SUN Hockey Pool

Whitney eager to roll

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:16 AM ET

EDMONTON - Ryan Whitney, having playing just 17 games in the previous 12 months, figures it’s better to limp than to sit.

So he’s giving his sore ankle another test drive.

“I feel OK,” said the dust-gathering defenceman, who’s been out of the picture since surgery in the middle of last season. “It’s obviously not where I hoped it would be but at some point you just have to give it a go. I’m just excited to start playing again no matter what.”

Playing for how long remains to be seen. He doesn’t know if it will last the rest of the season, but has grown tired of waiting.

“The ankle is weak so it falls in and causes a little pain,” said Whitney, who took a regular shift on the point. “There are some things I go to do that don’t necessarily happen as well as I’d like, some explosiveness in my right foot, but you can work around it.

“Everyone says wait till you’re 100%, I keep hearing that, but I don’t know if it will ever be 100% again. You just have to deal with what you have. I can still be an NHL defenceman at 80%, or whatever I am, that’s a kind of positive I take out of it.

“I wish I felt a little better but at the same time I’m just thrilled to be playing again.”

ON THE MOVE

Last time Teemu Hartikainen got called up from the minors, he wound up playing four games in four nights - two in Oklahoma City and two in Edmonton.

The schedule is easier this time, but not by much. He played Thursday, Friday and Saturday in the AHL, flew here on Sunday, played San Jose on Monday, flew to Vancouver and played the Canucks on Tuesday.

Still has a spring in his step, though.

“We had a good weekend (in Oklahoma), we won three games in a row,” he grinned. “So I feel good mentally and physically.

“I’m just trying to bring a winning attitude, bring my best to the table, help the team win.”

CHANGE IS BAD

Lennart Petrell is a grinder’s grinder - he earns his living blocking shots and fighting puck battles along the boards.

There are easier ways to make a living, but he has no plans to depart from his smashmouth style.

“I’m not going to change the way I play,” he said. “Believe me I’ve tried and it doesn’t work.”

If a scoring chance is there, however...

“If you’re playing fourth line, nobody ever tells you NOT to score goals.”

HE’S BEEN EVERYWHERE, MAN

When Taylor Chorney is told to go somewhere, he never assumes he’ll actually get there.

When the Oilers told him to report to Oklahoma City in October, he got intercepted by the Blues and wound up in St. Louis. When St. Louis sent him to their minor league team, he got intercepted by the Oilers again and re-routed to Oklahoma.

“Nothing that will happen this year is going to surprise me anymore,” said the 24 year old defenceman, upon being recalled by the Oilers. “Its kind of been a crazy half to the season on so many different levels.”

The bright side of it all is the atmosphere in Oklahoma City.

“It’s been fun,” he said. “We’ve been rolling. We have a good team down there, its been fun, just playing and winning games. Its a good way to be working in your game.”

The moment in the sun lasted one game. Whitney’s return meant a move to the press box, and likely OKC as Edmonton shuts it down for the All-Star break.

“The most important thing to do is take it one game at a time,” he said. “You just never really know what’s going to happen, so you just take it one game at a time and make the most of every opportunity that you get. That’s all you can do.”

STOP LOSS

Devan Dubnyk can be lights out one night, then one-too-many red lights the next.

He has the size and skill to be a starter in the NHL, he just has to clear the last and toughest hurdle - consistency.

“It’s certainly something that you have to learn through experience,” he said. “Each game is a new one, regardless of whether the game before was a good game or a bad game.

“If you get a 60-save shutout one night and let in seven goals on 10 shots the next game, nobody cares about your shutout anymore. Its the same after a bad game. Its one of the most important things you have to learn at this level.”

PLAYIN' AGAIN, SAMI

Concussed Vancouver defenceman Sami Salo, who missed six games to the clip that earned Boston’s Brad Marchand a five-game suspension, made a welcome return on Tuesday.

“When he’s in our lineup, our record is much more on the positive side than the negative side,” said head coach Alain Vigneault. “That has something to do with him being able to contribute both offensively and defensively. He’s such a smart player both with and without the puck.”

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca

@SUN_TYCHKOWSKI


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