Worth the wait

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:16 AM ET

Having already waited two weeks and survived one false start, Edmonton Oilers rookie Marc-Antoine Pouliot sounded almost nonchalant about his NHL debut against the Los Angeles Kings last night.

At least the lanky centre from Quebec City put on a good front -- what kid hasn't been a bundle of nerves before stepping on the ice for his first NHL shift?

"I've been looking forward to playing the first game," said Pouliot, who was pencilled in on a line with Ethan Moreau and Fernando Pisani. "Now that it's happening, it's been two weeks. I'm pretty excited."

Pouliot, 20, got word he'd be playing from coach Craig MacTavish at the morning skate. With Georges Laraque out with a hip flexor and MacTavish looking to add some jump to his forward lines, Pouliot got the tap.

"For sure, it's an important game, but I don't want to put pressure (on myself)," Pouliot said. "When you put pressure (on yourself), that's when you make some mistakes. I'll just play my game.

"I've enjoyed my time and improved my hockey skills by practising every day for two weeks. It's helped me a lot."

Recalled from Hamilton of the AHL March 13, the Rimouski Oceanic grad was set to make his debut March 18 against the Detroit Red Wings, but Moreau, nursing a badly sprained ankle, nixed that idea when he insisted on playing.

"It was just miscommunication," Pouliot said of the false alarm against the Red Wings. "It doesn't matter."


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