didn’t know he’d be facing the San Jose Sharks last night until he glanced at the greaseboard in the visitors locker room at HP Pavilion just before Anaheim’s morning skate.
You couldn’t blame Deslauriers if he didn’t bother looking at the board, and planned on spending the extra time on the ice a backup goalie typically endures during the skate. After all, Deslauriers hadn’t started a game – hadn’t even appeared in a game – in more than two months, since beating the Dallas Stars on January 10 at Honda Center. Jonas Hiller
had started a Ducks franchise-record 32 straight games from January 12 through last Sunday. But with the Ducks playing the second game of a back-to-back, and with Anaheim’s playoff hopes having all but vanished, the 27-year-old Deslauriers finally got the nod.
Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau had made the decision to start Deslauriers in advance, but didn’t want to tell his backup netminder until Monday morning because, “he might be a little nervous and not get a good sleep.”
Deslauriers was thrilled when he saw his number finally written on the board with the rest of the Ducks line combinations. “I was happy to be in there,” said Deslauriers, who was recalled from Syracuse on February 19 and has backed up Hiller on other occasions this season while normal No. 2 goalie Dan Ellis
nurses a groin injury. "Jonas has played great for us, and with us batting for a playoff spot, he was putting up good numbers for us and he’s a big part of the team. To have those games back-to-back, I got the chance and it was very exciting for me.”
Deslauriers gave up two first period goals to the Sharks, but was able to settle down the rest of the way, allowing only a deflected Joe Pavelski goal late in the second period of a 5-3 victory for Anaheim. Deslauriers, who made 27 saves on the night, admitted to some early nerves, but nothing that doesn’t typically accompany any game he’s in net.
|“The good thing about not playing that long is you’re on the ice for a longer time and you go in the gym afterward, so you try and keep in shape for when you get into the games. You know what you need to do to stay ready. You always want to contribute, but everybody has their role to play and understand it. I understood mine.” |
“It’s a big rivalry between two California teams and everything, so that gets you going,” said Deslauriers, who played parts of two seasons in Edmonton before spending all of last season with Oklahoma City of the AHL. “I was more excited than nervous, but you always have butterflies going into a game. Any game I’m going to play I’m going to have those. That’s normal.”
Deslauriers said he didn’t feel the rust of not having seen NHL game action in more than nine weeks, saying the extra work on the ice and in the gym kept him in top shape.
“It’s been awhile since I’ve played a game, but that gave me more time for practice and I was able to do things in the gym to stay in shape and work on my conditioning,” he said. “I knew I was ready and I worked hard for my next chance.
“The good thing about not playing that long is you’re on the ice for a longer time and you go in the gym afterward, so you try and keep in shape for when you get into the games. You know what you need to do to stay ready. You always want to contribute, but everybody has their role to play and understand it. I understood mine.”
Part of his role was taking the brunt of the Ducks’ tougher shots in practice, while the Ducks go easy on Hiller before a start. “He works in practice like no other,” captain Ryan Getzlaf
said last night. “He's taken a lot of heat the last little while for shots in practice, but we were proud of him tonight."
Deslauriers laughed when he heard that, explaining that “when Hillsy is starting, the guys don’t pick the corners or try to hit the head. So, when you’re the second goalie, you’re the one getting all the high heat shots around the ears and high glove. At the same time, it makes you better, so that’s a good thing. Sometimes it hits the helmet or the collarbone, but that’s part of the game. You just put a bag of ice on it, and do it the next day.”
|“We won because the guys in front of me played hard. They pushed hard, but we pushed back. From a goalie’s standpoint, when you see guys in front playing hard and playing for you and putting pucks in the net, that feels good.” |
Deslauriers got plenty used to that role in Edmonton, sitting behind starter Dwayne Roloson during the 2008-09 season in Edmonton. “We were battling for the playoffs and Dwayne was there and played so many games,” says Deslauriers, a native of St-Jean-Richelieu, Quebec. “I know what to expect and I’m okay with it. To be part of a team is to know your role, and mine was to be the guy backing up Hillsy. He was playing great, so my role was to just be there and be ready when I got the chance.”
He made the most of it last night in San Jose, but like any goalie he was quick to give the credit to the other guys in the white jerseys.
“We won because the guys in front of me played hard,” said Deslauriers, who is now 2-0-0 as a Duck. “We scored five goals and never backed down. They pushed hard, but we pushed back. From a goalie’s standpoint, when you see guys in front playing hard and playing for you and putting pucks in the net, that feels good.”