June 19 has become a holiday of sort to Caniac Nation. Canes fans can tell you where they were and what they were doing when Carolina defeated the Edmonton Oilers 3-1 in game 7 to win the first Stanley Cup in franchise history. The game was in doubt until Justin William sealed the 3-1 victory with an empty netter in the games final minute. Seems that not everyone thinks the series ended the way it should have ended.
Last week during the Tampa Bay Lighting season preview on NHL radio, the host ( I believe it was Jamie Shalley), brought up Dwayne Roloson. Their opinion was that the veteran is at the end of the line of his very solid career. In discussing Roloson, the 2006 playoffs came up. The comment that caused me to curse at the radio ( it makes my mom so proud), was that the Oilers would have won the Cup if not for Roloson’s game 1 injury. Although the injury was a tough break for the Oilers, that is not what cost Edmonton the series. They won games 3,5, and 6, so what game would Roloson had made the difference? Let’s look.
GAME#1 The Canes win game 1 5-4 when Rod Brind”Amour scores after Ty Conklin misplays the puck behind his net. Conklin had replaced Roloson after Andrew Ladd crashed into the Edmonton net minder earlier in the period. Up until the injury, Roloson had not been stoning the Hurricanes. In fact, the Canes led 4-3 when Roloson went out. Critics could say that Roloson doesn’t misplay the puck if he is still in the game. I could say that the Canes win the game anyway because they had scored 4 goals in 2 1/2 periods on Roloson. He had not been a mystery to them.
GAME#2 The Canes steamroll the Oilers 5-0. Cam Ward stops all 25 shots he faces. Hard for Roloson to make a difference when his team is shut out
GAME #4 Canes win this one 2-1 on a Mark Recchi goal with 4:08 left in the game. Roloson would have to have shut out the Canes for the Oilers to win this one.
GAME #7 Sorry, but there is no way the Oilers win game 7. Go back and watch the game. The Canes came out flying. Andrew Ladd hit everything moving, Matt Cullen had jets for skates. The Canes were overwhelming for the first two periods. Again, Roloson would have had to pitch another shut out for the Oilers to come out on top.
You could argue that Jussi Markkanen, Roloson’s replacement, was the reason the series went 7 games. He ended up with a 2:17 GA for the six finals games he started. The Roloson injury was tough for the Oilers, but it did not cost them the Cup. The best team won that series.