EDMONTON — It was business as usual for Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Smyth on Saturday morning as he prepared for his final NHL game.
Smyth announced Friday he would be retiring at the end of the Oilers' season, which ends Saturday night against the Vancouver Canucks.
"I'm just going to try and keep the emotions in check and try to take it all in," Smyth said. "Everything was normal [Saturday morning] as far as taking part in the drills and stuff, but you look up at the rafters and you see all the banners of the Cups and the banners of the guys who have retired, so it's pretty special.
"It's a great building to play in and I'm really looking forward to [Saturday night]."
Selected sixth by the Oilers in the 1994 NHL Draft, Smyth has spent 15 of his 19 NHL season in Edmonton.
He requested a trade back to Edmonton in 2011 after spending two seasons with the Los Angeles Kings. Prior to that, Smyth spent two seasons with the Colorado Avalanche and had a short spell with the New York Islanders.
"It's always interesting when a guy has such an amazing career and there is sadness, when it should be the other way around," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "To play that long and to last that long and to have the career that he's had, it should be a joyous occasion."
The 38-year-old goes into the game against the Canucks looking for a power-play goal, which would give him sole possession of the Oilers record. He's tied with Glenn Anderson with 126 power-play goals for Edmonton.
"I'd like for him to get that goal," Eakins said. "But you have to approach the game like you would approach every game. That's the way we'll do it. We may boot him in the butt and have him stay out a little longer on that power play instead of changing right away, but other than that, it's going to be business as usual."
Smyth admits Saturday will be an emotional night for him and his family; the Oilers plan a special tribute to their longest-serving player.
"Those are the times where you have to dig deep and try to breathe through it and relish this great opportunity I've had for 18-plus years," Smyth said. "You try to stick within the game plan. I'm just excited to get to game time."
While Smyth will be playing his final game, Canucks left wing Michael Zalewski will be playing his first. The Canucks signed Zalewski on March 14 after playing college hockey with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
"I'm excited and a little nervous," Zalewski said. "This is what you dream of, getting the opportunity to play in the NHL. I'm really looking forward to it."
Goaltender Ben Scrivens will start for the Oilers; Jacob Markstrom will start for the Canucks.
Here are the projected lineups:
Taylor Hall – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
Ryan Smyth – Anton Lander – David Perron
Tyler Pitlick – Will Acton – Philip Larsen
Matt Hendricks – Roman Horak – Steven Pinizzotto
Martin Marincin – Jeff Petry
Oscar Klefbom – Justin Schultz
Mark Fraser – Anton Belov
Injured: Jesse Joensuu (ankle), Luke Gazdic (shoulder), Andrew Ference (chest), Ryan Jones (knee), Nail Yakupov, (shoulder), Boyd Gordon (shoulder), Sam Gagner (ankle)
Daniel Sedin – Henrik Sedin – Nicklas Jensen
Alexandre Burrows – Ryan Kesler – David Booth
Shawn Matthias – Brad Richardson – Zack Kassian
Michael Zalewski – Jordan Schroeder – Jannik Hansen
Alexander Edler – Jason Garrison
Dan Hamhuis – Yannick Weber
Ryan Stanton – Frank Corrado
Scratched: Kevin Bieksa, Zac Dalpe, Tom Sestito
Injured: Christopher Tanev (finger), Mike Santorelli (shoulder), Andrew Alberts (concussion).