TORONTO – When you’re the starting goaltender for the NHL’s 30th-place team, your squad has just given up three goals in 1:36 to fall behind 5-1 to the 29th-place team and your net is being crashed, it’s easy to get frustrated.
That’s exactly what happened Saturday night at 8:50 of the second period in Toronto with Edmonton’s Jeff Deslauriers. The rookie netminder went after Leafs enforcer Colton Orr before eventually trading jabs with Dion Phaneuf.
“I was just getting tired of being run down by other players,” said the 25-year-old from St-Jean-Richelieu, Que. “So there was, maybe, a little frustration there. But in hockey you play with emotion, sometimes too much emotion and that’s the result.”
The altercation ended quickly with Deslauriers and Phaneuf receiving roughing minors.
“A few pucks started to go in on him and his team wasn’t protecting him in front,” said Edmonton head coach Pat Quinn. “I guess he didn’t like it very much.”
It was the second such incident for Deslauriers this season; he went after Los Angeles blueliner Drew Doughty when the Kings got to crashing his goal.
“We’ve been a soft team a long time in that area,” Quinn said when asked about his players protecting their goaltender’s crease. “(The Leafs) knew it and took advantage and the officials didn’t assist him, the same as our team. If they’re not going to do the job you want your own team to, unfortunately we didn’t do it.
“Tonight was a tough night for J.D., he wasn’t getting help and decided he’d have to clear the crease himself.”
Goaltenders fighting isn’t something too common in hockey any longer and Quinn wasn’t happy to see it Saturday night.
“You never like that,” Quinn said. “I’d like to think that I’ve had teams that have been able to look after that sort of thing much of my career. Your goaltender shouldn’t have to be protecting his area.
Quinn, 67, was also nostalgic when talking about goalies fighting.
“I played with some pretty tough goalies too, they like it sometimes,” said the veteran of 606 NHL games with Toronto, Vancouver and the Atlanta Flames. “We had one right here (in Toronto), Al Smith. He was a tough customer and could look after himself, and enjoyed doing it once in a while, so we let him have that privilege.”
To a man the Oilers skaters knew they had let down Deslauriers – who was pulled after the second period to, Quinn said, let his players know he wasn’t happy with their effort.
“We knew he was frustrated and we should have helped him out more,” said Edmonton’s leading scorer, Dustin Penner, succinctly.