Deslauriers all over the map

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI

, Last Updated: 8:32 AM ET

DALLAS -- Either ice cold or red hot, Jeff Deslauriers is fast becoming a bi-polar goaler.

There hasn't been much middle ground for the introspective rookie, who has spent most of this season pressed against either side of the spectrum.

In his last seven games he's been all over the board

- Three goals on six shots in one game.

- Four goals in nine shots the next.

- A 36-save shutout win.

- Four goals in eight minutes and a hook in Vancouver.

- And a 27-save, 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings Thursday night.

They call him JD, but he'd rather the J didn't start for Jekyll.

"As a goalie you want to be constant, you want your team to know what you're able to give every night," said Deslauriers, who isn't there yet, but if his play ever catches up to his work ethic and commitment, look out.

"Vancouver was a tough game for me. I wasn't happy about what I delivered. But that's hockey. We had three days to refocus, work with the goaltender coach, get back to the basics. And the guys in front helped me win that game."

Deslauriers, thrust into the starter's role while Nikolai Khabibulin tries to come to some sort of arrangement with his cranky back, is 4-4-2 in 10 games this year with a 2.81 GAA and .908 save percentage.

Decent numbers, but the yo-yo business has to stop.

"It was the first time I got pulled in the NHL," he said of the Vancouver debacle. "It's hard, but you learn from your mistakes.

"Obviously you don't want to make mistakes, you want to learn from the good things, but sometimes you have to learn the hard way. The Vancouver game was a learning process for me."

Some goalies look for excuses or other people to blame, but Deslauriers is conscientious to a fault. Bad games and goals seem to eat away at him.

Nobody expects him to develop a Grant Fuhr-like ability to forget about a bad goal before he's even fished the puck out of the crease, but they'd like to see him ease up on himself.

Just relax and play goal.

"He had a tough outing in Vancouver, and maybe it started with that goal against the Kings that cost us a game," said head coach Pat Quinn, flashing back to Matt Greene's long-distance winner. "I don't want to finger point him, at all, but it wasn't a good strong goal that went in and we lose a game.

"He was more affected than anyone else by it. Late against San Jose, again, he was fishing around for the puck and missed the play and all of a sudden we lose a point out of that deal.

"He took it hard on his shoulders. What you try to do is say look, just concentrate on playing your position.

"He's shown that he's got some skill and has the potential to be a really good player. It is the mental battle that you face all the time, especially as a goaltender."

ROBERT.TYCHKOWSKI@SUNMEDIA.CA


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