Waiting game

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:35 AM ET

Marc-Antoine Pouliot expected to make his NHL debut last Saturday.

The Edmonton Oilers top pick (22nd overall) in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft was told he would.

But Ethan Moreau wasn't ready to take a day off despite a sore ankle.

So Pouliot, 20, had to wait.

"If all the veterans are playing it's good for the team," Pouliot said. "The coach thought Moreau couldn't play, but he said he could. Those things happen. I'm not disappointed, but I thought I was going to play."

Now, due to a sore hip-flexor, Radek Dvorak won't be able to go tonight when the Oilers travel to Vancouver to face the Canucks. Pouliot is in the queue to replace Dvorak in the lineup. So is Rem Murray.

'A BIG FACTOR'

"Rem's got experience, that's a big factor," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "Pouliot will bring energy. Maybe it's time for him to get a game, or maybe it's time for Rem to get another game and another look in that position. But we'll make that decision (today)."

With that, both players are preparing in case they get the tap on the shoulder to come down from the press box.

"I don't wish any player to be injured, but if I get a chance to get on the ice, I'll be excited for sure," said Pouliot, who was recalled from the AHL on March 13. "I didn't have any expectations when I came up here. I'll do what they tell me. I want to play, everybody wants to play, but I'm not disappointed, I'm very happy to be here."

Murray was signed by the Oilers as a free agent on March 5. In his second stint with the Oilers, Murray suited up for four games without collecting a point. "Obviously injuries are going to happen down the stretch and in the playoffs, so it's one of those things you have to be ready for if called upon," Murray said. "You have to do the work on the ice and in the gym and hopefully be ready to play.

HAPPY TO BE HERE

"It's not easy mentally, but you have to put yourself in the frame of mind that you are going to play every game. I think that if you are in that mind set it should be no problem."

Much like Pouliot, Murray is just happy to be playing in the NHL. The 33-year-old's career appeared to be over after a nerve disorder in his neck forced him to miss the final 43 games of the 2003-04 season. He joined the Oilers earlier this month after scoring 11-24-35 in 54 games with the Houston Aeros of the AHL.

"The first few games were tough just because getting back up to the pace of play was a little difficult, but having those games under my belt is certainly going to help," Murray said. "I'm certainly happy that I'm here, but certainly not satisfied by any means just to be here. But I feel good about the position I'm in and hopefully I can contribute down the stretch."


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