SUN Hockey Pool

Deslauriers' stock is rising

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:09 PM ET

TAMPA BAY - People have stopped asking when Nikolai Khabibulin is coming back.

That’s what a few strong performances does for a guy’s stock and Jeff Deslauriers has really upped his on the strength of these last three wins.

He stopped 93 of his last 98 shots and beat Marty Turco and Tomas Vokoun in back-to-back shootouts. He’s in a much better place now than a couple of weeks ago, when he couldn’t get out of the first 10 minutes without giving up three goals.

“I just have to keep it simple, don’t over-handle the puck and don’t over-think the game,” he said. “Just be in the right place at the right time. Be in control.”

His puck handling needs some work. He cost Edmonton a goal with a turnover in Florida and has turned a few other possessions into adventures, But he’s working on that, too.

“I try to keep it simple, but sometimes the other guy makes a good move or gets pressure on you,” said Deslauriers. “Sometimes you make a great play, sometimes you make an OK play and sometimes you make a poor play. When you know you’ve made a poor play you just have to battle back and not let that poor play end up in your goal.”

Another member of Edmonton’s French Connection is making a big impact on the trip. Literally.

JF Jacques had two huge plays in the win over Florida, though neither appeared on the scoresheet. First he laid out Bryan Allen with a crushing hit behind the net, then saved a goal in the third period when he scooped a puck out of Edmonton’s crease before a couple of Panthers could bang it in.

“Pay attenton to what he does to win hockey games,” said head coach Pat Quinn, who loves the intangibles the 6-foot-4, 217-pound winger adds to the team. “That’s what we expect from him nightly. He’s had some big hits for us and believe me that registers not only with our bench but with theirs as well.”

The Oilers have only scored eight goals in three games on this trip, which isn’t great, but they’ve had six different goal scorers, which represents a significant step forward for the offence.

“We’re having more than one line to look to to carry the load,” said Quinn. “In Detroit they played their best line against Shawn Horcoff like they would in the past (when he was centering the first line).

“We’re not scoring a lot yet, but we’re getting a little contribution offensively from different guys.”

Two of Horcoff’s three goals on the trip came in the shootout, so they don’t really show up anywhere but the win-loss column.

“I’ve actually felt really good the last three or four games,” he said. “I had a lot of chances, it’s nice to get a little bounce.”


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