Dandy debut for Reddox

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:36 AM ET

DETROIT -- Liam Reddox was walking through the terminal at the Edmonton International Airport yesterday when someone yelled out: "Hey, nice goal last night, Liam."

Reddox smiled and thanked the stranger on his way to customs as the Edmonton Oilers boarded a flight to Detroit.

It obviously didn't take long for the rookie to make an impression.

"I think things went pretty well (Saturday) night," Reddox said. "I felt like (head coach) Craig MacTavish was showing a lot of confidence in me. He was getting me out there in a lot of situations. He was getting me out there, allowing me to get my feet under me and I just felt good throughout the game."

ENERGY PLAYER

Called up from the Oilers AHL affiliate in Springfield on Tuesday to inject energy into a stagnant lineup, Reddox, 22, scored his first NHL goal midway through the second period.

The native of Whitby, Ont., took a rebound off the end boards and tucked it past Colorado Avalanche goaltender Peter Budaj. He was given the puck, which will undoubtedly go up in his parents trophy case back home.

"I zoned into the puck off the boards there after the shot from Fernie (Fernando Pisani)," Reddox said. "Then when I got it I tried to roof it. After I scored, I really couldn't control my emotions there with that celebration, but it definitely felt good."

A fifth-round pick of the Oilers - 112th overall - in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Reddox had five goals and four assists in 12 games with the Falcons prior to his callup.

Last year he scored 16 goals and added 28 assists in 65 games with the Falcons. He also got a taste of the NHL, suiting up for one game.

"(Saturday) I felt exactly the same way as I did my first game," Reddox said. "I had a hard time getting rid of the nerves. But with the more ice time I got, the better I felt."

Reddox finished plus-one on the night with over 15 minutes of ice time, which included some penalty-killing duty. He'll be back in the lineup tonight when the Oilers take on the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.

"He played great (Saturday) night," said MacTavish. "I was excited by what I saw. He made plays on the wall, he made the right play with the puck and he really added something.

"Hopefully he can continue that. Bucky (assistant coach Kelly Buchberger) seems to think - knowing him better than I do - that he can."

As is the key for all callups, Reddox has to show he's able to play at the NHL level on a constant basis. He was brought up in the hopes of helping jumpstart the rest of the club.

And although he did score, it took more than just the goal to earn him another game.

"When the puck came around the wall, he didn't need three chances to get it out," MacTavish said. "He made the right play, whether he chipped it out under pressure, whether he controlled it and made a pass.

"It's just those little things positionally, he supported the puck well on the cycle. The play didn't die with him in the offensive zone, he took it to the net when he needed to. He's got good habits and he played a pretty good game."

JUGGLED ROSTER

The Oilers made room for Reddox on the roster by placing defenceman Ladislav Smid on the injured reserve. They made room for Reddox on the ice by benching Kyle Brodziak and Dustin Penner. Brodziak will be back in the lineup tonight in favour of Jesse Boulerice, who played his first game as an Oiler on Saturday.

"It was a big surprise, I didn't think I would be getting called up," Reddox said. "I saw that they had signed Jesse, so I didn't think there was room up there. It was definitely a surprise and I'm just going to try and make the best of this opportunity."

Eventually Reddox will be returned to Springfield. When could be determined by how long MacTavish is willing to keep Penner in the press box.

Regardless, the Oilers rookie is only concerned about his own game.

"I have to try and bring that consistent energy every night," he said. "That's the way I try and play, I try and play hard every night and hopefully I can continue that."

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WHO TO WATCH

Shawn Horcoff, Oil

Took the blame for Saturday night's loss for failing to score on an empty net, losing a key faceoff and missing in the shootout.

Marian Hossa, Wings

New Oilers owner tried to lure winger to Edmonton with buckets of cash, but instead he decided to play for the Red Wings.

COMING IN

Oilers: (8-7-2): Lost 3-2 in shootout at home to the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday.

Red Wings (11-2-3): beat the Florida Panthers 3-2, on the road, Friday.

INJURIES

Oilers: Oilers: RW Steve MacIntyre (face), D Ladislav Smid (concussion).

Red Wings: D Chris Chelios (leg), RW Daniel Cleary (eye).

GAME NOTES: Tonight is the first of four meetings between the clubs this season. They'll face each other again in Edmonton on Thursday. Last season, the Oilers won two of the four encounters in a shootout, while dropping the other two in regulation. Traditionally the Oilers have had some success at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, winning a regular-season game there in each of the last three seasons ... Former Oilers goaltender Ty Conklin is expected to get the start tonight for the Red Wings.


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