Dwayne Roloson: Destined To Play Every Game Between Now and Elimination?

Jonathan Willis
March 21 2009 11:51AM

roli1

Fun game last night. The refereeing was questionable – at times even downright bad, and the Oilers didn’t exactly carry the play for the whole game, but a win is a win and the Oilers have managed to put together a stretch of play that has them gaining some clearance on 9th place in the West. Despite a goal from Gagner and a shootout goal from Kotalik, the second line was soundly outplayed on the night, and Liam Reddox left the game after a late hit to the head from behind courtesy of Ben Eager.

Dwayne Roloson played his 27th game in a row last night, and there were some scary moments. He went down hard a couple of times, at one point slamming the back of his knee into his goal post, at another point appearing to injure his arm. He was asked about it after the game, and here are some of the questions:

REPORTER: Havlat went around the net and it looked like you hurt your arm… ROLOSON: You’ll have to ask the trainers on that one, I’m not at liberty to say.

REPORTER: Were you worried at all when you went down? ROLOSON: No, I wasn’t worried – well I was worried, he had the puck and he was going behind the net. You always worry when something hurts, but it’s part of the job. PRINCIPE: Did you think you might have to come out, especially on the initial impact? ROLOSON: I don’t know. I can’t answer that question – I don’t know what my thought process was at that point, sorry Gene I really can’t.

PRINCIPE: Before the game the head coach said that he had spoken to you and that he maybe considered starting Jeff, but he thought “why change a good thing”. I’m wonder about the conversation feeling you had in getting another chance to continue the streak? ROLOSON: Well it wasn’t much of a conversation. He just said, “Are you OK?” I said “yeah” That was it. There wasn’t much to it.

Aside from the fact that Roloson clearly likes playing with the media and that he isn’t going to say anything that indicates he feels tired or hurt, I see one very interesting point there. At the risk of reading too much into one comment, the conversation between Roloson and MacTavish would seem to offer us a glimpse into the coach’s mindset. MacTavish clearly sees Roloson as a better option than Jeff Deslauriers, and it seems that he plans to ride the hot hand until Roloson says he needs a break – and despite his age I don’t know if that’s going to happen. Given that Roloson gets practices off, and given his incredibly competitive nature, I doubt that he’s going to ask for a break. MacTavish actually raised the point that playing many consecutive games could be a positive for Roloson:

"I'm waiting for the question: Do you think all this activity has been beneficial to Rollie?" added MacTavish. "And I'll answer it: It looks to me like it has. He is a guy that's capable of keeping his game at the level it's at for quite some time."

Is that wise? While this doesn’t qualify as a full answer, here is Dwayne Roloson’s save percentage (h/t to Vic Ferrari for the idea) in five game segments over the last 27 games:

  • 1st segment: .898 SV%
  • 2nd segment: .923 SV%
  • 3rd segment: .918 SV%
  • 4th segment: .912 SV%
  • 5th segment: .919 SV%
  • Last 2 games: .929 SV%

I don’t see any evidence there that Roloson’s getting tired yet. Further, I really don’t see MacTavish resting him until one of two things occurs: the Oilers have a playoff spot locked, or the wheels fall off. And I’m not convinced that he’s wrong to do so.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 Ogden Brother
March 21 2009, 11:57AM
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As soon as the team loses because of tending, the MacT bashers will be using it as amo... but as of right now, I see no reason to go to JDD.

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#2 kingsblade
March 21 2009, 12:01PM
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I can't make up my mind about it. You would expect a guy who's been around as long as Roloson to have enough self awareness to know if he needs to come out.

On the other hand nobody with a serious enough competitive drive ever wants to come out.

The question in my mind is this: if they wait for evidence that he's tired will it already be too late?

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#3 Matt
March 21 2009, 12:03PM
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I'm in the other camp on this one. I can remember in 06-07 that when MacT rode Roli for a long period of time the wheels fell off after a while. On the flipside I get that Roli was playing those big minutes for the first time that season and he is probably better at conserving his energy because this isn't the first time he's played big minutes for us, but I just think that if he plays every game until he breaks then we're going to get burned and we would be better off reducing his workload now and reducing the chance of him needing a longer break to get his game back.

