December 11 2008 01:04PM
Another game day and another surprise start: Mathieu Garon get's the nod between the pipes tonight. After Dwayne Roloson beat the Sharks by himself, it seemed obvious that he would start tonight, especially since he seems to have the confidence of the coach.
But Craig MacTavish will go back to Garon, with the hopes he can win three straight games for the second time this year. This marks only the second time this season that Garon will start three of four. The last time he did it, he won all three, but then after sitting a game in Chicago, he seemed to lose steam.
Garon was inactive for awhile when he was working on his game, and he’s come back and got a couple wins under his belt. If he didn’t go tonight it would have been a long time between starts again, so this way he can stay in a rhythm and then we can go with Roli on Saturday.
So now it seems that MacTavish wants to keep both guys sharp, which is different from the “we’ll go with the hot guy” mantra that was here earlier. I don’t envy MacTavish in this situation because there is no right answer, unless the team wins. Neither goalie is decidedly better, while neither is a definite choice to be better long-term for the organization. I’m not sold that Garon can be an everyday #1, so signing him to a three-year $10 million deal in the summer wouldn’t be wise. And Roloson is at best a one-year stop gap next season. MacTavish needs some help from this GM to sort out this situation; otherwise it will continue to be distraction.
Smid does it all
Ladislav Smid will skate beside Steve Staios tonight in the third pairing. Smid has looked comfortable since his brief audition up front, and if he continues to play solidly, expect him to get a string of consecutive games.
Outside of playing forward and defence, today he tried his hand as a reporter. He grabbed the Oilers website mic flash, and did an impromptu interview with Tom Gilbert. Gilbert seemed distracted waiting for Smid to drop a “how is the lady situation in your life” question, but it never came. Not sure if you will see it on their site, because Smid needs to learn to hold the mic in front of the Gilberts mouth when he answers a question. He kept pulling the mic away preparing his next question.
Meanwhile on the other side of the room, Dustin Penner continues to fill the void of Marty Reasoner and Matt Greene as the resident funny man. Check out Ryan Rishaug’s piece on TSN later today. Penner has a great comment about blow driers. Supposedly in Winkler, Manitoba it’s not uncommon for 12-year-olds to have mullets.
Gagner back in
Sam Gagner will play with Liam Reddox and Gilbert Brule tonight, and look for him to play a simpler game.
“I know the way I can play. The first part of the year I was there, but then when I started not scoring I got off my game. I’m not a guy who creates on the rush,” said Gagner.
“I have to make the simple plays until I reach the offensive zone, then I need to be creative. Most of my offence, actually all of it, starts in the offensive zone. People say I’m a small skilled forward and that I should create offence on the rush, but I’ve never really done that. Last year when I was successful it came from the top of the circle and in. I need to get back to that.”
Time to man up
I’ve seen all the posts lately suggesting that Erik Cole is more involved in the game than we think.
That’s hogwash. Sure, he’s been better the past few games, but that’s not saying much because he was invisible for the previous ten.
Watching Cole around practice and the room, I sure don’t see a lot of signs of a guy who is ready to break out. His body language reeks of a lack of confidence and frustration, and for a veteran player in a young locker room, that’s unacceptable. The team has won three straight, so he should at least be happy about that.
When Adam Oates was here, and doing less than Cole is now, he at least made an impact in other areas. It’s time Erik Cole became more of a leader. You can’t just lead when you are playing well. That isn’t leadership, especially in a room with so many young and impressionable players.
-- Listen to Gregor live on Just a Game, every weekday drive-time on Team 1260 from 3 to 6pm.