SUN Hockey Pool

Spacek, Tarnstrom itching to get into line-up

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 1:55 PM ET

PHOENIX -- Jaroslav Spacek knows where he'll stay. The question now is when he'll play.

Spacek and Dick Tarnstrom, acquired by the Edmonton Oilers Thursday, skated with the Oilers at Glendale Arena yesterday after jetting in from Chicago and Pittsburgh.

One or both could draw in on the blueline tonight because Igor Ulanov sat out yesterday with a sore knee and Matt Greene stayed off the ice with what the team is calling a "sore side."

"I like the speed they play," Spacek said. "They play the same system we did in Chicago with the forecheck hard and the skating game. I like it better than the trap, you know."

Spacek, 31, will be able to settle in back in Edmonton. Spacek and wife Lenka will stay with former Florida teammate Radek Dvorak and his family.

"Family is very important to me," said Spacek, who has a three-year-old son. "We'll be alright. She (Lenka) is best friends with Irena Dvorak and they have a little boy, too. They can play together."

Out of the playoffs since 2000 when he played for the Panthers, Spacek is tickled about heading down the stretch drive with a post-season berth on the line after toiling with the Blackhawks.

"I'm pretty happy to be here, especially being in the playoff picture again," he said. "I haven't been in the playoffs for a long time, so I'm looking forward to that and hoping I can do a good job here."

With eight defenceman, coach Craig MacTavish has said he'll take his time evaluating Spacek and Tarnstrom, so there'll be some juggling in the next while. Neither player had a regular defensive partner yesterday.

"I was sure something was going to happen," said Tarnstrom, who heard his name come up constantly in trade talks. "I just didn't know when, but I'm glad it did and it's worked out pretty good."

Tarnstrom, 31, also has a familiar face to help make him feel at home in Kelly Buchberger, a teammate with the Pens.

"It's great to have a chance to play in the playoffs and compete for that," Tarnstrom said. "I haven't done that in a couple of years, so it feels good."

Spacek, who had scored 7-17-24 in 45 games with the Blackhawks when the Oilers acquired him for Tony Salmelainen, is an offensive-minded type who also tosses his five-foot-11, 205-pound frame around. He'll play for the Czech Republic at the Olympics in Turin.

Tarnstrom, who had just 5-5-10 in 33 games with the Penguins when he was dealt for Jani Rita and Cory Cross, is more a pure offensive player on the back end. He tallied 16-36-52 in 2003-04.

"I like to be an offensive player, but I think I can be a penalty killer and power play," Spacek said. "I can fight sometimes, but we have lots of guys to do that.

"I look for the big hits. I'm not a big guy, but I can be everywhere and I can be almost everything."

With eight bodies and just six jobs available on any given night, there's a degree of uncertainty about who fits where.

Spacek, who'll earn $2.25 million this season, and Tarnstrom, who makes $1.6 million, will be unrestricted free agents this summer.

"It's always good to have offensive guys," said captain Jason Smith. "It's an important part of the game to create offence from the back end. They're excited about being here and looking forward to getting an opportunity to bring an offensive side to the game.

"There's a lot of ice time available throughout a game. Obviously that's why coaches make those decisions about who gets more ice and who gets less ice. Hopefully, we're all playing well and we're all out there."


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