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#4 Victoria
March 21 2009, 12:09PM
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Those moments last night (including the awkward save on Kane in the shootout) worried me a bit, but otherwise Roli has been a machine this year. You look around the league and see all these other goaltenders missing days, weeks, or months with injuries, yet there's Roloson almost getting his head taken off by his own teammate and still going strong. This guy deserves major props, this is a season he was expected to play as insurance but he came in prepared for the long haul. I can easily see them continuing on with Roli for the rest of the season. I gotta say, though, this sure isn't helping JDD's development. Hopfully we can secure a spot early enough so we can throw him in for a game or two.

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#5 Ender the Dragon
March 21 2009, 12:27PM
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I get the feeling that a 'successful' season for the Oilers management would be getting to the second round of the playoffs. To have even a reasonable shot at that, you need to line up in at least 6th place in the West. So the two things you're looking at, then, are winning as many of your next 11 games as possible, and then winning 4 of the seven after that. Total of, say, 18 games.

MacT is probably of the mindset that the first 11 are more imprtant than the next 7, so he'll probably ride Roli into the ground to get his playoff position, and then hope there's something left to carry them in the first round. If Roli is spent going into the first round, then at that point he'll 'sacrifice' a game or two to JDD while Roli rests.

Just my opinion . . . but I'm not opposed to this plan either.

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#6 DK0
March 21 2009, 12:52PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

DWAYNE ROLOSON: DESTINED TO PLAY EVERY GAME BETWEEN NOW AND ELIMINATION?

And you call yourself an Oilers fan... your supposed to be riding the OilFan rollercoaster of dizzying highs and soul crushing lows. The correct title of this article (given the current state of the team) is: "DWAYNE ROLOSON: DESTINED TO PLAY EVERY GAME BETWEEN NOW AND US WINNING THE STANLEY CUP?"

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#7 Phil
March 21 2009, 01:04PM
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Ender the Dragon wrote:

I get the feeling that a ’successful’ season for the Oilers management would be getting to the second round of the playoffs. To have even a reasonable shot at that, you need to line up in at least 6th place in the West. So the two things you’re looking at, then, are winning as many of your next 11 games as possible, and then winning 4 of the seven after that. Total of, say, 18 games. MacT is probably of the mindset that the first 11 are more imprtant than the next 7, so he’ll probably ride Roli into the ground to get his playoff position, and then hope there’s something left to carry them in the first round. If Roli is spent going into the first round, then at that point he’ll ’sacrifice’ a game or two to JDD while Roli rests. Just my opinion . . . but I’m not opposed to this plan either.

Amd quite frankly, no else should be, either. It's the only plan IMO.

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#8 Jay
March 21 2009, 01:10PM
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I'm not a stats guy. Do you have a stat on bad goals allowed versus not? Probably not. 40 perimieter shots a game can really pad the stats. How about a quality scoring chance stat?

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#9 rOILty
March 21 2009, 01:15PM
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I agree with riding roli, but what if we secure a spot and give JDD some time, then roli loses his hot streak right before the playoffs. IMO JDD should get a start soon and then its roli to the finish line, wherever that may be.

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#10 Milli
March 21 2009, 01:17PM
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To me, the stats are correct, he has looked better and better. You can always tell by hpw many times a game he loses his stick or shakes off his mask (that's when he is really on!!!!). I was a bit surprised to see him in lastnight, but, I think at this point, he plays till the parade. What exactly would we be resting him for? Maybe, depending how we play, he sits the last game against the lames.

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#11 Matt N
March 21 2009, 01:24PM
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Another thought to throw in here. It would be really nice to get a look at JDD before having to make some personel decisions at the goalie position in the off season.

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#12 Tim S
March 21 2009, 01:26PM
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When it comes to fatigue it is not how he feels now but how will he feel in the future. His age and the amount of games he plays says that he can not/should not play them all. Mentally if not physically it is too much.

When I saw the 2 goals that he overplayed last night I wondered if that was a sign of fatigue. When I see the way he needs a Spatchula just to get up off the ice it makes me wonder if that is a sign of fatigue.

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#13 Victoria
March 21 2009, 01:32PM
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Tim S wrote:

When it comes to fatigue it is not how he feels now but how will he feel in the future. His age and the amount of games he plays says that he can not/should not play them all. Mentally if not physically it is too much. When I saw the 2 goals that he overplayed last night I wondered if that was a sign of fatigue. When I see the way he needs a Spatchula just to get up off the ice it makes me wonder if that is a sign of fatigue.

