I’ve seen a look in Dwayne Roloson’s eyes that chilled me in the past, and I’m betting the Edmonton Oilers will see it tonight when he stares out at them from the goal crease at Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum.
If there’s a more intense and mentally tough player in the NHL than Roloson, which in itself sounds odd because he’s a goaltender, for crying out loud — wing nut, yes, intensity, no — I haven’t met him.
If you watched Roloson during his days with the Oilers zoning in during the national anthem, where his head rolls around on his shoulders like he’s just stuck a fit in his arm as he talks to himself, you know what I mean.
And that’s not the half of it. Do you think Roloson took his job as starting goaltender back from Mathieu Garon a couple of seasons ago because he’s the better goaltender? Because he’s more talented? Not a chance.
Roloson wrestled his job back because he wanted it more than Garon. He was mentally tougher than Garon. He refused to pack it in, even after coach Craig MacTavish said Garon was his man.
I remember the "I’ll show you" look in Roloson’s eyes then — Ted Green’s lamps used to get goofy like that when he was about to go off — and I’ve seen enough of him to know we’ll see it again tonight.
The Oilers, essentially, told Roloson to take a hike this off-season when they refused to consider giving him a multi-year deal. No issue there. Why give a 39-year-old stopper two years? Instead, they shoved a big stack of money at 36-year-old Nikolai Khabibulin in a four-year deal.
How badly do you think Roloson wants to beat the Oilers tonight?
Hell hath no fury…
"He’ll be tougher than hell tonight," said radio play-by-play man Rod Phillips when I talked to him at his hotel in Long Island this morning. Yes, he will. Of that, anybody who knows Roloson will attest.
Roloson, who turned 40 last month, will take a 3-1-3 record, a 2.95 goals-against average and a .910 saves-percentage in against the Oilers. He also has a less-than-stellar 3-11-0 career record against Edmonton.
"For me personally, it’s just another game," Roloson said today, lying through his teeth like Bill Clinton did about Monica Lewinsky.
You can throw the numbers out the window right after Roloson’s just-another-game routine. He’ll damn sure be locked and loaded when the puck drops.
That’s no guarantee he’ll beat his former teammates, but bet your last buck he’ll have a big "screw you" mapped out in his head as its rolling around on his shoulders.
Roloson, simply, is one of guys who squeezes everything he can out of the ability he brings to the table. He’s not the most talented guy. He’s not the most physically gifted. Not even close.
Roloson has hung around the NHL for 469 games over 13 seasons because he’s as stubborn and dogged and focused as a man can be. He’ll fight you. He’ll prove you wrong. Or at least try.
"So, no two-year deal for me, but four years for Khabibulin, eh . . ." I can only imagine what imagery Roloson’s been using to get himself jacked up for this one as he faces an Oilers outfit that’s been shutout in three of the last four games.
He’ll kick them in the face, if he can.
This and that
- Former Oiler Rob Schremp won’t get a crack at his old teammates tonight as he’ll be a healthy scratch. Then again, that really is the definition of "Rob Schremp hockey," isn’t it?
- I thought former Oiler captain Doug Weight was finished two or three seasons ago, but that’s obviously not the case. Weight, by the way, has scored 8-8-16 in 18 career games against the Oilers.
— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Wednesday and Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.