EDMONTON — Marc Pouliot has played more hockey in the past week than he has all season.
The Oilers forward made his season debut Monday in a 6-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche.
However, prior to that, the Oilers’ former first-round pick (22nd overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft) had suited up in four games for the Springfield Falcons on a conditioning stint.
“I ended up playing five games in six nights,” Pouliot said, prior to Wednesday’s contest against the Vancouver Canucks. “It is a lot, but it’s a great test for me and if I’m able to get through this, then I think I’m pretty much able to get through anything.
“I’m a little tired now, but my focus is there, so it’s good.”
Expected to play on one of the Oilers’ top three lines this season, Pouliot was sidelined with a sports hernia, which cost him the first 47 games of the year.
He tried to come back in December, but had a setback, forcing him to wait an extra month.
“I feel good, the abdominal has been great, it gets stiff every now and then, but it’s not been really sore,” Pouliot said. “It’s just a matter of getting my cardio back. But the injury has been pretty good and I’ve been able to battle back from it.”
Pouliot, 24, has yet to live up to the expectations of a first-round pick. He scored 114 points in his last year of junior playing alongside Sidney Crosby in Rimouski, but has yet to transfer that scoring prowess to the NHL.
Last season, his first full year in the league, the native of Quebec City scored eight goals and added 12 assists in 63 games.
This year, expectations were high going into training camp.
“It was really tough, I had some expectations at the beginning of the year, I wanted to have a great start and show them what I can do,” Pouliot said.
“It was tough mentally to get injured, then missing 47 games. But that’s in the past, there’s nothing I can do about it now. I just have to focus on the rest of the season and I’m really excited to be back.”
In his four games with the Falcons, Pouliot scored a goal and added five assists.
“Every game I was playing there, I was feeling better,” Pouliot said. “Maybe it was not great to have to play four games in five nights, but every game I felt better. It’s all about the timing the reflexes and getting into game shape. I worked hard in the gym and it was a good test for me.”
Oilers head coach Pat Quinn has yet to get a good read on Pouliot, but knows the organization is high on him.
“When I came, they thought he would be one of our 12 forwards and it didn’t work out that way,” Quinn said. “That book is still open. We’ve still yet to see something that we were expecting out of him and some of our other players too.
“With Marc, he’s going to get a chance to play. He’s got some size and one of our coaches (Kelly Buchberger) has seen him play quite a bit and says that he can make a difference in our lineup because of that presence.
“He handles the puck fairly well and he also goes to the areas where you have to go to score goals.”