Headed into uncharted territory

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:37 AM ET

Playing in Florida, Columbus and Chicago, Jaroslav Spacek traditionally has had plenty of time on his hands come spring.

In his nine years in the NHL, Spacek has played a total of four playoff games.

And had it not been for a mid-season trade bringing him to Edmonton from the Chicago Blackhawks, Spacek would have been on the outside looking in again this year.

Instead, the native of Rokycany, Czech Republic, is preparing to play in the second playoff series of his career.

"It's always what you are looking for, to go to the playoffs," said Spacek. "I've played in a couple of world championships and Olympics but this will be different. The playoffs are different, the atmosphere is very good and its very positive. It should be a lot of fun."

Spacek, 32, began his NHL career with the Florida Panthers in 1998. That season the Panthers missed the playoffs. They were swept out of the first round by the New Jersey Devils the next season and the following year, the Panthers missed the playoffs again.

Spacek then went to Chicago for two years, where the Blackhawks failed to qualify for the playoffs in both seasons. Three years in Columbus did not help the playoff situation.

But that's not to say Spacek has never played in high-stakes games. He won a gold medal at the 1998 Olympics and at the 2001 world championships. He also played in the 2002 and 2006 Olympics.

"It's a little different playing in the playoffs than the Olympics and world championships," he said. "In the playoffs, you are playing a best-of-seven series. You don't have to win every game, but you have to be ready for the next game. In the world championship it is a little different. You have to win every game to win something."

Spacek is one of 15 Oilers with less than 15 games of playoff experience heading into the first-round series with the Red Wings. Regardless, the Oilers defenceman is confident heading into the series.

"I think it's a good matchup for us and we're looking forward to it," he said. "We've played well against them this year.

"We also battled every game for the last two months to get into the playoffs. For us, it won't be too much different. Detroit had a playoff spot a month and a half ago. Now that we're in the playoffs, we just have to keep battling and play like we were playing every game before, so I think it will help us a lot."


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