FORT WAYNE – Jeff Deslauriers hadn’t played in weeks. He had been sent directly from the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks to Fort Wayne, without a stop at Triple-A Norfolk in between. And he was made to play back-to-back-to-back games in the span of 72 hours last weekend.
For most goaltenders, this might have been frustrating, overwhelming and difficult.
But Deslauriers, 28, is the kind of guy who doesn’t get rattled by about anything because he’s seen about everything.
Experience-wise, I’ve done a lot and been put in different experiences, he said. I’ve seen pretty much everything in all of those situations.
With the Komets, who have lost seven of their last eight games, he went 1-2-0 but stopped 95.5 percent of the shots he faced.
Strange as it may seem, being sent down to the ECHL has meant big adjustments for Deslauriers because the shots are slower than the ones he was facing in NHL practices with the Ducks.
Execution is different, there’s no question about that. That’s no surprise, said Deslauriers, a second-round pick of the Edmonton Oilers in 2002. That’s the reality of it, and I have to adjust myself and be more patient and be in the right spots.
He has played 62 NHL games with the Oilers and Ducks, going 23-32-4 with a 3.24 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage, though he hasn’t played in any since last season. Were it not for the emergence of Viktor Fasth, he might be the Ducks’ goalie right now.
Instead, he had played only two games this season with Norfolk before getting into the Komets’ lineup.
I’m used to (sitting), he said. If you look at the track record, I’m on the bench for a month and then I get the call. I’ve done that before and won games.
In his first game with the Komets, a 3-1 loss to North Division-leading Cincinnati on Friday, he stopped 28 of 30 shots without knowing the names of some of his teammates.
I was ready to play and everything was good, but the first time you’re with a team, you don’t know how they react and they don’t know how you react, said Deslauriers, a native of St.-Jean-Richelieu, Quebec.
The Komets (27-28-2) are eight points back of Elmira for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. There are 15 games remaining in the regular season, starting tonight against Toledo (30-19-7) at Memorial Coliseum.
When I go out there, I want to win. When you don’t, you’re not happy, he said. We’re battling for a playoff spot here and every save counts, every goal, and we need to try and get better, and I want to help these guys get a place in the playoffs. That’s where the fun hockey is, in the playoffs.
Note: Defenseman Jeremy Gates, who has one assist in five games this season with the Komets, was re-signed today after a stint in the CHL with Bloomington.