SUN Hockey Pool

It's Roli's win streak

TERRY JONES

, Last Updated: 12:37 PM ET

It was with a dozen minutes left in the second period that the crowd thawed out and began the chant.

"Roli! Roli! Roli!''

That sort of thing doesn't happen often to a goalie in a Canadian city when the home town team is enroute to a 5-1 don't-break-a-sweat win over a struggling already-out-of-contention team.

The Edmonton Oilers were leading the Chicago Blackhawks 3-0 on three bad goals on seven shots which chased Brian Boucher. But the Hawks were outshooting the Oilers 16-8 and Dwayne Roloson was standing on his head, making saves behind a team which looked like it had decided to take up figure skating.

It's not often in a 5-1 win that a goalie ends up as a first star.

"He was definitely the first star in the second period,'' said coach Craig MacTavish.

"And he'd been the first star in the first three at home,'' he said of the seven game home stand.

The Oilers' ran their winning streak to five games with this win.

WINNING STREAK

Make no mistake, it's Roloson's winning streak.

"Our defensive numbers are definitely good. Our penalty kill numbers are good. But our play isn't as good as the numbers indicate because of the way he's playing,'' said MacTavish.

"We're playing OK in front of him but we haven't been as impressive as he's been. He's been spectacular.''

Roli The Goalie, himself, is on a six-game winning streak of his own. He's 7-2-1 in his last 10 games.

The Oilers have now equalled the Anaheim Ducks' league-leading total of 10 wins at home. Which had nothing to do with the chant at the end of the game with the Ducks here Tuesday.

"Pronger Sucks!''

For the next few days Pronger will be the story. For the moment it's Roloson.

The 10-2 start at Rexall Place is a testimonial to Roloson as well.

Roloson has played all but three Oiler games and came out of last night's game with a 12-6-1 record, with a 2.24 goals against average and a .926 save percentage.

He's in the top three in wins, and the top half dozen in goals against average and save percentage.

"Everything feels great,'' said Roloson after he'd peeled off his pads.

"But you never want to get comfortable.''

It makes a whole lot of difference having a goaltender with one of the best save percentages in the entire league instead of the .884 and .880 of the two guys in goal last year before Roloson came to town to take Edmonton to the Stanley Cup final.

You can tell when Roloson has his game going when he displays his cricket paddle move by batting one over the heads of everybody to centre ice. In the third he lobbed another one out to the red line.

"There are certain times for that,'' he said of his patented play in the second period.

MOMENTUM SHIFT

"In the second period we pulled back a bit. They were attacking pretty strong at that point.

"If I eat it there, they still have the momentum. To get it out of there like that takes away some of that momentum.''

With the win, the Oilers also kept pace with the Minnesota Wild with identical records of 13-8-1 atop the NHL's Northwest Division.

Roloson's Minnesota Wild.

For years he languished in near obscurity as the back-up netminder in the Twin Cities.

The Oilers have yet to play the Wild, the team which finally made him available facing free agency at the trade deadline.

This is getting interesting from that point of view. Very interesting.

"It is,'' said Roloson.

"But it's all out of my control.''

Say what?

Right now he's very much in control.


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