March 17 2008 05:36PM
Like the Edmonton Oilers, Dwayne Roloson has absolutely no intention of going quietly and heading for the golf course like the whipped guy a lot of fans thought he was. Having lost his job as Craig MacTavish's top puck-stopper long ago and forced to pick pine slivers out of his arse while Mathieu Garon made 17 straight starts, Roloson showed what he's made of last weekend. In to mop up for Garon in a 5-1 loss to Colorado Thursday, Roloson got the nod in Phoenix Saturday and stiffed the Coyotes 5–2 with 38 saves. Roloson followed that up by hauling his 38-year-old carcass out of the rack for a game in San Jose less than 24 hours later and beat the Sharks 2-1 in a shootout with a 48-save performance. Just like that, the Oilers have nine wins in their last 11 games and arrived home just five points out of a playoff spot. Tuesday, they'll kick-off a four-game homestand that, against all odds, means something. "You just try to focus on what you've got to do to try to help the team win," Roloson said this morning. "I got the opportunity to play and I'm just trying to take advantage of it." Roloson's performance, given he had every opportunity to sulk while Garon took the spotlight, was nothing short of magnificent. For the record, Roloson's no media darling. At best, he tolerates the white-strip TV guys and ink-stained newspaper folks. In fact, he's downright surly at times, which is no the way to get slack when your game goes south and a case of Salo-itis seems to have taken grip. But, while Roloson's not the most engaging interview—there was no, "So, who's No. 1 now, Mathieu?" gold to be mined—he's got a chance to backstop one of the unlikeliest happy endings in team history. Roloson, against all reason, is that good right now. "I've seen him at that level, but I haven't seen him above that level," said MacTavish. "The thing about Roli is that when his game gets there, I've seen it stay there for three months. With the games he's played, the game he played (Sunday), he's back at the level we’ve seen him at before and we know where that can lead you." That would be the spring of 2006 when Roloson helped carry the Oilers to the Stanley Cup final before Marc-Andre Bergeron's brain cramp ended his goaltender's Conn Smyth Trophy bid and his team's hopes. Now, don't get goofy. It's 2008, so please, resist the urge to break stuff and puke on your shoes on Whyte Ave. With nine games to go, the Oilers are still a longshot. Still, MacTavish's reference is clear. The last word goes to Garon, who'll now find himself a cheerleader for as long as Roloson stays hot. "We're winning," Garon said. "I'm not here for myself. I'm here for the team. We just won two big games. I know what's going on. I want to be in the playoffs, so if it works that way I have no problem." NO SECRETS I implied yesterday that Garon might be hiding an injury, thus the back-to-back starts for Roloson. While Garon was yanked in Denver after being bowled over by Steve Staios and Milan Hejduk, he told me this morning it was a straight pull by MacTavish—no injury involved. —Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 5 pm on Total Sports with Bob Stauffer on Team 1260.