It’s no secret the Tampa Bay Lightning hoped to improve their situation in net this past offseason. Signing former Nashville Predators goaltender Anders Lindback allowed them to do that while providing for the future, as it’s hoped Lindback will develop into the solid number one netminder the team so desperately needs.
Last season saw 41-year-old Dwayne Roloson share the starting job with Mathieu Garon. Roloson struggled though, winning only 13 games while posting a 3.66 GAA for the Lightning. This led to him losing the starting job mid-season. Meanwhile, Garon won 23 of his 44 starts and posted a 2.85 GAA last season. His injury issues (he suffered a season-ending groin injury during a March 2012 game against the Ottawa Senators) made it a risk for the team to give him the top position though. Roloson will not be part of the equation this season, as he’s an unsigned free agent.
Garon’s hoping to get a contract somewhere, maybe as a backup with the Lightning, after this season. To do so he will have to stay healthy and be available when called upon. This will also be key if the Lightning want a chance at making the playoffs. The additions of Sami Salo and Matt Carle hopefully make for an improved defense in front of him, though he’ll still have to show he’s able to make key saves in close games. Adding Lindback gives the Lightning an option, as his size (6’6″) makes it easier to move and cover most of the net. If either one plays well or gets on a winning streak it will push the other, something that could prove valuable come playoff time if the team makes it that far. Lindback had five wins and a 2.42 GAA while backing up Predators starter Pekka Rinne last season.
A solid tandem in net can make a huge difference in today’s NHL. The performance of Boston Bruins‘ netminders Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask a few years back proves that much. If the Lightning can get both goaltenders to perform their very best, they could once again find themselves making a deep postseason run. Maybe this time it will end with them hoisting hockey’s most coveted prize, something that would be fitting given this is the team’s 20th Anniversary season.