SUN Hockey Pool

Patience about to pay off

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:05 AM ET

CHICAGO -- Like a guy patiently waiting in line at a deli, Dwayne Roloson's number is due to be called soon.

It's been nearly seven months since the Edmonton Oilers goaltender has played in a meaningful contest, and over three weeks since seeing game action of any kind.

However, that's expected to change, perhaps as early as tonight when the Oilers take on the Chicago Blackhawks in the first of a three-game road trip.

"I'm anxious to see Roli in there and that will be pretty soon," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "He's played very well and we all know what Roli's capable off. I'm still holding out hope that Roli will get back to the form he had when he took us to a win from the Stanley Cup. So far, he's played well."

Roloson, 39, has gone from undisputed starter to rotating backup in the span of less than a year.

It's not as though his game has gone south. He proved late last season he is still capable of coming up with spectacular performances. They're still shaking their heads over the heist he pulled in San Jose last season.

But Mathieu Garon has been awarded the starting job this season, and Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers can't be sent down to the minors without the risk of losing him.

Therefore, the three goaltender system employed by the Oilers has severely limited the ice time available.

"The most important part of this is being patient," Roloson said. "Realistically, it's out of my control. It's up to Mac who plays, so whatever he says goes. At this point, I have to make sure I'm ready to go whenever he tells me when to go.

"I've been through this once before. My first year we had Rick Tabaracci and Trevor Kidd in Calgary, and I was the third guy. Being in that situation when I was younger makes it a little bit easier to handle this time around. But at the same time, it's out of my control, except when I get the opportunity to play, you play."

Roloson started two preseason games for the Oilers.

He and the Oilers fell 2-1 in Vancouver to the Canucks and was hung out to dry in a 4-0 loss to the Calgary Flames.

Regardless, the Simcoe, Ont., native who is in the final year of a three-year contract, came into camp in great shape, ready to take on any role the team gives him.

"He's had a terrific attitude," MacTavish said. "As I said at the start of the year, there are going to be different pressure points for each one of these goalies. There are going to be difficult situations to handle at times, but so far, it's been so good. It's all fresh right now, they all know that they are going to get an opportunity and they've done a great job handling what can be an untenable situation."

Currently the plan is to give Garon 50-60 of the starts this season.

The rest are to be divided up between Roloson and Drouin-Deslauriers.

However, it could all change as it did last year when Roloson was touted to garner the majority of the work.

Regardless, despite it being an awkward situation carrying three goalies, the Oilers prefer it to the situation they were in three seasons ago when they made the run to the Stanley Cup final. They had three goaltenders then, who all struggled, prompting the Oilers to go out and acquire Roloson from the Minnesota Wild.

"The way Mathieu's played, I can't think of too many teams that have had better goaltending to this point," MacTavish said. "We still talk about the (goaltending) situation, but it's been a positive part of our team game so far.

"Roli's come in, in really good shape and he's ready to go. He's a pro, he knows the situation and he's going to do everything he can to get himself as many games as possible. There is only one way to do that, which is get in the net and play well."


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