SUN Hockey Pool

Mathieu says 'merci'

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:19 AM ET

SAN JOSE -- As grateful as the Edmonton Oilers are to have Mathieu Garon, they should know that the feeling is mutual.

The 30-year-old goalie, who endured bad teams and bad luck in Montreal and Los Angeles, is grateful the Oilers are giving him all he's ever wanted -- a chance.

"I always knew I could do it," he said. "But until you prove it, you can't really tell. I've done it in the minors, but in the NHL I didn't really have a chance.

"I feel I'm getting that chance right now and I don't want to lose it."

The chance wasn't a gift. Garon earned the starting job with standout performance after standout performance.

He's been stealing games the Oilers had no business winning (like Tuesday's 4-2 decision over Minnesota), and he's kept their season alive with the best shootout record in the NHL (stopping 24 of 26 shots).

And in the wholly unscientific category of number of times named one of the three stars in a game, he's second in the NHL, behind Pascal Leclair of Columbus and ahead of Vancouver's Roberto Luongo and Washington's Alexander Ovechkin.

"I'm feeling great," said Garon, as easygoing a goalie as you'll find in the league. "I've felt the same way the whole season. It's good for me, because I wanted to be consistent.

"Sometimes you can play good for two or three games and be average for the rest. I think I've been the same the whole year. Consistency for a No. 1 goalie is the main thing. I feel like I have it right now."

Being a No.1 is something he's wanted his whole career. But he got parked behind Jose Theodore in Montreal and then went to a bad Los Angeles team. Injuries and bad timing left him on the bench instead of in the crease.

He put up a winning record (31-26-3) on a brutal Kings team two years ago, but they didn't have enough confidence to keep him on as a starter.

Enter the Oilers, who jumped at the chance to bring him to Edmonton.

"That's how it is," said Garon, who holds no ill will towards the Kings.

"When you've never proved yourself in the league, there aren't many people who believe in you.

"I'm so glad this team believed in me. I'm glad they believed in me and gave me a chance. I knew they had confidence in me, just from the way they approached me and wanted me on the team. I was expecting good things and it happened."

Sooner, perhaps, than even he expected.

"I didn't expect to play this many games. I knew I would get a chance, but maybe not as big a chance as I'm getting right now. I'm just happy."


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