SUN Hockey Pool

Deslauriers rarin' to go

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:17 PM ET

DENVER -- Jeff Deslauriers is still waiting his turn.

Expected to spell off starter Nikolai Khabibulin once every five or six games heading into the season, the Edmonton Oilers backup goaltender should find his way into the net at some point during the team's current five-game road trip.

It's a good bet he'll get at least one of the legs in the pair of back-to-back encounters featured on the trip.

"That's something I don't have control over," Deslauriers said.

"Obviously I want to be part of more games. There is no question that I want to be a factor with the team, I want to contribute and I want to show what I'm capable of doing."

Deslauriers has played in just two of the Oilers' first 16 games this season.

He was outstanding in a 6-1 win over the Nashville Predators in October, turning aside 40 shots but then dropped a 4-3 decision to the Vancouver Canucks a couple of weeks ago.

Apart from that, the only action he's seen has come in practice, where he has to work hard in order to stay sharp.

"I got very good practice doing that from last year," Deslauriers said. "I went 56 games between starts, so I think I can handle that pretty well. I don't want to go back to that; I'm here and I want to be a factor on this team. I'm ready and I believe I can play at least 20 games in this league.

"But I can't really worry about that, my job is to show the coach that I'm capable of doing that."

So far, goaltending has been one of the few issues not plaguing the Oilers this season. Khabibulin has been strong, keeping his team in games they otherwise have very little business being in.

Heading into their contest against the Colorado Avalanche tonight, the Oilers have outshot their opponents just once this season.

When he gets the call, Deslauriers is expected to maintain the high level of goaltending.

"Every day I have to prove myself that I can do the job," Deslauriers said. "I obviously wish I was playing more games, but that's not the case right now.

"I have to continue to keep my head up, work hard in practice and show them I'm able to get the job done when the time comes. And when the time comes, I'm going to have to be on top of my game so they can hopefully give me a start sooner next time."


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