Dangerous game for Oilers

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:26 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- With all the zits on the Edmonton Oilers game, it's a good thing Dwayne Roloson has that leather jacket, pilfered from John Travolta's Saturday Night Fever wardrobe, with which to cover them up.

Roloson, who donned the duds - awarded to the player judged by teammates to be the team's top performer - after stiffing Colorado with 39 saves in a 4-3 win Saturday, might have to get the jacket fitted, despite a 3-1 start to the season as they face the Vancouver Canucks tonight.

With Roloson and Ryan Smyth leading the way, the Oilers have pulled a couple of fast ones - they got away with one in a 6-4 win over San Jose Thursday and they had no business getting out of Denver with two points.

Thursday, the Oilers escaped a parade to the penalty box - San Jose scored three goals on 10 power-play tries - thanks to Smyth's hat-trick. Saturday, the Oilers stayed out of the box, but couldn't get their legs under them as the Avs blitzed Roloson for 40 minutes before they won it on Petr Sykora's soft goal against Jose Theodore.

They could be 1-3.

"We're getting lucky breaks right now," said Smyth. "It's working, but if other teams capitalize on chances, we're going to be in trouble."

You know expectations have changed when wins get critiqued. It's not like the Oilers should give the points back. That said, they've not come close to putting together a complete performance - their best effort was opening night against Calgary.

SINS ARE HIDDEN

Roloson, Smyth, who scored two goals in Denver on a night the Avs had a 33-18 lead in shots after 40 minutes, and timely scoring in the three games since have hidden a multitude of sins.

"As far as discipline, we clamped down on that (in Denver)," Smyth said. "But we didn't have our legs. There's no excuses. We've just got to come out and play.

"I thought the Calgary game at home, we played one of our better games. A few lapses, but, by-and-large, we played well as a group. In Calgary, it was a battle. The last two games, we got lucky."

Coach Craig MacTavish isn't going to be too quick to criticize a 3-1 start. After all, it beats the old college try and a 1-3 start, especially against teams in the competitive Western Conference.

"We've been down that road many times before, where we've played well and lost games," counters MacTavish. "We haven't in the past won a lot of those games that we won (Saturday). We get an opportunity to put the puck in the back of the net and we've been doing it.

"We're not the same team we were three years ago, where we'd throw everything but the kitchen sink at the forecheck and to the net and hope we get a goal or two.

"We're way more proficient in the offensive part of it. It's going to be a different look."

REASON TO NITPICK

Fair enough, but until the Oilers put all the pieces together, there's reason to nit-pick. And it wouldn't hurt if Shawn Horcoff, Raffi Torres and Fernando Pisani got going. Joffrey Lupul, despite his two goals and a better performance in Denver, hasn't been a world-beater either.

"We're winning, so it's four points in the bag right now," Smyth said. "We've got to be well aware it could have been the other way."

If the Oilers fail to figure that out, Roloson will be parading around in that jacket a lot. That's a fashion statement best passed around.


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