SUN Hockey Pool

NHL routine thrown out of whack

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:19 PM ET

NHL hockey players are all about the routine.

Especially on game days.

They come to the rink for the morning skate, go home or back to the hotel for a nap, the return for the game that night.

But today, with the Oilers and Nashville Predators facing off at high noon at Rexall Place, the routine is completely thrown out of whack.

"I think we've been okay in afternoon games; we have a pretty good record in afternoon games," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish.

"Everybody likes a good afternoon game, we would probably like to see more of them.

"You just have to get up early and get on your routine as quickly as possible, get some food in you and start to get back on your routine. Noon is a little bit earlier than what everybody is used to."

The Oilers have played three afternoon games so far this season, winning all of them. They have four more afternoon dates on the schedule.

Edmonton beat the Carolina Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers in back-to-back afternoon contests on the road, and also won in St. Louis.

Today marks the lone afternoon game at Rexall Place this season.

"I always find that afternoon contests can be a little sleepy at the start," MacTavish said. "So you have to guard against that. And if you are ready, you can get an advantage at times."

All three games on today's NHL schedule are afternoon affairs, in order not to clash with the NFL's Super Bowl.

The last time the Predators were in town, Jordin Tootoo took a run at Ales Hemsky, eventually knocking him out of the Oilers lineup for 10 games with a concussion.

Tootoo was injured in a fight against Todd Bertuzzi in Calgary against the Flames on Friday and it's not clear whether he'll be available today.

"The focus point is on winning the game," MacTavish said.

"We're not going to get distracted with retribution. We just want to go about our business and win the hockey game."


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