Backup in the Show

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:05 AM ET

Ty Conklin wants another shot.

He may get it tomorrow when his Columbus Blue Jackets pay a visit to take on the Edmonton Oilers.

"I think it'll be neat just to come back," said former Oiler Conklin, who signed with the Blue Jackets in the off-season. "It's the first time I've really got a chance to go somewhere and play against a team that I was with at one time. It should be good, it should be pretty neat."

At one time, Conklin was touted as the Oilers' goaltender of the future.

Now he's a 30-year-old backup with the Blue Jackets who has spent most of the season in the minors.

"I've been up here for a little more than a month now with Pascal (Leclaire) being down," Conklin said.

"I haven't played a whole lot but I've come in a couple of times. Hopefully I'll get a chance to play a couple of games and get comfortable again."

The native of Eagle River, Alaska, is trying to climb his way back to the NHL full-time after a horrendous year with the Oilers last season.

Conklin was unable to regain the form that saw him supplant Tommy Salo as the Oilers' starter by the end of the 2003-04 season.

And eventually, he found himself in a three-goaltender rotation system that ended with him and Jussi Markkanen backing up Dwayne Roloson.

"It was a little different, but we dealt with it as best we could," Conklin said.

"It wasn't ideal for anybody, but that's the way it was. With those kind of things you just try and roll with the punches and try to make the best out of a situation like that."

Conklin was let go by the Oilers at the end of last season.

After joining the Blue Jackets he spent the majority of the year with the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL before being recalled on Boxing Day.

Conklin has played in seven games for the Blue Jackets this season, posting a 1-1-1 record with a 2.74 goals-against average and an .874 save percentage.

He last played on Saturday against the Minnesota Wild, going in for starter Freddie Norrena, who was injured late in the second period of the 3-2 win.

Norrena is currently day-to-day with a groin injury, meaning Conklin could get the start tonight in Vancouver against the Canucks.

That could set up a battle of the backups tomorrow.

His former teammate Markkanen was between the pipes for Saturday's Oilers win against the L.A. Kings - although the Oilers weren't saying yesterday who would start in goal against Columbus.

"We'll see how it goes (tonight in Vancouver)," Conklin said. "And then we'll worry about that."

Despite his struggles last season, Conklin's not lacking in confidence. He says it's a matter of finding the minutes to prove he can still play at the NHL level.

"When you're playing a lot and you're playing well, that's when your confidence is at its highest," Conklin said. "I don't know if it's confidence of not knowing whether I can play in the league, that's not the case. It's more of getting an opportunity and making the most of the opportunity.

"You try to earn more starts and earn the confidence of the coach to put you back in."


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