Oilers' French connection

Edmonton Oilers' J.F. Jacques, seen getting in the face of Montreal Canadiens' Mike Komisarek in a...

Edmonton Oilers' J.F. Jacques, seen getting in the face of Montreal Canadiens' Mike Komisarek in a recent game, is starting to become the intimidating presence the team needs. (Sun Media File/Olivier Jean)

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:18 AM ET

PHOENIX -- Brad Winchester doesn't speak French.

Yet playing on a line with Marc-Antoine Pouliot and Jean-Francois Jacques, it might be in Winchester's best interest to learn a phrase or two.

"It's a little different," admitted Winchester. "But there is no language barrier. I actually played with Pouliot quite a bit last year in Hamilton. We have an understanding and certainly getting back to the bench and talking about things helps us lots."

NO LANGUAGE BARRIER

The reason there's no language barrier is because Pouliot and Jacques both speak English.

However, at times in the heat of the battle, the two will resort back to their native tongue.

"For the most part, we're out there speaking English," Pouliot said.

"J.F. and I, we do speak French with each other sometimes, but we do speak English, too."

On Tuesday, Pouliot, Jacques and Winchester made up the Edmonton Oilers fourth line.

And while their ice-time was limited in the third period, the two Francophones and Wisconsin native played well enough to warrant another go together tonight against the Phoenix Coyotes.

"They did what they needed to do as a fourth line," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "I thought J.F. skated well and Brad did what he needed to do physically, and Pouliot's been good since he's been up here."

And it's a physical presence MacTavish is looking for from his fourth line.

At six-foot-five, 215 pounds and six-foot-four, 217 pounds, respectively, the Oilers need Winchester and Jacques to pound opponents.

That message was hammered home to Winchester when he was made a healthy scratch in the two games prior to Tuesday's contest.

Jacques was in danger of being pulled out of the lineup as well for the same reason.

"Being physical is at the top of the list of things we want to accomplish," Winchester said. "We're just trying to get the puck in and make plays. It's important to have a good physical presence and get in hard on the forecheck.

"I think all three of us want to get in on the forecheck and try to create things down low."

On Tuesday against the Colorado Avalanche, the unit did just that for the most part early on.

Jacques finished the night registering five hits on the score sheet - the highest on the team.

Winchester came close to scoring, but had his shot from the slot turned away by Avs goaltender Peter Budaj. Later he dropped the gloves against Ian Laperriere.

"I thought J.F., given the amount of time he played, was physical," MacTavish said. "Brad was physical - he got in a fight - so I was happy with the forwards and the combinations."

However as goals became of paramount importance and the Oilers found themselves down two going into the third period, the fourth line watched the majority of the frame from the bench.

"That's something we expect going in so it's not a surprise," Pouliot said.

"You want to play as much as you can, and we only got one shift in the third period. But the other three lines were playing well and you just have to play the best you can when you get out there."

LINE FINISHED EVEN

After the 13 goals were tallied up in the Oilers' 7-6 loss to the Avs, the fourth line finished even.

"It was a good beginning. I hope things go better the next couple of games," Pouliot said. "I think it's a good fourth line. We just have to try and get better and prove that we're a good line."


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