If it wasn’t obvious before, it is now. Craig MacTavish has lost confidence in Mathieu Garon. In a move that shocked most, Dwayne Roloson will be starting tonight, not Garon, against the Kings.
Why you ask?
I have no idea. This move doesn’t make sense on any level. Roloson got pulled his last time out, and while Garon didn’t look comfortable for the first ten minutes in relief, he did look much better as game wore on.
The Oilers had four days of practice, Garon got to see more rubber than he had in the previous weeks, he looked and acted more comfortable and even he gave the impression he expected to start tonight against his former team.
But there was Roloson, first off at practice, and talking openly about starting tonight.
At the start of MacTavish’s press conference today, he was asked about Garon, but said he didn’t want to talk about the goalies before the game. Later in presser when pushed on it again he spoke about it.
“In talking to Pete about Mathieu he says his game in coming along in practice. It’s not just about the game, it’s about how Pete sees them (three goalies) coming along in practice. Matty’s game is coming around and based on practice he will get a start very soon.”
This move is more about just whether Roloson is better than Garon. MacTavish has lost confidence in Garon, and it sounds like goaltending coach Pete Peeters isn’t on the same page as Garon.
It was well-documented last season that Peeters wasn’t enamoured with Garon working with another goaltending consultant, Lyle Mast. Garon enjoyed working with Mast, and sources have hinted that #32 is no longer allowed to work with him.
If that is indeed the case, then Garon’s not playing could be based on more than just stopping pucks.
There is clearly something fishy about this situation.
Garon was great in his first three starts, and then average to below-average in the four since, but he wasn’t awful in relief against the Wings. And it’s not like Roloson was outstanding in his past few starts. He was okay, but not so great that you wouldn’t consider going with Garon.
Many wonder if the Oilers are showcasing Roloson, or plan on doing the same with Garon when, or if, he gets another start. So I asked MacTavish if he ever takes that angle when considering who will be his starter.
“I’m not a fortune teller. It’s incumbent on the player to get in there and play well, if he wants continue to play. That’s the simple part of it. When the goalies get and play well, like Mathieu did earlier, Jeff did in the middle, and how Rollie has done now. I go by what I see in practice and in the games; it’s as simple as that.”
Based on those comments Garon must not be practicing well, because he has only played 48 minutes since Nov 7th.
Rarely do I second guess a lot of moves a coach makes, because I don’t think I know more than him, but in this case I’m scratching my head.
All the signs pointed to starting Garon. He allowed one goal in 25 shots versus Detroit. He had four days of practice, he was playing his former team, and he hasn’t had a start since November 6th, but he will be watching again.
Coaches get paid to win, so if the Oilers win tonight, MacTavish can feel confident in his decision. But this decision has many more negatives possibilities than it does positive ones.
The only positive is a win.
A lose opens him up to loads of criticism, and justified criticism in this case. It leaves Garon wondering more than ever where he fits on this team. It also hurts the team down the road. They need to clarify their goaltending situation sooner than later, and hopefully find a solution that ends what has become a five-year search for a true #1 goalie.
Win or lose tonight, not starting Garon looks wrong.
—Listen to Gregor weekdays from 3 to 6 p.m. on the TEAM 1260 or online at www.justagame.ca.