Last night is a bit of an exception, though. Don't forget they played back-to-back games on the road and got to their hotel at 3am.

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#14 jeanshorts
March 21 2009, 01:34PM
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The crappy thing is, is that there are really no games for the rest of the season that we can chance it against a lower opposition. Phoenix is the only "easier" team we play for the rest of the season. But with the way the race is right now you don't want to give up an easy two points and slip up because that one game against Phoenix could either mean golfing in April, or golfing later in April.

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#15 jeanshorts
March 21 2009, 01:34PM
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So in conclusion, let's just ride Rolli until he finally dies on the ice.

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#16 Jonathan Willis
March 21 2009, 01:42PM
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Tim S wrote:

When I saw the 2 goals that he overplayed last night I wondered if that was a sign of fatigue. When I see the way he needs a Spatchula just to get up off the ice it makes me wonder if that is a sign of fatigue.

On the other hand, Roloson was phenomenal in the two games prior to last night, and even last night he made some great saves - in the shootout, on the bogus Toews penalty shot, etc.

I weasel-worded my opinion at the end "I'm not convinced he's wrong because this is one of those situations where there are good arguments in both directions.

That said, MacTavish went with Roloson well before most of us would have this year, and it probably saved the Oilers' playoff hopes. If I had to decide, I'd say that MacTavish not only will lean on Roli again, but that he's likely right to do so.

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#17 Jonathan Willis
March 21 2009, 01:44PM
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As an aside: am I the only one who gets a kick out of Roli saying that he's "not at liberty" to discuss how he feels, and that the reporter should go talk to the trainers?

He's a funny guy, that Roloson.

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#18 Matt
March 21 2009, 01:45PM
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jeanshorts wrote:

So in conclusion, let’s just ride Rolli until he finally dies on the ice.

Maybe if we stage his death we can get a few games postponed and get him a break anyways

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#19 David S
March 21 2009, 01:51PM
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Of course it's a huge calculated gamble. Obviously the best way for us to finish sixth is to ice our hottest team every night, of which Roli is part of the equation. Maybe if Visnovsky stays healthy and we win a few more, Roli gets some more games off. But right now it's a balls to the wall strategy to avoid San Jose or Detroit, either of which would make quick work of us.

The unknown in all this is the injury factor. If Roli goes down, then we have an AHL goaltender in net who's been sitting on the bench since November coming into the highest pressure part of the season stone cold. At that point I think the gamble would have failed and we'd go kicking and scratching into the night in 9th or so.

All in all, a good gamble I think. Still, it would be nice to have a reliable NHL backup to spell off Roli once in a while. Although I see the Flames are riding Kipper pretty hard too (and always have) so maybe this isn't such a big deal as we think. As long as Roli can stay mentally sharp, then he should be competitive enough to make the second season. Good thing for Roli is that our D is maturing somewhat and alot of nights he has to be mostly solid with a few moments of brilliance.

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#20 Reggie
March 21 2009, 01:53PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

On the other hand, Roloson was phenomenal in the two games prior to last night,

I was at the Blues game and my tix have me seeing Roli for the 1st and 3rd periods and OT and S/O. I didn't think that the Blues really tested Roli until the last 5 minutes or so of the third period and into the OT and then the shootout.

The shots for the blues were misleading - 32 shots overall, 8 in the third period and 2 in OT. This was not a tough night for Roli. Yes, big saves in the closing moments and in OT, but lots of outside or perimiter shots by STL.

Roli stopped 25 of 25 even strength shots.

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#21 GSC
March 21 2009, 01:55PM
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This is a classic example of the short-sightedness of this organization. Ride Roloson until there's nothing left in the tank, and leave a young goaltender to sit and do nothing until that time comes and hope that he doesn't shit the bed.

Yes, you want to get into a playoff spot. But at the same time, there's a future goaltender who needs playing time. I'm convinced that MacTavish is trying to save his job, knowing full well that he'd rather run Roli into the ground because he knows what he's getting than take a risk on JDD.

