Reading between the lines

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:28 AM ET

The first two weeks of training camp were all about the rookies: Who's hot, who's not, who's making the team and who'll be singing "wait till next year" on the AHL bus rides.

Yesterday was all about the vets. Head coach Craig MacTavish assembled practice lines that look very much like what he'll ice on opening day and drove them hard.

"I saw what I wanted to see today," said the coach. "Coming off a day off I saw great intensity and great focus. I have no questions as to where the players, and in particular the veterans' heads are right now.

"They're getting ready and focused to start the year. I really liked what I saw today in practice, that told everything I wanted to know."

MacTavish's top three lines skated together, as did the top three defence pairings. "The most important thing is to make sure the veterans are ready to start the year," said MacTavish, who had Ryan Smyth with Shawn Horcoff and Joffrey Lupul; Raffi Torres with Petr Sykora and Ales Hemsky; and Ethan Moreau with Jarret Stoll and Fernando Pisani.

The fourth line, with Patrick Thoresen and Marty Reasoner, is still looking for another winger. J.F. Jacques skated there yesterday. Read into that what you will. "We're looking for some chemistry on the fourth line," said MacTavish. "See who we can fit in there to start the year."

The other leading contenders, Marc-Antoine Pouliot, Toby Petersen and Alexei Mikhnov, made up the fifth line. Brad Winchester skated on the sixth.

LATE HITS ... MacTavish made one cut yesterday, assigning winger Troy Bodie to Wilkes-Barre of the AHL. The Oilers still have 36 players in camp, way too many with most of the decisions having already been made, but with three games in four days (in Edmonton, Phoenix and Vancouver), they need bodies.


Videos

Photos