Tampa Bay Lightning: How to Handle Goalie Starts for Rest of Regular Season
Deciding who will start in goal is typically a decision based on who will give you the greatest chance to win. However, at this point in the season, that strategy should no longer be considered. Rather, the decision should be based upon how the starting goalie will be rested and how the backup goalie will be warmed up and tested in the event of an injury to the starting goalie in the playoffs.
Ben Bishop, the Tampa Bay Lightning starting goalie, has started seven straight games. This is a heavy workload for a goalie, and that is not necessary at this point of the season, considering the Lightning have already locked up a playoff spot.
With the Lightning sitting four points behind the Montreal Canadiens for the 2nd seed and sitting five points ahead of the Detroit Red Wings, who own the top Wild Card spot, it’s time to sit on the 3rd seed and get your team ready to head to Montreal.
Given that four games are all that remain for the Lightning in the regular season, it only makes sense to bench Bishop for two of those four games and let backup goalie Anders Lindback take the starts.
Lindback holds an unimpressive record of 5-12-2 this season, including a 2-4-1 record at home. Given that he holds a better record at home than on the road, it only makes sense to give him two home starts to wrap up the season. This will allow him to get warmed up, get his morale back up, and get him prepared to play in the even that Bishop goes down in the playoffs.
Although Bishop does need rest before the playoffs, he also needs to continue being tested. This should be rather simple given that the Lightning still have matchups against the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals. Luckily for the Lightning, these two games are even separated by another game. This should be capitalized upon in of alternating starts between Lindback and Bishop to end the season.
Expect Lindback to start on Apr. 8 against the Toronto Maple Leafs at home, Bishop to start on Apr. 10 against the Flyers at home, and Lindback to start on Apr. 11 against the Columbus Blue Jackets at home. Bishop will wrap up the season by taking on the Capitals on the road to get in an away game, as the regular season ends on Apr. 13, which will get his mind in the “overcome hostility and pressure” mode for when he is relied upon to take on the Canadiens in Montreal.