Glad handing

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:00 PM ET

COLUMBUS -- Sergei Samsonov enjoyed a much warmer reception yesterday than the one goalie Dwayne Roloson received on his first day with the new team.

Of course, anything short of a wedgie and a pie in the face in the hotel lobby is a better start than the one Roloson and the Oilers got off to Thursday night.

A day after hanging their netminder out to dry in a dreadful 5-2 loss in San Jose, the players met up with Samsonov in Columbus and welcomed him to the fold with a round of handshakes.

Samsonov didn't watch the game, but he saw the highlights. And he still showed up, which should tell you a little something about his courage.

"I hope I fit in,'' said the 27-year-old former Bruin, who left the only NHL team he's ever known in a deadline deal for Marty Reasoner, Yan Stastny and a second-round draft pick.

"There's definitely a lot at stake, the team is battling for a playoff spot. There's definitely some pressure but I'm looking forward to putting an Oilers uniform on.''

LITTLE HELP

They're looking forward to having him. Of course, they said the same thing about Roloson and had a funny way of showing it.

"We should have helped him a little more, got the win for him,'' said defenceman Jaroslav Spacek. "It was kind of a tough game for us.''

And him. Now it's Samsonov's turn to make his grand entrance, which isn't always easy when you've had all of one 30-minute morning skate to get your bearings.

"Hopefully it's not that long, but there's definitely going to be some adjustment,'' said Samsonov, whose 37 points put him sixth in Oilers scoring. "I've never played in the Western Conference, the travel is a little different, but in the end you're just playing hockey.''

MacTavish, always conscious of dressing room chemistry, isn't certain yet where Samsonov will settle in for the long haul, but he says he isn't going to disrupt a first line that's been good all year (unless the flu keeps Ales Hemsky out), or a second line that's been very good the last few games.

Not yet, anyway.

"We'll work him in with the remaining forwards and play him on the power play and let his performance dictate where he plays. If he's outplaying any of the other six on the top two lines, he'll go in there. If it takes him a while to get comfortable he'll play down in our lineup.

"It's not a natural fit for him anywhere right now, but it's a nice problem to have, where to fit in a seventh offensive player.''

Coming to a new team, knowing everyone on the bench is taking in their first impressions, is something all traded players have to deal with. It's why most of them are a little slow out of the gate.

"You try not to make mistakes,'' said Spacek. "They traded for you for a reason, but you're thinking I don't want to look bad, don't want to make a mistake, in the beginning with a new team. You feel the atmosphere, guys are looking at you.''

Especially in Samsonov's case. His presence, and that of Roloson, is supposed to make Edmonton a playoff force.

SOME NERVES

"He's got to fit in and get some chemistry with some linemates,'' said MacTavish. "Sometimes that can be instant and sometimes it can be an ongoing process.

"I don't think there's any set time frame, but we're hoping it's soon. It has to be soon because of the situation we're in right now.

"I think he'll be a little nervous, but he's such a skilled guy, you obviously have a lot of confidence when you're blessed with that much ability, that he'll settle in pretty quick.''

"There's definitely a little bit of pressure coming to a new team, hopefully it's not going to show up too much on the ice,'' said Samsonov, who'll wear No. 12 to start with (lots of goals left in Dave Hunter's old jersey).

"You have to pretty much prove yourself again.''


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