Happy holidays

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:49 AM ET

In reality, not a lot of people would have expected Liam Reddox to still be with the Edmonton Oilers at the Christmas break.

That includes Reddox himself.

Yet the five-foot-11, 180-pound winger has carved out a niche with the Oilers and is therefore still around while others like Tim Sestito, Gilbert Brule and Rob Schremp have all come and gone.

"It's been a very exciting time for me," Reddox said. "When I got called up, I thought I would be just a wake-up call for some guys and I thought I would go right back down.

"But I'm just trying to do the right things on the ice and trying to be a reliable hockey player. I love the fact that I'm here over Christmas and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I'm extremely happy."

Reddox, 22, has a goal and an assist in 13 games with the Oilers since being called up from the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League. In 12 games with the Falcons, Reddox had five goals and four assists.

"I definitely have a lot more confidence being in the room and out on the ice," Reddox said. "It's been pretty easy with the guys here, they've really taken me and helped me out along the way. That's been a huge help.

"Just getting to practice with the guys and being around them every day has definitely made it a lot more comfortable."

The Oilers' fifth choice - 112 overall - in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Reddox was originally called up to inject energy into the Oilers lineup.

He scored a goal in his first game and has proven to be extremely reliable in his own zone. Reddox has also been useful as an effective penalty killer.

Essentially he's filling the role Marty Reasoner took on last season and Toby Petersen had the year before - a versatile forward who's not a liability in his own end.

"In order to stay here, I'm going to have to play a solid game along the boards, get the pucks out of the zone at our blue line and into the zone at their blue line," Reddox said. "I have to bring in some energy, make sure I finish my checks. I think that's the big key."

In the Oilers 4-2 win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday, Reddox played on a unit with Sam Gagner and Erik Cole, taking the place of Robert Nilsson, who was relegated to the press box.

Tonight in Vancouver, Reddox should be back in the lineup if Ethan Moreau is unable to play after taking a puck off his wrist blocking a shot.

"I'm still nervous for every game," Reddox said. "I know I can't be turning pucks over otherwise I'll be on the first plane back to Springfield. It's definitely always in the back of your mind, but I can't really dwell on it. What will be, will be, I just have to try and work hard to try and stay here."

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WHO TO WATCH

Ales Hemsky, EDM

Leads the team in scoring, having gone only eight games this season without registering at least a point.

Daniel Sedin, VCR

Has seven points in his last five games, leading the Canucks in scoring this season.

COMING IN

Oilers: 15-14-3, beat Phoenix Coyotes 4-2 at home on Monday.

Canucks: 19-13-3, lost 5-0 to the Sharks in San Jose on Tuesday.

HURT PARADE

Oilers: LW Steve MacIntyre (face), RW Fernando Pisani (ankle).

Canucks: D Sami Salo (ribs), C Ryan Johnson (foot), C Rick Rypien (hernia), G Roberto Luongo (groin).

NOTES

This is the fourth of six meetings between the two teams this season, the third and final one at GM Place. The Oilers have lost the previous two games in Vancouver, dropping a 6-3 decision in October and losing 4-2 last Wednesday ... Oilers captain Ethan Moreau will have his wrist re-evaluated today. An MRI on Tuesday revealed no broken bones in the captain's hand after getting hit with the puck while blocking a shot in Monday's win over the Coyotes. Moreau has been in the lineup for every game this season up to this point. If Moreau is unable to play, Robert Nilsson will draw back into the lineup. ... Mats Sundin will not be in the lineup tonight. The Canucks free agent acquisition is expected to arrive in Vancouver tomorrow and should be in the lineup early in the new year.


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