SUN Hockey Pool

D-man takes it up a notch

Nashville Predators left winger Martin Erat falls to the ice as Edmonton Oilers defenceman Jim...

Nashville Predators left winger Martin Erat falls to the ice as Edmonton Oilers defenceman Jim Vandermeer dives for the puck during the third period of their NHL hockey game in Nashville on Monday. (M. J. Masotti Jr. , Reuters)

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:28 AM ET

EDMONTON - He was gritty, tough to play against and scrappy.

Thats the Jim Vandermeer the Edmonton Oilers were expected to get when they acquired the veteran defenceman this off-season.

He arguably played his best hockey of the season during the teams three-game road trip, which concluded with a 4-0 win over the Nashville Predators on Monday.

I think having that much time off (ankle injury), you can review your game a little bit and kind of get back to what I should have been doing the whole year, Vandermeer said.

If you look at the way things went, I took more penalties than I would have liked, but you try to find that line and push the limit, and sometimes youre right up against it.

Im just trying to find the edge, trying to play real aggressive without taking too many penalties.

Vandermeer, 30, had a pair of fights and finished with a plus-two rating in the win over the Predators.

He has a goal and six assists in 33 games this season, having missed a portion of the year with an ankle injury.

I think I just have to keep pushing as much as I can, Vandermeer said. I have to stay aggressive and hopefully get on a roll.

Brule feeling better

Gilbert Brule was back on the ice Tuesday, working with skating and skills coach Steve Serdachny while the rest of the club had an off-ice workout.

The Oilers centre has been out of the lineup since the first week of January with an ankle injury and then the flu.

Hes not ready to get back into the lineup, although hes expected to start practising with the team possibly this week.

It seems like I have been rehabbing forever, but Ive had one thing after the other with the ankle injury and the flu, Brule said.

I think the flu has passed and now Im just trying to get my conditioning up. I havent skated for week because of it.

Brule, 24, had six goals and two assists in 34 games for the Oilers before spraining his ankle.

He was set to return following the All-Star break when he was hit hard by the flu bug. He had similar problems with the virus last season.

I think next year Im going to get my flu shot, because I usually dont believe in them, Brule said. But every year I seem to get the flu, so Im probably going to get one next year for sure.

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca


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