set of pan flute classic CD's you got from uncle Bob at Christmas, the Edmonton Oilers would love to take back the mistake-laden 4-1 dud they produced against the Minnesota Wild on Boxing Day.

Apparently stale after two days off during the holiday season, the Oilers largesse was boundless against the Wild as they committed 33 turnovers, equalling a season high, in allowing Minnesota to put the brakes on their five-game winning streak.

"I thought they played as well against us as any team has the last number of games," said Oilers coach Craig MacTavish, who is expecting a better effort in the rematch against Minnesota tonight.

"We weren't sharp at all in our game. We put together 10 or 15 consistent games in a row. (Monday) was not one of those, for sure."

Minnesota scored a power-play goal and got another shorthanded, but the 33 turnovers against Jacques Lemaire's patient masters of the trap was the storyline. That equalled the number of pucks the Oilers coughed up in a 4-3 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes Oct. 13.

SEASON LOW OF ONE

The Oilers season-low, by the way, came Nov. 11 in a 3-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets when they were charged with just one giveaway. The Oilers committed eight in beating the Wild 4-3 in Minnesota No. 23.

"We're a team that protects the puck pretty well on the walls and creates a lot of offence that way," MacTavish said. "If you're just trying to jam pucks out into the slot blind, they transition in a hurry.

"Their transition game is as good as any team I've seen so far. They prey on the turnovers and we gave them lots of those."

With points in 15 of their last 18 games, MacTavish will give his team the benefit of the doubt. He's not going to dismantle lines or defence pairings based on one bad - very bad - game.

'DIFFICULT GAME'

"It's easy to attribute that to a couple of days off if we bounce back with a really good, solid effort," he said. "It's going to be a very difficult game again.

"We're going to have to be comfortable playing in a tight game. I feel like the game is going to be tight all the way through."

GREENE WAITS: Rookie defenceman Matt Greene has yet to make his NHL debut despite being summoned from the AHL twice this month, but the former University of North Dakota captain will likely get a look-see soon.

"I want to get Matt in," MacTavish said. "Collectively, we under-performed (Monday), so I'm hesitant to pin that on anybody and take them out, so I think I'll throw the whole group back in.

"You get comfortable in the environment and realize what you have to work on, so that will help him."

Called up for the first time Dec. 7 and the second time Dec. 19 before a game in Vancouver, Greene is biding his time. There's a chance Greene will draw in against Nashville Friday or in Calgary Saturday.

AROUND THE RINK: With Shawn Horcoff getting yesterday off because of the flu, Michael Peca skated between Ryan Smyth and Ales Hemsky on the first line. If Horcoff isn't good to go tonight, Peca will play the pivot on the top line ... Radek Dvorak, on injured reserve with a strained groin, is about a week away from returning. Indications are he'll make his return to the line-up next Tuesday against Chicago or Jan. 7 against Toronto.


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