His 'bigs' chance

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:38 AM ET

For Ty Conklin, it could have very easily gone the other way.

When he stepped in for Dwayne Roloson in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final last spring, the former Edmonton Oilers goaltender could have stolen the show.

He could have led the Oilers to victory in the game.

He could have been the Oilers starting goaltender for the rest of the series, which could have resulted in him staying in Edmonton.

"In all likelihood, if he would have come in and won the game and played well, he could have easily played the next game," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish.

"Given the set of circumstances, it was such a pressure-cooker to begin with, I just felt it would be easier for Jussi (Markkanen) to respond after the disappointment that was Game 1."

It was the mistake behind his own net leading to the Carolina winner in Game 1 which proved to be Conklin's final act as an Oiler.

TOOK OVER

Markkanen took over as the Oilers goaltender in the series following Roloson's injury and backstopped the team to a seventh and deciding game.

This off-season Conklin left and Markkanen stayed.

"I think it was a tough break with what occurred," said Oilers winger Ryan Smyth. "I'm happy he's back in the NHL.

"It was a tough situation for both he and Jussi because they were alternating every game. Jussi could have just as easily been the backup for that game. Who knows?

"As far as we're concerned we don't hold (Conklin) responsible at all for what happened. Collectively as a team, we shouldn't have got ourselves in that position."

It's been a long road back for Conklin. And as luck would have it, he could get the start tonight for the Columbus Blue Jackets against the Oilers.

"If motivation counts for anything then it'll be a pretty good performance on his part," said MacTavish.

"I'm sure he's highly motivated to come in here and play really well.

"I know how competitive he is and how he would frame this situation. He would look at it as a great opportunity as most guys would. But Ty's a really competitive guy and he's going to want to come in here and play well for a lot of reasons."

IN THE MINORS

First and foremost, Conklin is trying to get back to the NHL full-time.

Since the Oilers let him go he has spent a majority of the season in the minors with the Blue Jackets AHL affiliate in Syracuse.

He was called up just over a month ago when Blue Jackets starter Pascal Leclaire was injured.

On Saturday, Conklin entered the Blue Jackets game against the Minnesota Wild in relief of Fredrik Norrena, who left the gamer with a groin injury.

Last night Conklin got the start against Vancouver.

"It'll be good to see him," said Oilers centre Jarret Stoll.

"It's good that he's back up where he should be. He was a great teammate, a great friend.

"I played with him in Hamilton my first year as a pro, so it's good to see him back in the NHL.

"I'm sure the way he ended here was not the way he wanted it to end.

"It was a tough break for him, but it looks like he's battled back and he's playing now, which is good."


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