SUN Hockey Pool

Theo's time to shine with Oilers

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:27 AM ET

Theo Peckham didn’t make much of a first impression with the Edmonton Oilers coaching staff this season.

But his second one has been impressive.

“The first time I came here, I was just getting back from an ankle injury, I think I had only played three or four games in the AHL,” said Peckham.

“Coming off the injury that I had, conditioning was going to be an issue. I didn’t have enough time to get my feet under me. At the same time, I really can’t use that as an excuse, I should have been ready. But I’ve been given a second chance and I want to take advantage of it.”

In his second stint with the club, Peckham has provided the Oilers with a level of physical play on the blue-line that has been lacking for most of the season. He’s big, strong, intimidating and not afraid to stand up for his teammates.

“I know that’s why I’m here,” he said. “That’s something I was told was missing on the back end and it’s something I consider myself to be pretty good at, so that’s what I’m going to continue to do.”

On the Oilers’ recent homestand, Peckham was a force physically.

He was named the game’s third star against the Minnesota Wild despite not picking up a point in the contest. His enthusiasm and approach to the game has injected the Oilers with some life, despite the fact they’re last in the NHL standings.

“It’s not even close,” said Oilers head coach Pat Quinn, of Peckham’s two stints. “He was facing some things, he missed all of training camp and even in the minor leagues he wasn’t back in game condition and when he came here, it really showed up. He was slow doing things. His foot speed is not bad, but not very many positive things happened for him in that first stretch that he was here. He couldn’t get to be a physical player, which was supposed to be one of his assets.

“This time he’s much more confident and he’s making a lot less mistakes in the games he’s played. Hopefully that continues. I like what I see now.”

The challenge for Peckham is to be able to walk that fine line between playing physically and staying out of the penalty box. It’s a line he has straddled on occasion.

“I want to show them that I can play on that physical side without crossing the line,” he said. “We’re all playing for spots next year here and I want to show them that I can be a full-time guy here and if I’m always crossing the line, that’s not going to help.”

In Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators, Peckham did well to toe the line. He had a running battle with Jarkko Ruutu throughout the contest and toward the end of the game was run into the end boards by the Senators agitator on an icing call. Peckham challenged Ruutu to a fight, which was turned down, annoying Quinn.

“Guys like that are tantalizers, they’re not going to fight,” he said. “They can get away with crap all the time and they never have to pay a price, unless you can get them cornered somehow, but usually rats are tough to corner.”


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