SUN Hockey Pool

Will Jiggy pop?

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:22 AM ET

Please, sir, can I have another?

It'll take more than a leather facial and a messed up mullet to discourage Ryan Smyth from plunking his backside in front of whoever is tending twine for the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim here tonight.

If it's J.S. Giguere, who played Mr. Meltdown the last time the Edmonton Oilers and Mighty Ducks met, twice mauling Smyth for being a pain in the butt, and helping the Oilers to a 6-3 win at The Pond Jan. 25, that's fine with No. 94.

If it's Ilya Bryzgalov, that's OK, too.

Giguere sat out four straight games after Smyth got in his face and under his skin before getting back in coach Randy Carlyle's good books and stiffing San Jose 2-0 with 34 saves on Saturday.

WINNING WITHOUT J.S.

The Mighty Ducks, in fact, have overcome Jiggy's untimely tantrum rather nicely with four wins in five games since their stopper snapped, lost it and over-reacted to Smyth.

They come calling tonight just five points in arrears of the Oilers in Western Conference standings.

All of which should make for considerable intrigue when the puck drops and Smyth gets his first opportunity to set up in his office and see what happens next. He won't be hard to find.

"I'm not going to change my game because of an incident like that," insists Smyth. "I'm sure he might change his actions. He'll want to get a win out of here. He'll take that as motivation."

When Smyth gave Giguere's stick a deft tap on a power-play goal by Chris Pronger to put the Oilers up 4-3, Anaheim's 2003 playoff MVP lost his grip and laid on the leather.

About all that was missing from the replays of Giguere's multiple slaps and repeated pokes upside Smyth's mug, and a well-place jab behind the knee with his stick, were sound effects from a Three Stooges' episode.

What wasn't funny was that Chris Pronger pumped another puck past Giguere on the ensuing 5-on-3 power play - with Smyth right back in Giguere's kitchen - to put the Oilers up 5-3.

"If we can get him to do that again, I'll be extremely surprised," said Oilers coach Craig MacTavish. "The thing you worry about is, obviously, Giguere has tremendous motivation. I'm sure he knows he put his team in a very, very awkward position that game.

"You know what players are like. Given the opportunity to rectify it, he'll do everything in his power to get that game back."

In all, Giguere took two minors for roughing, another for tripping and a 10-minute misconduct. He also got into a spat with Carlyle at the bench when the coach glanced at the scoreboard and voiced his displeasure.

"You're definitely not going to intimidate him, that's for sure," MacTavish said of Smyth. "He won't be dissuaded to go the area where he's had a lot of success in his career."

Saturday's 3-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks snapped a five-game losing skid at home for the Oilers, but with the Mighty Ducks hanging around, there's still no margin for error with four games to play before the Olympic break.

PRESSURE EVERY NIGHT

"I guess it's good for the fans, the race and everything," MacTavish said.

"But, man, it's a lot of pressure every night. The team that's going to be able to deal with it, playing under that pressure through the schedule, is the team that's going to improve their standing."

Smyth was back in business against the Canucks, setting up in front of Alex Auld and deflecting Pronger's point shot for his 23rd goal of the season and a 1-0 lead.

"It's those types of efforts we need," Smyth said. "That's the type of game, especially with these divisional games, that we have to find a way to push the repeat button on."

Pushing buttons is Smyth's speciality.

"We obviously can't take these guys for granted," Smyth said of the Mighty Ducks.

"They're playing some good hockey. They came out strong for the first two periods the last time, but we hung in and showed some discipline in the third period. The incident happened and we got the win."


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