Mike Smith gets the start in net for Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5 with the Bruins
The intrigue surrounding the Tampa Bay Lightning's goaltending came to an end on Monday, when Mike Smith led the team onto the ice for warm-ups before Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final with the Bruins. Smith gets his first-ever playoff start after stopping all 29 shots he has faced in two relief efforts in this series.
For two days, Lightning coach Guy Boucher had hedged as to who would start. Dwayne Roloson, who had been pulled in two of the past three games or Smith. Roloson had really struggled lately. After coming into the series with a playoffs-best 2.01 goals-against average and .947 save percentage, Roloson was 0-2 in his past three games with a 5.64 goals-against average and .820 save percentage.
The intrigue continued at the morning skate. Roloson was the first off the ice, as is usually the case for the starter, but Smith came off right after and did not do any extra work. Boucher also was non-committal as he spoke to the media. That meant we were left to wait and see.
Smith has had such an up-and-down season. He was bad enough early that he was demoted to AHL Norfolk. But in nine games since his return, he has a 1.5 goals-against average and .947 save percentage.
In other news, right wing Steve Downie skated during warm-ups. He missed the third period of Game 4 after his head hit the glass and the ice when he was hit from behind by Boston's Nathan Horton.