SUN Hockey Pool

Rourke filling the bill

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

LOS ANGELES -- Allan Rourke has done everything asked of him by the Edmonton Oilers since his call-up from Springfield.

And by being in the lineup again last night, the 27-year-old defenceman now has to clear waivers in order to be sent back down to the minors.

It's something which may not happen, considering the admirable way Rourke has filled in during the Oilers injury epidemic on the blue-line.

"You think of that, but we need him now," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "We're not in a position where we can anticipate guys getting back and even the guys coming back are going to be hard pressed to push him out of the lineup right now. So the way he's playing, we have to keep him in there."

Rourke was acquired from the New York Islanders this summer along with a third-round pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft for a second-round pick in the same draft.

CAREER MINOR LEAGUER

The Oilers needed the third-round pick in order to sign Dustin Penner to an offer sheet.

In Rourke, the Oilers got essentially a career minor leaguer with 42 games of NHL experience in four seasons.

Originally drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Rourke was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes where he played 25 games through the 2003-2004 campaign.

From Carolina he moved to the Islanders organization where he spent most of his time with Bridgeport.

"I like having that style of defenceman in our lineup where he's not affected by playing a few minutes," MacTavish said. "He plays 10-12 minutes a game and he's been so far, so good.

"I haven't seen any situation he's not capable of handling so far. We had Scott Ferguson here before that played a similar style of hockey. I'm not sure that Allan's not a step up from Scott, but the thing about Allan is that he has a real head for the game."

Rourke was called up from Springfield on Nov. 10th after Sheldon Souray, Joni Pitkanen, Matt Greene, and Mathieu Roy went down with injuries.

At first the Oilers had called up Bryan Young to help fill the void, but when he didn't work out, Rourke was given his opportunity.

"I feel good, but the most important thing is that the team is playing well," Rourke said. "We'll have guys coming back and I don't know what's going to happen. I have to focus on what I can control, that's if I'm playing, I have to do my job out there. That's all on my mind right now."

Rourke has yet to register a point with the Oilers, but he was not brought up for his offence. He has one career NHL goal, scored during his time with the Hurricanes.

Defensively, however, Rourke is averaging over 11 minutes a night, and going into last night against the Los Angeles Kings, was plus-one.

PLAY SMART

"I know I'm not a top-four defenceman," Rourke said. "I have to play a role where I have to be solid defensively, especially on the road where (Sunday) night in Anaheim we got caught out there against their top line - guys like (Ryan) Getzlaf. When I'm out there against those guys I have to be smart about it.

"I have to stay positionally sound. I'm not the quickest guy around, but as long as I stay around the house and protect the house, and get the puck out we should be allright."

With Souray on the verge of returning from a shoulder injury, Roy's conditioning stint in Springfield nearly over and Tarnstrom recovering from a concussion, Rourke knows his time on the Oilers blue-line is limited.

But it's something he's not worrying about at the moment.

"I know why I'm here, because of injuries, I know I could be going back (to the minors) any day," he said. "I'm just trying to stay positive, not think about that stuff.

"There's not much I can do about it, all I can do is play hockey. If I get sent back, then I get sent back. It's out of my mind, if it happens, it happens."


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