Twine turns to Mike

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:22 AM ET

With one too many goalies, and one too many unanswered questions about each of them, Craig MacTavish could analyze himself into an ulcer trying to decide what to do in goal.

Is Mike Morrison for real?

How much more does he have to prove before you mortgage the season on a guy who's never started in the NHL before?

Has Ty Conklin lost it, or was October just a temporary glitch? Does he deserve a shot at redemption when he comes off IR? How does he get that shot without somebody being demoted to free up the roster spot?

Were Jussi Markkanen's recent shaky starts the exception? Or are they the norm for someone who's better suited as a backup?

There are enough plot lines in "As The Twine Turns" to really cloud the future, but for now Morrison's winning streak is providing the Oilers with some much-needed clarity.

"Today it's pretty clear," said MacTavish, who plans to ride the hot hand for as long as it stays that way and worry about tomorrow when it gets here. "We all know the situation: we've got a guy who's played as well as anybody has here for a long time. The only question is can he sustain it?"

They're going to find out.

"I'm going to see how far he can run with it. It would be crazy not to," said MacTavish. "We've got great goaltending, we're winning hockey games. I'm not going to change that."

And they're not about to jettison anyone else until they find out exactly what Morrison is capable of on a regular basis.

"We still have two proven goalies, Jussi and Ty, who have done it for prolonged periods in the past," said MacTavish. "Ideally I don't think anybody would want three goaltenders, but right now it's certainly the best-case scenario. At some point you have to make a decision. If all three goalies are healthy and Morrison continues to play the way he's played, and Jussi plays the way he's capable of playing, then you have to make a decision. It may get more complex, but right now it's not very."

Right now Morrison is undefeated, has some of the best numbers in the league and was just named NHL player of the week after going 3-0 with a 1.58 GAA and .933 save percentage. Like MacTavish, he'd rather live in the moment that agonize over long-term scenarios.

"I've been here, there and everywhere for the last four years so I realize how quickly the rug can be pulled out from under me," said Morrison, whose stops have included Toronto and Edmonton in the AHL and Columbus and Greenville of the East Coast League. "I'm just going at it like I'm on thin ice and appreciating every minute I've got and not worrying about an hour from now or tomorrow because, let's face it, it, I might not have it."

His two-way contract taught him never to take anything for granted (he was Edmonton's best goalie in training camp, too, and he still got demoted), but the more he wins, the less politics will play a role in his future.

"You just have to keep going after it and have confidence in yourself, and just appreciate what you've got," said Morrison. "We all go through it in life, whether it's hockey or off the ice, we've just got to stay confident and usually things will turn out well."

It's a valuable lesson he learned from late University of Maine coach Shawn Walsh, who died of cancer in Morrison's third year.

"He was hard on me and sometimes I thought he kind of treated me unfairly ... but he always told me, now is not your time, when you're 25, 26, 27, that's when you're going to hit it. At the time I thought he was BS'ing me but he was right. He cared a lot about me. I know he did then and I know even more now. I'm so glad everyone's been able to see this, but he's the one guy I wish was still here to be able to see this.

"He was really good to me. He's the guy who really showed me you have to keep your chin up and keep battling."


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