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#22 Reggie
March 21 2009, 02:03PM
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@ GSC: I agree this run by Roli is that of a desperate coach. From an organizational standpoint, there is no reason to bury Garon for a few bad starts at the beginning of the year and now not start JDD since Nov. 30. This is not good for the team and is high risk.

MacT throwing Shremp under the bus, burying Penner and Nilsson on the 4th line. All strange approaches from an organization perspective. It is funny how a player responds when given the right opportunity. Did Nilsson just figure out how to make a pass like that Ganger ? No, it is about opportunity and MacT controls that by ice time.

Cogs has been a steady player all year and now all of a sudden he's getting the lowest ice time among forwards the past two games. Another example of giving or taking away opportunity - and in my view not necessarily for results.

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#23 Tommy
March 21 2009, 02:16PM
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Question for no one (or everyone). Is there any chance that Lubo comes back for a late playoff series? I know he is "out for the season" but it is just more a question of how many months he needs to be out after his surgery.

I doubt he is even scheduled to start skating before the end of the season, but just curious.

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#24 David S
March 21 2009, 02:28PM
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Tommy wrote:

Question for no one (or everyone). Is there any chance that Lubo comes back for a late playoff series? I know he is “out for the season” but it is just more a question of how many months he needs to be out after his surgery. I doubt he is even scheduled to start skating before the end of the season, but just curious.

I've had the same surgery. Trust me, he's gone for the year.

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#25 Quinn
March 21 2009, 02:40PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

As an aside: am I the only one who gets a kick out of Roli saying that he’s “not at liberty” to discuss how he feels, and that the reporter should go talk to the trainers? He’s a funny guy, that Roloson.

Did Roli have a smile on his face when he said this. Otherwise, I agree, it is a Monty Pythonesque straight face line.

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#26 Tommy
March 21 2009, 02:52PM
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@ David S:

That is good enough for me.

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#27 Tim S
March 21 2009, 02:52PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

That said, MacTavish went with Roloson well before most of us would have this year, and it probably saved the Oilers’ playoff hopes. If I had to decide, I’d say that MacTavish not only will lean on Roli again, but that he’s likely right to do so.

For sure MacT went back to Roloson well before anyone else would have. Garon had a slow start and the job was handed back to a struggling Roloson. Having said that Roloson has played very well and is leading this drive to the playoffs.

The fact that MacT has not started JDD since Nov whatever is an absolute crime. I really feel that time will come soon when Roloson is going to be terrible in a serious of games and MacT will reason that he simply overused him. I think there is a real disagreement between MacT and management on how good JDD is.

My prediction is Det loses in the 1st or 2nd round with bad goaltending, MacT resigns in the summer and Roloson signs in Det.

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#28 David S
March 21 2009, 02:52PM
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Reggie wrote:

@ GSC: I agree this run by Roli is that of a desperate coach. From an organizational standpoint, there is no reason to bury Garon for a few bad starts at the beginning of the year and now not start JDD since Nov. 30. This is not good for the team and is high risk. MacT throwing Shremp under the bus, burying Penner and Nilsson on the 4th line. All strange approaches from an organization perspective. It is funny how a player responds when given the right opportunity. Did Nilsson just figure out how to make a pass like that Ganger ? No, it is about opportunity and MacT controls that by ice time. Cogs has been a steady player all year and now all of a sudden he’s getting the lowest ice time among forwards the past two games. Another example of giving or taking away opportunity - and in my view not necessarily for results.

Schremp is done. He's an OK AHL player playing where he belongs. He threw himself under the bus. Get over it. Not to worry though, I hear the Jonas Brothers are always looking for new fans.

Garon was dealt. We don't know why, so quit trying to make up things without having a clue as to what you're talking about.

Nilsson is playing great now because he was shown the consequences of not bringing it every night.

Penner put himself where he is. Strangely enough, he's doing well there. He was a stopgap measure for the first line LW. Our "fourth" line is not really that right now as they're playing way more minutes in an important checking role.

This run by Roli is an act of desperation by the team, not the coach. They want to make the playoffs and avoid Detroit or San Jose at all costs. So far, it seems to be panning out. JDD isn't an option right now.

From what I've seen, the lines are working the best they have all year, at a time when it counts the most. And that's with the 10 line pretty much stalled. Hate to say it but that's not MacT's fault.

