SUN Hockey Pool

Push, pull or drag

TERRYJONES

, Last Updated: 6:52 AM ET

The Edmonton Oilers annual roller-coaster ride has turned into the 'Drop of Doom.'

It's not a post-season push anymore, it's a post-season drag.

If the Oilers had ended up with what they deserved in Anaheim the other night instead of Dwayne Roloson's miracle 51-save win, it would be five-straight losses down the homestretch for the team that is supposed to specialize in these sort of end-of-season great-race-to-save-face situations.

But there has been nothing special about this one as the Oilers have dropped to 10th place.

And the crying shame was that the loss last night was that the guy you most had to hang it on was the guy who is the only reason they still have a pulse.

What Roli The Goalie gives, he takes away?

TWO SOFT ONES

Roloson gave up two soft ones early by over-committing and leaving Andrew Brunette alone to backhand one into an open net and a second even more ghastly goal when Martin Skoula, a step inside the blue line, lofted a soft shot that found the five-hole between Roloson's legs.

"It was my fault that we lost tonight. It's pretty much my fault, isn't it? Two bad goals. You don't let those two bad goals in and you win the game," Roloson said.

"I have to do my job and stop the puck. If I did that tonight we would have won. Case closed. I didn't play well enough to win."

Right. And wrong. Real wrong.

It's pure folly to blame any loss on Roloson at this stage of proceedings.

This would be over by now if not for the one who pulled off perhaps the two greatest heists of the season when you put the 51-save game in Anaheim and the 43-save game in San Jose together.

Last night was an Oiler record 32nd consecutive game for the guy they couldn't give away at the start of the season - a guy who has changed the question for the about-to-be-free-agent from being 'Do they want to sign him?' to 'Will they be able to sign him?'

This is a guy who didn't bring his family to Edmonton this season because it didn't look like he was going to be around more than a month or two. Now he may be the only hope they have left.

And to have the number of passengers they had last night - more passengers than players - especially the game after Roloson was beyond brilliant in Anaheim, was an insult with what he's been doing here while they throw snow in front of him.

'GOALS FOR ROLI'

"We have to win that game for him," said captain Ethan Moreau. "That was a night we needed to get goals for Roli and we weren't able to do it."

Sam Gagner said it was criminal not to respond.

"Obviously he just won a game for us in Anaheim and he gave up a couple tonight and we didn't go and get them back for him. We have to start giving him games where he doesn't have to stand on his head."

This was supposed to be where the Oilers put their playoff spot away with six of their last seven at home.

But after that loss, it's now five wins in their last 14 home games.

Even more so than leaving Roloson wearing goat horns in goal, was the total lack of urgency and desperation for each other until maybe the last four or five minutes.

It's appalling the number of guys who looked like they had hearts the size of peas last night.

"Too many guys were too content to be a non-factor," said head coach Craig MacTavish.

"Too many guys are too content to be a non-factor rather than be a factor and step up and be assertive in a game you desperately need. With six games left we were still looking for a team that will take charge of an opportunity.

'GRAB THE GAME'

"At no point during this year have we exhibited the ability to grab the game within the game. When bad things happen you have to take charge of the game and we just haven't had that ability all year. Some guys were just downright bad and played poorly.

"And we won't shoot the puck. Why? I don't know why we won't shoot the puck. Everybody is yelling, 'Shoot!'

But we won't shoot. I don't know why.

"There was not the level of urgency that we needed in that hockey game collectively."

If Roloson can't pick himself up and stand on his head for six more games, and these guys can't find the urgency and intensity to stop the 'Drop of Doom,' in the next 48 hours, all hope will have left the room.

TERRY.JONES@SUNMEDIA.CA


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