Pssst… Roli Starts!

"And now, led by Dwaythieu Garoloson, your Edmonton Oilers!" That’s right fans, until the Oilers emerge from the tunnel tonight to the familiar nasal tones of Mark Lewis and the cheers of a capacity crowd at Rexall Place to face the Vancouver Canucks, you won’t know for sure who’s playing goal—Mathieu Garon or Dwayne Roloson (bet on him). Not only is there much anticipation and no small measure of ill-will heading into what’s a must-win against the Canucks, there’s intrigue as well. Cloak-and-dagger stuff. I’m-not-telling-and-you-can’t-make-me stuff. In a move that’s a first, as far as I recall, in Craig MacTavish’s tenure as coach, he’s given no indication of who his starter against the Canucks will be. Garon and Roloson left the ice at the morning skate at the very same time—usually, the starter leaves first. With that bit of juicy misdirection complete, MacTavish wasn’t of the mind to elaborate on his choice of stopper—between you and I it’ll be Roloson, but let’s not tattle on MacT and ruin the fun. Our secret, K? With the Oilers needing to beat the Canucks tonight in regulation time to keep them in hailing distance in the Western Conference playoff race, MacTavish apparently feels Roloson is the man to get the job done, even if he isn’t willing to talk about it. Roloson, 38, went six weeks between starts before getting the call in Phoenix last Saturday, beating the Coyotes with 38 saves. He followed that with 48 saves in a 2-1 win over San Jose Sunday and made it three straight by beating the Coyotes 8-4 here to open a four-game homestand. Tonight makes it four in a row. Roloson, by the way, is 0-1 in two appearances against the Canucks this season with a 3.70 goals-against average and a hideous .800 saves percentage. Garon. 29, takes a seat for the fourth straight game after making 17 straight starts, going 11-6 before running out of gas in a 5-1 spanking last Thursday in Denver, where he got the hook in favour of Roloson. Garon’s got the better numbers against Vancouver in a season series that’s split 3-3 through the first six games—he’s 3–2 with a 2.40 GAA and a .908 saves percentage—but Roli will be first out of the tunnel tonight. Keep it under your hat, will you? OF NOTE… Seldom separated since birth, Daniel and Henrik Sedin will start tonight’s game on different lines. Look for Daniel with Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows, while Henrik with Ryan Shannon and Taylor Pyatt… the Canucks are either looking for trouble or expecting it after the teams went at it for 193 penalty minutes in Vancouver Feb. 16, as they’ll dress the hard-nosed tandem of Rick Rypien and Nathan McIver, neither of whom played in the last game. SAM SAYS: Oilers win 3-2 in OT SAM’S RECORD: 3-1

THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME Slumps shake up suffering Oiler snipers Tuesday, March 20, 1990 ROBIN BROWNLEE Journal Staff Writer THE EDMONTON JOURNAL Edmonton “It begins innocently enough: the puck glances off a skate in front of an open net and goes wide, a clear-cut chance rattles off the goalpost, a down-and-out goaltender stacks the pads, prays and is answered. Then it happens again. And again. Now the head drops, the hands tighten, the openings close. There is never enough time, a good angle or a clean shot. The net, once four-by-six, looks like a matchbox. Abruptly, there’s nothing innocent about the situation. Suddenly, you’re Edmonton Oiler Joe Murphy or maybe Craig Simpson, and you’re caught in the middle of a teeth-gnashing, confidence-busting, cold-sweat scoring slump…”

Yikes, was that really 18 years ago? Obviously, judging by Darren Dutchyshen’s boy-band hair in an accompanying item in today’s Cult of Hockey by David Staples, it was. Funny how hair changes (for God’s sake, Dutch, look in the mirror), but some things remain the same—as scoring slumps go, has it been any different at times this season for Jarret Stoll? Thanks, David, for rifling the archives and reminding me I’m a fossil and that the names and the rules might change, but the dynamics of the game remain largely the same. That, as I eye-ball smooth skin where my hair used to be, is comforting. —Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 5pm on Total Sports with Bob Stauffer on Team 1260.