SUN Hockey Pool

Oilers riding hot hand

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:04 PM ET

MONTREAL -- Jeff Deslauriers makes for a good story, but Dwayne Roloson, the way he's been playing lately, might make for a better result.

So Craig MacTavish says he'll resist the temptation to start the French Canadian goalie against the Montreal Canadiens.

"It's hard to get off Roli right now the way that he's playing," said MacTavish, who's given Roloson 21 consecutive starts. "I'll continue to give it some thought about possibly putting Jeff in (in the future).

"The games are so critical, it's more up to Roli right now; he feels rested and he feels good."

Deslauriers, 3-2, has made just two relief appearances since Nov. 30, but he's collecting dust while Roloson's been the best player on the team by far.

"Jeff's been great and had a terrific attitude through what's been a very pressure-filled year for all of us," said MacTavish. "He's conducted himself excellent."

As for Roloson, someone asked if workloads like the 40-shot avalanche in Toronto will wear him out quicker.

"I'm waiting for the question, do you think all this activity has been beneficial to Roli," said MacTavish.

"It looks to me like it has. He is a guy who is capable, I've seen it before, of keeping his game at the level that it's at for quite some time.

"The activity really seems to have benefited him."

You're fired

Craig MacTavish watched the Canadiens beat Dallas Sunday night and saw a team with a lot of heart.

Just hours before the Canadiens fired Guy Carbonneau, MacTavish was commenting on the passion he saw in their 3-1 decision over Dallas.

"It did us a world of good having them go in there and win that game," said MacTavish, who wanted to see the Stars lose and Montreal vent its energy on somebody else. "We're sitting with the locals and we're all cheering for the same team."

He thought the Habs were going to draw a lot of positives from the hard-fought comeback.

"That game in itself could really be a turning point for that team," he said.

"Once they killed off the five on three in the second it really energized them.

"It's games like that, when everything looks bleak, but you can correct yourself and win a hockey game, that have a way of not only motivating but getting emotional energy out of the team. I think they're going to be really strong (today)."

Who knows how the Habs will react now? But they probably haven't forgotten about losing 7-2 in their recent visit to Edmonton.

Smid's good to go

Ladislav Smid, who lasted 30 seconds Saturday in Toronto before an elbow bloodied his face and mouth and left him dazed, went through a full practice yesterday and declared himself fit for tonight.

"He came through practice fine and said he was fine," explained MacTavish.

"So I'm going to stick with the defence we have rather than call up Theo Peckham."


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