SUN Hockey Pool

Roloson too legit to quit

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:46 AM ET

DENVER -- His birth certificate may read 39, but in hockey years Dwayne Roloson is a lot younger than that.

Considering he had never played more than 50 games in a season until joining the Edmonton Oilers, the veteran goaltender has plenty left in the tank.

"I think mentally and physically coming in later as a goalie is beneficial," Roloson said. "Knowing what you have to do to be able to take care of your body and mentally take care of your mind, so you don't get worn down or break down as quickly or as easily as a younger guy coming in might.

"Hockey-wise, it's pretty hard to put an age on that, but I feel like I'm just 23, 24, hanging out, having a good time."

Roloson is the main reason the Oilers are battling for a playoff spot. He's been the team's best player for months and tonight will make his 26th consecutive start as the Oilers commence a three-game road trip in Colorado against the Avalanche.

"That could be it, I don't know," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "But he's playing very well for us, obviously. He does play his best when he's playing lots.

"We got him at the deadline (2006) and he played virtually every game and that was through the playoff run as well. That was three months straight and now we've been going for two months with him."

In Tuesday's 2-1 win over the St. Louis Blues, Roloson made 31 saves, then turned aside all three shooters in the shootout. His best save came late in regulation on former Oiler Brad Winchester who was left all alone in the slot by defenceman Ladislav Smid.

Roloson read the play and was able to get his arm on the shot headed for the top corner.

"It was a language barrier where English was being spoken by Roli and Czech being understood by Ladi, where reverse means the opposite way," smiled Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "That was a big breakdown in communication and was a great save. I thought about Marty (Reasoner) and then when I was driving home I thought about Raffi (Torres). Having Winchester score would have been a little too much."

Both Torres and Reasoner, former Oilers, have scored game winners for their respective teams against Edmonton this season.

The save on Winchester allowed the Oilers to push the game into overtime, where unlike the three previous occasions they were able to get into the shootout.

Only David Backes scored for the Blues on the night, although there was a hairy moment when Roloson was caught at the blue-line trying to clear a puck in the first period.

"It would have been a great play had it not hit a piece of the stick the guy was holding in his hands," joked Roloson.

"I was way out. At that point I was just trying to get the puck out of the zone. But if I make the play too early, the guy is out of the zone and he can just get the puck and shoot it into an empty net.

"I had to wait until he got in the zone and unfortunately it hit the shaft of his stick."

Roloson was bailed out by defenceman Steve Staios on the play.

The Oilers goaltender was asked what was going through his mind being caught out by the blue-line.

"I don't think you can print that," he smiled.

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TIRED YET?

Oilers goalie Dwayne Roloson has now started 25 straight games, a stretch which spans back to a 6-3 win over Phoenix on Jan. 18, the day after Edmonton traded Mathieu Garon to Pittsburgh.


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