Please try to keep up.

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#29 Jack "FMNF" Bauer
March 21 2009, 03:18PM
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I wonder how Mactavish feels when his superstar goalie is at Oil City after a game getting wasted and leaving with a couple of blondes on his arms.

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#30 David S
March 21 2009, 03:28PM
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Jack "FMNF" Bauer wrote:

I wonder how Mactavish feels when his superstar goalie is at Oil City after a game getting wasted and leaving with a couple of blondes on his arms.

MacT probably paid for the blondes.

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#31 David S
March 21 2009, 03:30PM
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Jack "FMNF" Bauer wrote:

I wonder how Mactavish feels when his superstar goalie is at Oil City after a game getting wasted and leaving with a couple of blondes on his arms.

What's with Oil City anyways? The place is a dive and yet it seems to be the team's "after game practice" place of choice.

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#32 roughneck
March 21 2009, 03:35PM
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Jack "FMNF" Bauer wrote:

I wonder how Mactavish feels when his superstar goalie is at Oil City after a game getting wasted and leaving with a couple of blondes on his arms.

probably high fives him coming in the following morning...

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#33 jeanshorts
March 21 2009, 03:45PM
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Jack "FMNF" Bauer wrote:

I wonder how Mactavish feels when his superstar goalie is at Oil City after a game getting wasted and leaving with a couple of blondes on his arms.

Pictures and/or sex tape or that's false.

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#34 Milli
March 21 2009, 04:05PM
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Maybe 38 in a row is too much, but, I ask you this, how many games a year does Kipper, Louongo or Broduer(not this year) but typically play? I don't know, but I know it is alot. Roli looks fine, he looks 06 fine. I ain't worried abouth the tending. If this group can keep this momentum building.....We'll be fine, if not, it isn't going to be because of Roli, the guy loves it.

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#35 alon
March 21 2009, 04:11PM
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@ Jay:

Well I can't give you up-to-date bad goal stats, but I ran into them once and I'll try to give you the best recitation from memory I can.

The article I found was titled "Is Roloson REALLY better than Garon?"

The author said that he had calculated that last season Roli let in one bad goal for every 22 shots. In comparison Garon let one bad goal in for every 32 shots. He also said that the average shots against last year was somewhere around 28. So Roli let in a bad goal twice as often as Garon. That was last year, however. At the point when he wrote the article (about 15-20 games into the year) the difference between Roli and Garon was closer but Garon was still doing better.

The author did a bunch more comparisons between the two guys too, but for the life of me I can't remember who wrote it :S But that should cover your bad goal stats.

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#36 alon
March 21 2009, 04:14PM
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@ Milli:

They play about 75 games each year. I ask you when was the last time Calgary made it past the first round? '04? In 04 Kipper started only 28 games before the playoffs...

Same goes for Luongo (when Vancouver makes the playoffs).

Brodeur is a little bit of a different story but I would be willing to bet that Jersey would do better in the post season if Marty didn't play so much. This year could serve to prove that thesis...

Oh, and none of these guys are 39

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#37 Milli
March 21 2009, 04:30PM
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@ alon: How many did he play in a row before the 06 run? All I'm saying is I don't think that roli is gonna be our problem, I truly believe he will stand on his head come post season. The only question is can the boys deliver?

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#38 Robin B
March 21 2009, 05:13PM
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Jack "FMNF" Bauer wrote:

I wonder how Mactavish feels when his superstar goalie is at Oil City after a game getting wasted and leaving with a couple of blondes on his arms.

How should MacTavish feel? As long as Roloson shows up to work ready to play, and it's obvious he has, who gives a squirt what Roloson does on his own time?

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#39 Jack "FMNF" Bauer
March 21 2009, 05:13PM
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@ jeanshorts:

Thats a regular occurence in this city. Between that place, Vinyl, and the 2 Hudson's locations the boys are usually out. And come on, do you honestly doubt that these guys have babes hanging off of them everytime they go out?

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#40 the Menace (mobile)
March 21 2009, 05:20PM
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As competitive as Roli is, I really think injury is more of a concern than fatigue. I remember Conks losing us the Cup like it was yesterday. Sobs into the slack in his shirt.*

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#41 Deno
March 21 2009, 05:43PM
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Just wanted to comment on Mr. Willis' headline, is he suggesting that the Oilers will inevitably be eliminated, need I remind him of the 06 Cup Run and the near non-elimination Stanley Cup victory.

