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.
March 16 2008 09:41PM
Is Mathieu Garon injured? There's no word from the Edmonton Oilers on that, but after making 17 straight starts, Garon was back on the bench for the second straight game as Dwayne Roloson got the call in a 2-1 shootout win over the San Jose Sharks. While Roloson was outrageously good in San Jose, making 48 saves, his back-to-back starts—he beat Phoenix 5-2 with 38 saves Saturday—seem odd, given the circumstances. Garon faced the Colorado Avalanche in Denver Thursday, but was pulled four minutes into the second period with the score 3–0 right after Steve Staios rode forward Milan Hejduk into him. Not after the 3–0 goal, but right after the collision at the top of the crease. The 29-year-old stopper also took some punishment at the United Center March 7 when Matt Greene dumped 250-pound Chicago forward Dustin Byfuglien on top of him. The Oilers couldn't land in San Jose after the Phoenix game because of a curfew at the airport there. Instead, they had to land in San Francisco and bus to San Jose, getting to the hotel at 2 a.m. It's common practice to split back-to-back games between a starter and the back-up. Sitting out your starter, assuming he's healthy, for both games is anything but common—especially when those games are played in less than 24 hours. While Garon may just have some bumps and bruises as opposed to having a specific injury, I suspect there's more to Roloson's back-to-back starts than just "rest" for the starter. As sharp as Roloson looks, Garon may get more rest if he, ahem, needs it. —Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 5pm on Total Sports with Bob Stauffer on Team 1260.
March 16 2008 06:49PM
(When Penner scored goals...)
"I'm going to get in the best shape I can coming into camp here and just play hockey.
March 15 2008 03:04PM
First the NHL decided repeat offender Chris Pronger shouldn't be suspended at all for stomping Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks with his skate last Wednesday.
March 14 2008 01:08PM
(WARRIOR, pictured above, is consoled by his teddy after Brownlee tears a strip off of him.) I thought I'd be like the Oilers in Denver and not show up today, but there's so many things rattling around my big, empty head...