SUN Hockey Pool

Oilers surviving on kindness of goaltender

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:09 AM ET

Hang this one on Dwayne Roloson?

Or did the Oilers hang the guy out to dry?

That was the question the media was waiting to ask as they were held outside the dressing room much longer than the NHL access rules specify.

Craig MacTavish's answer was obvious the second the dressing room door opened.

Every member of the team was sitting in their stall with most of their equipment still on. It's been a while since we've seen that here.

Roloson, who gave up five goals on his first 11 shots and was given the hook when the sixth one went in before the midway mark of the second period in a 7-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche, didn't serve himself up in the blame game.

"You can't blame it on one person,'' he said.

"You have to battle for each other and bail each other out.

"You take it and use it as a learning experience. Our whole team just didn't play our game."

TURN FOR WORSE

In a personal six-game winning streak. Roloson had a 1.48 goals against average and a .950 save percentage. But giving up a game-equalizing goal with 17 seconds to go against Anaheim and another in overtime, Roloson's statistics and his team's play have taken a sudden turn for the worse.

The disturbing thing about this game wasn't Roloson's game in goal. It was a failure to compete.

That's a label you can't often hang on Craig MacTavish's Edmonton Oiler hockey teams. But that's why it all came unraveled last night.

Failure to compete?

"That's it right there," said Ryan Smyth, who scored his 250th career goal this night.

"A lack of effort is seldom something that happens with this team, but there was a lack of effort tonight. In a division game like this, especially here at home, it was unacceptable."

That's the thing about what happened last night. Having a stinker every once in a while comes with an 82-game schedule.

But was that if there was one game to focus on winning this entire week, this was it.

Sure the media and fans focus was on Chris Pronger's return. But this was the four point game.

The division games, especially in the NHL's Northwest Division, are going to decide playoff positions and positioning.

The Oilers, last night, had a great chance to go three points up on Minnesota and put themselves six points up on Colorado.

They left the rink only two points up on the Avs. That's why they call them four point games.

"We need more accountability. That was an awful game, especially in the first period," said Shawn Horcoff.

But it was MacTavish, as you'd figure, who had the strongest words.

"It was an upsetting game from a lot of standpoints, especially early," he said.

"We were cutting a lot of corners in a lot of tough areas. Our checking in the neutral zone was lacklustre, casual and lazy."

'COMPLACENCY'

MacTavish said he could see this coming during the Oilers' five-game winning streak.

"Complacency was setting in," he said.

"We started the game tonight the way we finished the Anaheim game," he continued.

"You could see it after the first period against Anaheim. We got away with it to a certain extent."

MacTavish refused to use the loss of Ales Hemsky as a factor.

"That doesn't have anything to do with this. If we'd played hard and played well and it wasn't good enough because we didn't have enough offence, that would be different.

"But to have a collective effort like that, any Hall of Famer wouldn't have helped you."

The bottom line is if you want to hang this on Roloson, fine. He has one coming. But with the rest of the Oilers, you could see this one coming.


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