SUN Hockey Pool

Sykora needs to draw

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:49 AM ET

There's no ignoring the chemistry between Petr Sykora and Ales Hemsky, but one of the concerns Craig MacTavish has with the pairing is Sykora's ability in the faceoff circle.

He was four-for-11, 36%, Tuesday against Phoenix.

"We're definitely going to have to work on that part of it," said the Oilers coach. "It's still a work in progress. I wanted him to play predominantly at centre in training camp because that's where he fits best on the team."

With Jarret Stoll, Shawn Horcoff and Marty Reasoner, Edmonton was one of the best faceoff teams in the NHL last season. It's a stat they want to maintain this year.

"It's hard to take a mediocre faceoff guy and turn him into a good faceoff guy," said MacTavish. "You either have it or you don't. But he certainly has the savvy and the guile to come up with techniques that can give him an advantage."

They way he and Hemsky work together as a centre and winger, it's hard to break that up, but a winning percentage in the 30s might.

"Thirty percent would be tough," said MacTavish. "He'd have to be a little better than that and I'm sure he will be.

"We can always get a centreman out there to help him on defensive zone faceoffs. With Stollie on the right side, or Horc and Marty on the left side. We have those options."

The Oilers as a team were just 40%, with Toby Petersen and Rob Schremp going 25 and 17%, respectively.


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