Lander looks to lend Oilers a hand

Oilers foirward Anton Lander skates during the warmup before playing against the Flames at the...

Oilers foirward Anton Lander skates during the warmup before playing against the Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alta., Oct. 20, 2011. (AL CHAREST/QMI Agency)

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:09 PM ET

EDMONTON - Anton Lander is ready to get back in the lineup.

The Edmonton Oilers centre has missed the last three games with a hand infection, suffered after being cut by the skate of Boston Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara.

“After I was cut, I got three stitches on it,” Lander said. “It was good for two weeks and then it started to swell up the morning of our game against Nashville.

“I was thinking I could still play and wanted to see if got better or worse after. Unfortunately it got a lot worse. It’s been a tough time, but hopefully, it’s OK now.”

A healthy dose of antibiotics helped cure the infection. Lander is expected to be back in the lineup Wednesday when the Oilers play host to the Carolina Hurricanes. He was back on the ice practising with the club on Monday.

“I felt good out there. I was able to take shots, some one-timers and things like that,” Lander said. “There was a lot of battling in practice today, a lot of contact. It was good.”

In order to make room for Lander on the roster, the Oilers sent Ryan O’Marra back to their AHL affiliate in Oklahoma City.

O’Marra, 24, suited up in three games for the Oilers, picking up an assist Saturday in a loss to the Calgary Flames.

Lander, meanwhile, has a goal and an assist in 23 games with the Oilers this season. The team’s second-round pick — 40th overall — in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft is carving a niche for himself on the fourth line, proving to be a valuable commodity in the face-off circle and his own end.

“There’s still a learning curve for him,” said Oilers head coach Tom Renney. “He’s obviously one of those guys that catches on quick, he comes in with a pretty high hockey IQ to start with so that certainly helps.

“In terms of figuring out the NHL game and opponents in the various circumstances he’s in, he’s certainly a quick study. His work habits are very good and he’s one of those kids that asks the right questions that helps clarify things for his teammates and himself, and you see an ability to play under most circumstances because of that.”

Lander, 20, has been very reliable for the Oilers on the defensive side of the puck this season. It’s something the native of Sundsvall, Sweden takes pride in.

“It’s a huge thing in hockey, you have to be able to play defence,” Lander said. “That’s where you start your game, then when you make your defence complete, you can go for offence.

“I’m not a really high-skilled player, I have to go out there and work hard. I know I have some offensive skills in me, too, I proved that last year in Sweden, but right now with my role on the fourth line and on the penalty kill, I have to focus on the things they want me to do and do it right.”

Lander joined the Oilers this season, having spent the previous three years with Timra of the Swedish Elite League. He scored 11 goals and added 15 assists in 49 games for his Swedish club last season.

Having come over the pond this summer, Lander is still navigating his way through the nuances of the NHL.

“Every day is a new day and anything can happen,” he said. “But when you see the guys every day, they make you feel comfortable. We have a great group of guys in here, they really take care of us young guys and that’s a huge thing, and I really appreciate that.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/SUNdvandiest


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