After any loss, an untrained hockey mind (and some trained ones as well) look at the score and immediately blame goalie. Sometimes this is justified, but most times the judgmental should be cast at the other five people on the ice too. Hockey is, after all, a team sport.
For Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Anders Lindback, the 3-2 loss against the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday night was not a performance worthy of any judgement. In fact, despite the loss, Lindback proved his ability to stand in net for a team that had the luxury of falling back on an outstanding starting goalie, Ben Bishop, through the regular season.
Tampa Bay’s defensive end is built on the back of Bishop’s remarkable ability to propel the puck away from the back of the net at all costs. Lindback might not be at Bishop’s level yet, but then again, most goalies in the NHL aren’t either.
Lindback’s athleticism shone on Sunday as he made plenty of unbelievable to keep the Lightning in the game up until the very last seconds of play. A controversial no-goal call against Tampa Bay also didn’t help the Lightning come out of this game on top.
However, Tampa Bay’s issue in this playoff series is certainly not the goaltending problem many suspected it would be once Bishop injured himself just before the end of the regular season. Instead, the Lightning’s problem is more offense-based. The team is making Canadiens goalie Carey Price‘s job far too easy without getting the necessary pucks to the net.
With Sunday night’s victory, the Canadien’s take a commanding 3-0 series lead over Tampa Bay, with one more game in hand at home to secure a potential sweep. Can Tampa Bay come back and make this a playoff series worth watching? Not if they continue playing with a stalled offense. But one thing is for certain regardless of the outcome: criticism of Lindback need not apply here.