SUN Hockey Pool

Roli with it!

Dwayne Roloson. (DARRYL DYCK, Sun file photo)

Dwayne Roloson. (DARRYL DYCK, Sun file photo)

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:59 AM ET

Love you. Or loathe you.

Edmonton, when it comes to goalies and quarterbacks in particular, is pretty much a black and white type of town.

So far Dwayne Roloson has managed to stay grey. Which is to say the jury is still out on the guy who has a record of 6-5-3, a goals-against average of 2.65 and a save percentage of .899 since he became an Oiler.

But let's turn the picture around here.

How does Roli The Goalie feel about you? Where's his own jury at?

"Hey, I've been treated fine. I know the way it is. One day you're the hero. The next day you're the goat. Deal with it. Go to the next game and try to keep an even keel. Try not to worry about anything.''

Roloson drove to the airport yesterday and put his wife Melissa and sons Brett, five, and Ross, three, on a plane to Minnesota. He'll fly there on the team charter this morning.

He had his family here to watch him shut out Los Angeles, give up four to the Calgary Flames and one to Phoenix.

"It was good. They liked it. The kids had fun,'' he said.

They saw his picture on the front of the Sun sports pullout heralding his first shutout with the team. And the boos his family heard in the Calgary game were pretty much aimed at everybody in an Oiler uniform, not the guy in goal.

ROAD TRIP

His family will get to watch him again tomorrow in Minnesota as he starts a three-games-in-four-days run through to Chicago and St. Louis in a road trip which concludes in Detroit.

Roloson said he's ready for the test.

"It's huge,'' he says of the three games against out-of-the-playoff teams which will go a long way to determining the final fate of his new teammates.

"Minnesota has had Edmonton's number all year. It used to be the other way. Edmonton used to own Minnesota. It'd be nice to get a win there to really get it rolling.''

But Roloson, who has won one and lost two against his old team since the deadline deal, said, "this time it's not personal - it's about the team and winning and getting into the playoffs.''

As a backup, he was within Brett Hull's controversial goal of a Stanley Cup ring with the Buffalo Sabres and was the star of a second-round series against Vancouver as Minnesota went three rounds in 2003.

"I've had a taste of the playoffs and that's what I want.''

When he came to the Oilers at the trade deadline, Roloson had a horrendous 6-17-2 record with a so-so 3.00 goals against average and a solid .910 save percentage. He's already matched his Minnesota wins here, brought down his goals-against average by a healthy 0.45 and is only .011 off on his improving save percentage.

He played 24 games with the Wild this season. He'll play his 15th game as an Oiler tomorrow.

'A LOT EASIER'

"I've always found it a lot easier to play all the time. It's hard to explain because there's a lot of pressure, especially in this situation. But it's not the pressure of having to do well or you're not going to go back in for a while. And it's not the pressure of not having been in there for so long that you've kinda lost your comfort level.''

He says if the average Edmonton fan figures he had a shaky start and is now looking like he's settling into it, that would be fair.

"It's like I told some of the guys. When I came here, I'd played three games since Jan. 1. I had a little bit of rust to get rid of. I told some of the guys 'I've got to knock some of the rust off here.' I think I've done that now. I'm a little quicker.

"I'm still adjusting. It's a different system. There just hasn't been time to practise, we've been playing so much. And this team blocks a lot of shots. In Minnesota the defence didn't really block many shots. That's probably the biggest adjustment. I'm telling the defencemen to get out of my way. We're still learning to get used to each other and thinking the same way.''

Roloson says he understands how the jury may be out with Edmonton but he certainly doesn't feel that way with his teammates.

"They've been awesome. There are a great bunch of guys in that locker-room. I don't think I could have walked into a better room. I'm really happy to be here. This is a great opportunity in a great hockey town with a great hockey tradition.''

Roloson, as he leaves town with the team, has a message for the Edmonton fans who are still sitting on the fence about him and, now that you mention it, the rest of them.

"Stay with us. Once we get in there, it's going to be a lot of fun.''


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