SUN Hockey Pool

Roloson goes on a roll

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:56 AM ET

PHILADELPHIA -- Mathieu Garon is still the goalie of Edmonton's future.

He's the guy they need to see in undisputed No. 1 form and he's the guy they want to sign to a contract extension, but in the here and now, Dwayne Roloson is saving this team's season.

What started out as an uncomfortable goaltending situation in training camp has come back to bail them out of a potentially fatal slide.

"I didn't think it was out of the realm of possibility (that Roloson would make a strong case to get his starting job back)," said head coach Craig MacTavish. "You always want to play your best goalie. It's a performance-based business, as I've said before, and if you outplay the other guy you're going to get the lion's share of the starts.

"Mathieu will come on and play well, but it's nice to see Roli step up at a really crucial stage for us and give us some great goaltending."

While Garon isn't in the same space he was last season (he's currently on a three-game losing streak, allowing 13 goals in that span, and owns a 3.18 GAA and .895 save percentage) Roloson has suddenly become the go-to guy for Edmonton.

He's played three of the Oilers' last four games, winning twice and losing the other 1-0 in overtime.

"He's been sharp,"said MacTavish. "Hopefully he can continue to play at this level. I was a little worried after the fourth goal (in Philly, when he whiffed on a cover-up). I was wondering how he was going to react.

"He just got better. That's a great sign that a goalie is starting to get on top of his game. Something bad happens and instead of retreating you get better."

The season began with everyone wondering how the Oilers were ever going to get rid of Roloson and his $3 million salary ($3.6 million cap hit). Now, for the time being, anyway, they're glad they didn't.

"I love it," MacTavish said of the healthy competition between his goalies. "Play better (and you start). It's great. We just want high performance out of that position because you know that if you don't get it you're in tough."

A few more games like this and he won't be as difficult to deal as he was just a few weeks ago. But it would be a pretty high-risk move to do it before Garon gets his groove back.

Either way, Roloson is glad to see his stock on the rise after the terrible plunge it took last season when he lost his job to Garon.

"That situation is always tough," he said. "At the same time you can't put yourself in front of anybody else. You're here as a team and in that situation you put the team first. Try to capitalize on the times you get to go in there.

"Hopefully when you go in there you play well enough that you get another shot. That's all I'm trying to do right now."

Roloson is clearly more relaxed about his situation now. With his contract up at the end of this season and a potential trade looming before that, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for him.

"I think last year I put a lot more pressure on myself, especially early when we weren't scoring," he said.

"I was trying to do way too much. As a goalie, when you do that, pucks end up going in."

As for the third man in - Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers - until all of this gets sorted out he just has to get comfortable in the press box, work hard in practice and be thankful he's making $550,000 to go on a tour of NHL cities.


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