The Tampa Bay Lightning are off to a 6-2 start and lead the Southeast Division. Their offensive talent – Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier get most of the headlines, but the team also owes its early success in part to the play of goaltender Anders Lindback. After two seasons as a back-up to Pekka Rinne with the Nashville Predators, Lindback is finally getting his chance to be a number one goaltender.
Lindback has not allowed more than four goals in any game this season, and while he may not boast league-leading stats, he is doing enough for his team to win games.
The Swedish netminder was a seventh round steal for the Predators in the 2008 draft, and when he finally arrived in North America for the 2010-11 season, he made an immediate impact. As Rinne’s backup, Lindback went 11-5-2 with a pair of shutouts and appeared in his only career playoff game so far. Last season he only saw action in 16 games, and struggled to a 5-8 mark. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman liked what he saw in Lindback, and with no long-term solution at the goaltender position, a great match for both parties was made. Lindback has started six of the Lightning’s eight games so far, and if that pace continues he would appear in 36 games this season – only two fewer than the total number of games he has appeared in for his career.
With a loaded offense in front of him that has shown an ability to score at will, this could be a great season for the young netminder. This year’s Tampa team is balanced and built for a postseason run, and by season’s end everyone in the league should know who Lindback is.