SUN Hockey Pool

It's about Conks & confidence

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

There's nothing Ty Conklin can do against the Dallas Stars tonight to keep Edmonton Oilers GM Kevin Lowe from working the phones in a determined bid to land a goalie by Thursday's NHL trade deadline.

All Conklin, who'll face Dallas with back-to-back wins on his record for the first time since late December, can do, is stop pucks, try to regain the form that's escaped him for much of the season, and help the Oilers secure a Western Conference playoff spot.

With 3-2 victories over San Jose and Nashville in the books, Conklin looks capable of doing that for the first time in a long time - since he won seven of his last 10 starts during a spirited but failed stretch drive bid to land a post-season berth in 2003-04.

As for the rest, that's up to the boss.

"You get to a point where you realize it's a waste of energy worrying about it," Conklin said.

"Whatever is going to happen will happen in the next couple of days. If not, that's good. There's nothing I can do about it. If a change is made, it's made. That's not something I can control."

A MIGHTY STRUGGLE

Conklin, 29, has taken more manure than a blue-ribbon mushroom most of the season - most of it warranted - in what's been a mighty struggle since training camp. His turmoil, including two stints in the minors, and being put on waivers with no takers, has been well documented.

But he'll face the Stars tonight with at least some semblance of confidence after making 19 saves to beat the Sharks and 18 to better the Predators and improve to 7-5-1.

"I really haven't felt like my confidence was low during this whole thing," Conklin said.

"When you're not playing, it's tough, but the way this year has gone I'll take any good play I can get. These big games, it's easier to get your confidence going. Obviously, now is crunch time."

While Lowe looks for a bona fide starter - talk of his pursuit of Curtis Joseph of Phoenix persists and speculation about interest in Martin Biron of Buffalo continues - Conklin's performances of late have provided the Oilers with a chance to win.

That's all a coach or team can ask.

"He's played well that last couple of games. We're going to keep him going," coach Craig MacTavish said.

"The team played pretty well in front of him. Like any goalie who hasn't played in awhile, he's looking to get a finger hold on confidence. Ty is a very confident guy. He was able to get that finger hold on confidence and now he's starting to put a framework around it and really build something off that.

GOOD GOALTENDING MEANS WINS

"Hopefully, he can continue to deliver the goods. As I've said before, one thing that's remained constant almost from the first game of the regular season until now is that if we get goaltending and we square off, at least, in that position, we win hockey games."

Conklin, like Mike Morrison and Jussi Markkanen, knows criticism goes with the gig in the four-by-six, especially when a team has an overall save percentage of .878, which ranks dead-last in the NHL.

Nobody, Conklin included, is trying to suggest straight-faced the last two outings make up for a number like that or mitigate the need for an upgrade between the pipes, but that's Lowe's job.

"I think I'm heading the right way," Conklin said. "I feel comfortable in the net.

"I felt solid the last two games."

TICKET WINDOW: The Oilers are making a limited number of season tickets for 2006-07 available now that will entitle fans to receive priority for playoff tickets this season. Packages can be secured by non-refundable deposit. For more information phone 414-GOAL.


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