SUN Hockey Pool

Looking to ambush weary Wild

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:58 AM ET

You can bet the Edmonton Oilers will be looking to get out of the gate fast when the Minnesota Wild coming calling at Rexall Place tonight.

With the Wild hosting the Colorado Avalanche last night, arriving late and playing their third game in four nights against the Oilers, they'll be as weary as the Oilers were in Denver on Tuesday after they beat the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim 6-5 in a shootout at home the night before.

"We have to," replied coach Craig MacTavish when asked if the Oilers can take advantage of the weary Wild. "It's a tough turnaround. We went to overtime. It's tough to overcome that.

"To do that, you have to be on top of your game mentally. Minnesota has that positional ability. They'll be good positionally. We weren't particularly good in Denver mentally, and we couldn't overcome it."

The Oilers have had two days off since losing 5-2 to the Avalanche, but while they're somewhat rested, they'll be without Ethan Moreau (sprained ankle) and Dick Tarnstrom (respiratory infection).

Captain Jason Smith is very doubtful (bruised toe), and Michael Peca is nursing a sore hip-flexor.

"We're concerned," said MacTavish. "We've got injuries that are severely hampering the depth we have at the forward position.

"We're fortunate the organization added two defencemen when we did because almost immediately after that we ran into injuries back there. We're going to be able to survive at the defensive position.

"Forward is a little more difficult. It's going to be important that we get Michael back. Hopefully, he'll be able to come back. I don't know what the situation is there."

PECA POSSIBLE

Peca gave his hip-flexor a test before taking part in practice yesterday and he'll try to go tonight.

"It's a day-to-day thing," Peca said.

He injured himself late in the second period against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday. He dressed against Anaheim, playing just over 10 minutes, then stayed behind when the team jetted to Denver.

"I've never had any hip-flexor or groin problems in my career," Peca said. "I'm hoping this is something that isn't going to linger too long."

AROUND THE RINK

The NHL trade freeze begins today and runs through Feb. 27, but players not needing waivers can be assigned to the minors, which means J.F. Jacques is eligible to be returned to Hamilton and Kyle Brodziak can be sent back to Iowa.


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