SUN Hockey Pool

Roli's ready, so quit asking about his knee

Edmonton Oilers Dwayne Roloson. (SUN/Jason Franson)

Edmonton Oilers Dwayne Roloson. (SUN/Jason Franson)

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:44 AM ET

GRANDE PRAIRIE -- Dwayne Roloson's right knee is fine.

Roloson's delivery of an ankle hack - applied to Zach Stortini after the rookie mowed him down during yesterday's scrimmage between Team Red and Team Blue - however, needs some work.

Questionable lumberjack form aside, the bottom line is Roloson survived his brush with the 216-pound Stortini and bounced up looking for payback instead of crumpling to the ice.

At a moment when coach Craig MacTavish might have seen the season passing before his eyes, Roloson, knocked out for the count in the first game of last spring's Stanley Cup final against Carolina, showed he'll be ready to go when the puck drops Oct. 5.

Roli's ready to rumble.

"Those things are going to happen," smiled Roloson. "It was a good test. There was no tweaking, no anything.

"When we were first doing the rehab on my knee, Dave (Dr. Dave Magee) told me that if the knee tweaks, it's a good thing as long as the pain goes away right away. It's good to get a little tweak here or there."

Roloson, 36, had fashioned a Conn Smythe Trophy bid when he suffered a third-degree spring of the MCL after Marc-Andre Bergeron rode Andrew Ladd into him against the Hurricanes in Game 1 of the Cup final in Carolina. He didn't get up.

Yesterday, he did. First hacking Stortini, who knocked him on his pants cutting in front of the net, and later facing reporters to pronounce his knee sound. End of story.

"It's in the past now. It's done," Roloson said. "We've got to answer the questions today, but for me, it's out of my mind. I just go out and play now. It's 100%. The pain's not there. There isn't anything there. There's nothing to get into your head."

Too often overmatched between the pipes last season after starting the campaign with Ty Conklin, Mike Morrison and Jussi Markkanen, MacTavish isn't shy about talking about the importance of having Roloson ready to go right out of the blocks this time around.

"I don't think it's any secret he was the best goalie in the playoffs last year from start to finish," MacTavish said. "It's too bad the finish was a little premature.

"I guess it's a simple lesson, but maybe you forget it at times. There isn't a lot of success to be had without that level of a goaltender. You don't get away with a lot of mistakes without that quality of a goaltender."

Say what you want about the loss of Chris Pronger, his presence wasn't enough to make up for goaltending that wasn't good enough until Roloson arrived from Minnesota at the trade deadline.

With Roloson, the Oilers have the stopper they need to compete in a conference stacked in goal - Roberto Luongo in Vancouver, Miikka Kiprusoff in Calgary, Tomas Vokoun in Nashville, Vesa Toskala in San Jose and Dominik Hasek in Detroit.

"Look at our conference," MacTavish said. "You've got a former MVP (Jose Theodore) in Colorado. You've got (Manny) Fernandez in Minnesota. You've got arguably the two so-called best in Kiprusoff and Luongo.

"You can't win a lot of games if you get outplayed in that position. It's the most important positional matchup in the game. To have Roli there is a real relief."

While Roloson, his knee sound and a new three-year, $11-million contract in place, won't play in Winnipeg tomorrow - Devan Dubnyk and Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers will split duties - he's itching to get going.

"It's nice to be rewarded, but at the same time I can't sit back," Roloson said.

"I've got to start working and get ready to play again.

"It's nice to get out here and start training camp with a fresh, new look. It's always nice to look forward to the season."


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