EDMONTON - Theo Peckham is not much of a morning person.
However, with a noon puck drop Saturday against the Ottawa Senators, the Edmonton Oilers defenceman is going to have to be wide eyed a little earlier than usual.
ďWeíre pros,Ē smiled Peckham. ďIím not usually a morning guy, but Iím going to have to be (Saturday). Iíll probably have to get up a little earlier than normal. Maybe Iíll wake up around 6 a.m., and try to get a nap in at around 8 a.m., try to treat it like a normal day. Itís going to be a challenge.Ē
Hockey players are usually creatures of habit and the early start time can throw their pre-game routines into disarray.
ďI donít follow a routine, but naturally I do the same things every game day,Ē Peckham said. ďBut itís not something that if something goes wrong in that routine, Iíll be fazed by it. Something is going to go wrong from time to time, and if you let something little affect your head and where you are mentally, youíre not going to put yourself in the best position to perform. So all the little things I used to do in junior, I kind of got away from when I became a pro.Ē
The Oilers have only played one afternoon game this season and didnít wake up for that one until Sean Avery of the New York Rangers sucker-punched Ladislav Smid at the tail end of an 8-2 loss.
Saturdayís game is the first of two afternoon games at Rexall Place this year. Next week, the Oilers host the Atlanta Thrashers in an afternoon contest.
ďItís a little different,Ē said Oilers winger Ryan Jones. ďNobody expects to be playing at noon. But itís one of those things that itís hockey. It doesnít change no matter what time of day it is. You have to find a way to get yourself ready.Ē
The biggest challenge for some of the players will be getting a good breakfast in order to sustain them for the afternoon game. Itís often overlooked for evening contests.
ďIím going to have to be a breakfast guy,Ē Jones said. ďUsually I just get up, come to the rink and have a bagel or whatever. Iím going to really have to buckle down and get something good in me.Ē
The game against the Senators is the first of an all-Canadian triple-header as part of CBCís Hockey Day in Canada.
The Montreal Canadiens host the Toronto Maple Leafs in the second game, while the Vancouver Canucks take on the Calgary Flames in the nightcap.
Traditionally, the Oilers have not fared well in the annual showcase, posting a 2-6-2 record.
ďIím pretty excited about it,Ē Peckham said. ďMy first Saturday night game at Rexall was on Hockey Day in Canada. I fought Chris Stewart that night. It was a pretty special moment and I remember it well. You grow up watching Hockey Day in Canada, and you wonder one day whether you can be there. Now youíre at the other end, so itís really special.Ē