I apologize for bringing up the still tenderly painful 06 Cup Final loss.

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#42 David S
March 21 2009, 06:38PM
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Deno wrote:

Just wanted to comment on Mr. Willis’ headline, is he suggesting that the Oilers will inevitably be eliminated, need I remind him of the 06 Cup Run and the near non-elimination Stanley Cup victory. I apologize for bringing up the still tenderly painful 06 Cup Final loss.

Wuh? 29 teams will "inevitably be eliminated". I'd bet the farm the Oilers will be one of them. What's the point here?

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#43 Jonathan Willis
March 21 2009, 06:46PM
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FYI, regarding the title of today's post, "Elimination" could also refer to the elimination of all opponents.

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#44 Jonathan Willis
March 21 2009, 06:47PM
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Although I wouldn't bet against David S either.

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#45 Jonathan Willis
March 21 2009, 06:47PM
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Robin B wrote:

How should MacTavish feel? As long as Roloson shows up to work ready to play, and it’s obvious he has, who gives a squirt what Roloson does on his own time?

Seconded.

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#46 Chris
March 21 2009, 07:58PM
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Tim S wrote:

My prediction is Det loses in the 1st or 2nd round with bad goaltending, MacT resigns in the summer and Roloson signs in Det.

Ouch! I hope Detroit DOES lose in the first round... TO THE MIGHTY OIL! Then I predict Hossa will sign here; It's his M.O.!

MacT may not WANT to coach another season...

Oh, and Roli will probably want a two year contract. If that is the case do you think it is wise for Tambellini to sign him? It's not like Roli is the ONLY goalie in the league who can post a .915 save percentage. I'm proud of "OLD BALLS"... I hope he does well for himself in free agency should he choose to leave Edmonton.

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#47 volfman
March 21 2009, 08:20PM
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@ Jonathan Willis: Been watching Hemsky closer now for a few games. Finding that infact he's actually not winning any battle's. I'll keep wathing though for a few more games, hopefully i'll get proved wrong.

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#48 volfman
March 21 2009, 08:22PM
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@ volfman: WATCHING, not wathing

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#49 freeze
March 21 2009, 08:23PM
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Eager was suspended for 3 games today. I hope Reddox is able to bounce back quickly; I liked him on that line.

hxxp://tinyurl.com/cdq9nj

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#50 Slurve
March 21 2009, 09:25PM
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@ David S:

David S wrote:

Reggie wrote: @ GSC: --- Hate to say it but that’s not MacT’s fault. Please try to keep up.

David, are you out of your mind? On the contrary,you should keep up with the rest of us. The Oils organization screwed up with the 3 goalie system. All it did was limit practise and playing time for the goalies; and as well, it shorten the bench for a nongoalie roster player. They could have used that spot to test other AHL players. They could not send Deslaurier back to AHL without clearing waivers so they trade Garon away who could have made a better back up than the inexp. Deslaurier. Now they are hooped and they better pray that Rolli does not get injured playing over 26 consecutive games breaking Ranford's record. They are in deep doo doo if they make it far into the playoffs. Rolli is no spring chicken at 39 and playing nonstop while facing over 30 shots on average per game.

Dustin Penner was given a huge contract by Lowe to pry him out of Anaheim. Now Penner has to play like a guy worth 4.5 million in his 1st and 2nd year and as well be a physical force (as reiterated by MacT so often). Well Penner was not a physical force nor a fighter while in Anaheim (please check his stats in pim). SO we whip this Clydesdale into a thorougbred because of his contract, size and 29 goals in Anaheim.

Lets face it, MacT has his favorites and not so fav. Penner gets the doghouse and has become MacT's whipping boy on most nights.

Schremp gets fewer breaks than Reddox. What in the hell is Reddox partnering with Hemsky when you have others with more scoring touch such as Pouliot, Nilsson, Gagner, Cogs, etc to play there.

MacT's system is quite perplexing most times. So david, you cannot be further fron the truth when you say it is not MacT's fault. Your statements are idiotic to say the lease. Are you Kevin Lowe aka David S... lol

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