The wrong choice between the pipes

Garon where Roloson should have sat… In a pre-game poll on the Hockey’s Future fan website, respondents voted 150–14 that Mathieu Garon should get the start ahead of Dwayne Roloson against the Vancouver Canucks. Unfortunately for the unheeded majority, Edmonton Oilers coach Craig MacTavish had the only voted that counted. He put Roloson between the pipes and got a 4–1 stinker for his trouble. What MacTavish was thinking in going with Roloson for a fourth straight start isn’t clear—Roloson came in with an .800 saves percentage and a 3.70 goals-against average in the season series with the Canucks and didn’t improve on that by allowing four goals on 21 shots. Garon, meanwhile, could only sit and watch. After going 11–6 in 17 straight starts and putting up better numbers than Roloson against the Canucks—he’s 3–2 with a 2.40 GAA and .908 saves-percentage—he was reduced to cheerleading in the most important game of the season. Let the second-guessing begin. "I thought he, like us, didn’t have anything go right for him," MacTavish said of Roloson. "High quality chances and finding holes. A product of giving up a lot of goals on a lot of high quality chances." Translation: Roloson wasn’t rank cheese, but he was ordinary. It didn’t help that Tom Gilbert put the Canucks on the board when he batted Daniel Sedin’s rebound into his own net for a 1–0 lead. After making 38 saves to beat Phoenix 5–2 last Saturday and 48 more in a 2–1 win over San Jose Sunday, Roloson was so-so in an 8–4 win over the Coyotes in a rematch at Rexall Place. Good enough, though, to get the nod from the coach. "I felt alright, considering the situation," Roloson said. "I said all along, it’s the mental part when you haven’t played for so long. That’s the first thing you need to work on. That’s part of the game and something I need to start work on." Start work on? Roloson looked like a work well-in-progress on the road against Phoenix and San Jose, but he had issues last night? If that’s the case, did he mention them to MacTavish before the game? Be that as it may, the Oilers can kiss the Canucks and the Calgary Flames, who beat Colorado 2–1, goodbye, They’re both seven points up. The eighth-place Avs are the target now. So, who gets the start Saturday against Colorado? Another poll, perhaps? SAY WHAT? Hands down, Zack Stortini is my guy—in a rich lineage of wordsmiths to don Oilers silks, Stortini is the worst quote I’ve ever come across or will until Jay Bouwmeester becomes an Oiler. That’s quite an accomplishment, given the competition. As teammates, Tom Poti and Tommy Salo provided quotes that were DOA for years. Poti was just shy. Salo had a wicked sense of humour and he’d break you up on the bus—dirty talk we can’t use here—but put a notepad under his nose and he’d have you in a coma inside 20 seconds. In no particular order of degree in stultifying commentary, Ryan Smyth, Grant Fuhr and Boris Mironov seldom spun gold. Mind you, as Ron Low will attest, Bobo proved in 1999 during the Andrei Kovalenko all-night caper in Los Angeles he was a great, ahem, story-teller. Anyway, here’s a Stortini eye-glazer from Thursday before the Vancouver game. He was asked his thoughts on how the Oilers had clawed back into playoff contention. "We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves. We don’t look at that right now. It’s one game at a time and one shift at a time. We’re just focused on the task at hand right now." Fill my pad, big boy. —Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 5pm on Total Sports with Bob Stauffer on Team 1260.

  • David S

    Maybe this was the game of the last grouping that was somewhat expendable. Throw Roli in and maybe he wins one for us or maybe he's ordinary. If the latter, odds are we lose. And so it goes.

    But I'd bet big money that Garon is the man for the rest of the season. Now he's rested, with our toughest games coming up. Sacrifice one of the two or so we could "afford" to lose to increase the chances of winning the rest.

    That's the only thing that makes sense to me. MacT's a smart guy (more than most know) and by his mastery of the OT/SO rules, shows me he really knows how to play the odds.

    Garon for the rest of the year. Book it Dano!