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Oilers defenseman Klefbom set for home debut

by Derek Van Diest /

EDMONTON -- Edmonton Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom had an opportunity to dip his toes in the water before taking the plunge in front of the hometown crowd.

Kelfbom made his NHL debut during a recent four-game road trip and will play his first game at Rexall Place on Tuesday against the Nashville Predators.

"It's been a very fun last couple of weeks," Klefbom said. "I haven't played a game here, but hopefully [Tuesday] will be a huge night for me and my career. I'm looking forward to it."

Selected in the first round (No. 19) of the 2011 NHL Draft, expectations are high for Klefbom. He missed the majority of last season with a shoulder injury sustained while playing in Sweden. Klefbom, 20, has spent most of this season with the Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League. He was recalled by the Oilers on an emergency basis March 8 and retained despite Edmonton having six other healthy defensemen available.

"Like any guy getting his feet wet I thought he was nervous and a little anxious in his first game, but since then he's settled down," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "We threw another little loop at him, putting him over on the right side. The way that we're checking in the neutral zone, that comes with a great responsibility because you have to retrieve that puck almost every time.

"I though he adjusted well there and he's off to a good start early in his career."

The Oilers go into their game against the Predators having earned five points on a four-game road trip against the Minnesota Wild, St. Louis Blues, Detroit Red Wings and Carolina Hurricanes. Edmonton is 9-4-3 in its past 16 games and defeated the Predators in its previous two games this season.

"To me they're grown a lot, just from an outsider and a coaching standpoint. They are mindful of the balance they need in their game," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "I think it's been a good job by their staff. They changed their system a little bit and it shows in their record. They're playing pretty good hockey."

The Predators had a three-game win streak snapped by the Blues on Saturday. They're trying to climb back into the race and enter play Monday nine points behind the Phoenix Coyotes for the final Western Conference wild-card spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"We just have to get as many wins as we can, that's all we're worried about," Predators center Craig Smith said. "We're worried about getting a win here. This is tough team to play against and a tough building."

Goaltender Pekka Rinne will start for the Predators. Goalie Viktor Fasth will start for Edmonton.

Here are the lineups for both teams:


Matt Cullen - Mike Fisher - Nick Spaling

Eric Nystrom - Colin Wilson - Craig Smith

Rich Clune - Paul Gaustad - Viktor Stalberg

Patric Hornqvist - Colton Sissons - Gabriel Bourque

Roman Josi - Shea Weber

Michael Del Zotto - Ryan Ellis

Mattias Ekholm - Seth Jones

Pekka Rinne

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Patrick Eaves, Victor Bartley


Taylor Hall - Sam Gagner - David Perron

Nail Yakupov - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle

Matt Hendricks - Boyd Gordon - Anton Lander

Luke Gazdic - Ryan Smyth - Ryan Jones

Martin Marincin - Jeff Petry

Oscar Klefbom - Andrew Ference

Mark Fraser - Justin Schultz

Viktor Fasth

Ben Scrivens

Injured: Anton Belov (oblique), Jesse Joensuu (ankle)

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