SUN Hockey Pool

Kids get playtime

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:00 AM ET

DETROIT -- As it turns out, these kids are all right.

At least they have been during their recent tour of duty.

Marc Pouliot, J.F. Jacques, Zack Stortini, Mathieu Roy and Patrick Thoresen were all front and centre in the victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday.

With the exception of Stortini, they were back in the mix last night against the Detroit Red Wings.

"They're playing well," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish prior to last night's encounter. "I was pretty happy with the way they played (Thursday) night."

Prior to assigning Stortini to the minors yesterday to make room on the roster for Fernando Pisani, the Oilers had seven players on the roster had played in the minors at one point during the season - not including Petr Nedved's brief stint prior to signing with the Oilers.

They've all been called up at different intervals during the year to fill in due to the recent rash of injuries, and on Thursday they were all in the lineup.

"I think there's a comfort level that they get when we have a bunch of young guys like we have right now," MacTavish said.

"You could see it (Thursday) when (Ole-Kristian) Tollefsen was challenging Pouliot. He wasn't backing off, but J.F. was quick to go to the defence of his AHL teammate and now NHL teammate."

Against the Blue Jackets, Jacques went after Tollefsen in Pouliot's defence. Roy jumped Jody Shelley after his big hit on Tom Gilbert. Thoresen got mixed up with Rick Nash. And Stortini laid out Bryan Berard.

"It was a fun game," Jacques said.

"It was the kind of game we have to play. Tollefsen was taking runs at Hemsky all night, and he challenged Pouliot to fight. When guys are taking runs at our key players like that, it's my job to answer the bell and get physical."

Roy's play has kept Matt Greene from getting back in the lineup.

Yesterday Roy played his third consecutive game suiting up against the Red Wings.

He was partnered with Daniel Tjarnqvist who returned from a groin injury.

"I'm starting to feel more comfortable," he said. "But I'm still trying to keep my nervousness down and trying not to make a mistake that will cost me my spot in the third-pairing on defence for the next game."

Roy scored big points with his teammates for coming to the aid of Gilbert and taking on a proven tough guy in Shelley.

"I have to stand up for my teammates," Roy said. "I didn't see the hit because I was in the corner. But as soon as I turned around I saw him laying there and I saw Shelley right beside him and it was a matter of having to do it."

Pouliot's worked his way up to the second line and is a good bet to stay in Edmonton for the rest of the season.

"Pouliot almost played his way on to the roster right at training camp and the way that he played," MacTavish said.

"I've been surprised in a lot of facets of his game. I think my expectations were lower than they should have been."


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