Dwayne Roloson: starts in goal tonight
We're all familiar with the story - Dwayne Roloson is acquired from our NW division rival, the Minnesota Wild in return for a 1st round pick (Trevor Lewis, LA) and a 3rd round pick (Michael Forney?, ATL) which were pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that helped Minnesota acquire Pavol Demitra that following draft.
Dwayne Roloson then went on to play 19 games for the Oilers, going 8-7 with a 2.42 GAA and a .905 SV%. Decent numbers. But people were shocked that Edmonton had give up so much to a NW division rival to acquire what they thought was a questionalbe #1. Boy were they wrong.
In the playoffs, the Oilers, with the stellar goaltending of Roloson, knocked off one giant at a time. First it was omnipotent Detroit Red Wings. Then it was the come-from-behind thrashing of the San Jose Sharks, another cup favorite. Lastly, it was the domination of the powerhouse Ducks.
We'll never know what would have happened if Marc-Andre Bergeron, Andrew Ladd, and Dwayne Roloson never got tangled up that day. We'll never know what would have happened if Jason Smith hooked down Rod Brind'amour or if Ty Conklin would have shot it up the ice instead of leaving it behind the net. We'll never know what would have happened if Jussi Markkanen had replaced Roloson that night.
What we do know though, is what did happen. The Oilers fell behind 3-1 and became one of the few teams to come back to force a game 7, with the help of some ballsy goaltending by a certain Jussi Markkanen. We didn't make history as the third team to come back from the 3-1 deficit, but we sure gave had a hoot trying. The Oilers Cinderella story of a cup run was over and we all felt drained. It was beautiful, but no cup.
A couple rough-and-tumble seasons later the team is looking up and the career of the soldier who saw us through the whole mess is looking down. The emergence of Garon as #1 and DesLauriers as a legitimate option in the future has raised questions about Roloson's role on the team.
As I had predicted, he is slated to start tonight in Chicago (PPV) or though there's a chance it's tomorrow night in Colorado (TSN) instead. Hopefully he gets to wear the Grant Fuhr replica mask soon. Why? Because, as always, there are rumblings about his future in Edmonton and about whether it his time here is limited.
I think Garon and DesLauriers have some valuable lessons to learn from Roli's bag of tricks from the spring of '06, for their own future Oilers' cup runs.
Memorable Dwayne Roloson Moments:
1. Spring 2006, 2nd round - Game 3 - 2 OT, Sharks @ Oilers view
Dwayne Roloson robs Jonathan Cheechoo on a one-timer, point blank. Maybe it was coming on Cheechoo's forehand side, and he suggested he let up on the shot. I think Dwayne Roloson's glove disagrees mightily.
The save prolonged the game, and in 3 OT Shawn Horcoff scores the goal that ends the game. Instead of going down 3-0, the Oilers are back in it at 1 games to San Jose's 2. Oilers go on to win 4 straight to take the series.
The Game 3 recap has conveniently disappeared from the Oilers website and I was forced to link it to Game 4 instead.
2. Spring 2006, 3rd round - Game 2, Oilers @ Ducks
Roloson conveniently shakes off his mask a few times in Game 2 of an Oilers 3-1 win. This peeves the hell out of Randy Carlyle as Roloson goes on keep his crease clear. Oilers go on to win the series 4-1.
3. Spring 2006, 1st round - game to be determined, Wings @ Oilers
Dan Cleary wraps it around the net and Roloson, standing erect and hugging the post - keeps it out somehow! He never gives up on the play and because he squeezes his pads, hugs the post and turns his skates, he keeps it out. That's right DesLauriers - that's how you keep the Bertuzzi's of the NHL from scoring from that area!
4. Spring 2006, 1st round - Game 1, Oilers @ Wings
Dwayne Roloson makes 54 saves in a 3-2 loss to the wings in 2 OT. Maltby deflects the puck past Roloson and it's probably a lucky goal. The Red Wings take home the win - the Oilers take home the message: we can beat the Wings. MacTavish adapts the "trap" in order to make Roloson the center of the defensive system and forces the offensive threats out to the brinks of the defensive zone. Works like a charm. Strangely enough, Roloson performs so well with the system that his SV% is better without Pronger on the ice!
And take home the message they did indeed. Edmonton won the next 2 games on route to eliminating the President's Trophy winners in 6 games.
5. Spring 2006, 4th round - Game 1, Oilers @ Hurricanes
Andrew Ladd steams into the Oilers zone with the puck. Marc-Andre Bergeron, unable to control him, attempts to derail him by pushing him into the post. Unfortunately, Ladd falls gratuitously onto Roloson's blocker arm and right leg, effectively knocking him out of the rest of the playoffs.
Have more Dwayne Roloson moments? Drawing penatlies on Red Wings? Batting pucks out of the air? Complaining to refs? Post 'em and leave 'em in the comments section!
We'll never know.