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.
“We’re pros,” smiled Peckham. “I’m not usually a morning guy, but I’m going to have to be (Saturday). I’ll probably have to get up a little earlier than normal. Maybe I’ll 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. It’s going to be a challenge.”
Hockey players are usually creatures of habit and the early start time can throw their pre-game routines into disarray.
“I don’t follow a routine, but naturally I do the same things every game day,” Peckham said. “But it’s not something that if something goes wrong in that routine, I’ll 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, you’re 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.”
The Oilers have only played one afternoon game this season and didn’t 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.
Saturday’s 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.
“It’s a little different,” said Oilers winger Ryan Jones. “Nobody expects to be playing at noon. But it’s one of those things that it’s hockey. It doesn’t change no matter what time of day it is. You have to find a way to get yourself ready.”
The biggest challenge for some of the players will be getting a good breakfast in order to sustain them for the afternoon game. It’s often overlooked for evening contests.
“I’m going to have to be a breakfast guy,” Jones said. “Usually I just get up, come to the rink and have a bagel or whatever. I’m going to really have to buckle down and get something good in me.”
The game against the Senators is the first of an all-Canadian triple-header as part of CBC’s 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.
“I’m pretty excited about it,” Peckham said. “My 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 you’re at the other end, so it’s really special.”