SUN Hockey Pool

You're never too Young

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:49 AM ET

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- Call it baptism by fire for Bryan Young.

Still trying to get accustomed to life in the AHL, the 20-year-old defenceman is about to face the high-powered Anaheim Ducks tonight in his first ever NHL game.

"It is definitely going to be weird being on the same ice as some of those guys," said Young of facing Teemu Selanne, Scott Niedermayer and the rest of the Ducks.

"I'm probably more excited right now but I am sure as it gets closer to the game ... the nerves will probably kick in some more."

The ridiculous injury situation has forced the Edmonton Oilers to call up Young from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

With Tom Gilbert (concussion), Mathieu Roy (concussion), Steve Staios (knee, hurt Wednesday) and Jan Hejda (shoulder, hurt Wednesday) on the shelf, the Oilers are now down to bare bones.

LACK OF EXPERIENCE

Jason Smith, Ladislav Smid and Matt Greene are the only regulars left standing.

The rest of the defensive unit tonight will consist of Young, recent call-up Danny Syvret and regular forward Toby Petersen.

"The (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton) coach called me up to the front of the bus coming from Norfolk (Wednesday) night," said Young on how he found out about the promotion.

But Craig MacTavish - his new head coach - doesn't know much about his latest airlifted recruit.

"Haven't heard a lot about him," admitted MacTavish during the flight to California yesterday afternoon.

"He really hasn't been on our radar in terms of a guy that we (were) going to bring up.

"He is a big, strong kid who is very green.

"I am sure he is going to be pretty nervous and very excited."

Not surprisingly, MacTavish doesn't know how much he's going to play Young.

For that matter, he doesn't know who is going to form the top blue-line pair against Selanne's line.

But don't expect any offensive flare from Young.

In his first professional year, he has yet to score a goal in 47 games while bouncing between Milwaukee (AHL), Stockton (ECHL) and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL).

NOT A SCORER

In 186 OHL games with the Peterborough Petes, he only scored once.

"I like to keep it pretty simple and just try to play a physical game as much as I can," said the six-foot-one, 190 pound fifth-round draft choice from 2004.

Facing a daunting task this weekend - with three games in four nights on this California road trip - Young is at least grateful he'll see some familiar faces in the Oilers' dressing room from his trips through training camp and Edmonton's minor-league system.

"It calms your nerves maybe having a few familiar faces around the dressing room and stuff," he remarked from a hotel in Delaware before beginning his long journey to Los Angeles yesterday to join his new teammates.

"That can only help."

FINISH LINES: Young will wear No. 76, the same number he wore in training camp last fall ... Due to several factors - including the complexity of the CBA regarding call-ups - Young is the only new recruit on this trip.

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WHO TO WATCH

JASON SMITH, OILERS

Played nearly 28 minutes Wednesday and will anchor a depleted defence corps.

TEEMU SELANNE, DUCKS

One goal shy of 40, he leads the Western Conference in goal scoring.

GAME NOTES

Decimated by injuries, the Oilers only have 12 road wins. Five teams have fewer road victories ... The Oilers catch one break: Chris Pronger is on the shelf with a broken left big toe. In a freak mishap, he broke the toe in a workout last weekend when his left foot slipped off a bench and he kicked the floor. Pronger is expected to be out at least two weeks ... The Oilers and Ducks are heading in opposite directions. Edmonton has lost five straight since losing Ryan Smyth. The Ducks have points in 10 of their last 11 games... With 40 victories, Anaheim leads the Pacific Division with 91 points. Joffrey Lupul has 15 goals in 67 games this season. At this point last year, he had 24 tallies for the Ducks.

HURT PARADE

OILERS: LW Ethan Moreau (shoulder), D Tom Gilbert (concussion), D Mathieu Roy (concussion), RW Ales Hemsky (collarbone), C Marty Reasoner (shoulder), D Daniel Tjarnqvist (groin), C Jarret Stoll (concussion), C Peter Nedved (knee), D Jan Hejda (shoulder), D Steve Staios (knee)

DUCKS: D Chris Pronger (toe), C Todd Marchant (abdominal)


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