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Dwayne Roloson can't explain shaky Tampa Bay Lightning performance

TAMPA — Dwayne Roloson says his confidence level is "fine."

He feels good — no, great — on the ice, and his coaches say he is working as hard as ever in practice and in the video room.

Then what the heck is wrong with the Lightning goaltender's game?

"It's just things are finding ways in right now," Roloson said. "I'm seeing the puck real well. Circumstantial things happen and things go into the net."

Roloson's 3.67 goals-against average entered Tuesday 68th of 71 goalies listed by the NHL. His .882 save percentage was 65th.

He is 6-9-1 in 17 games, lost his past five starts with a 5.25 goals-against average and .829 save percentage and likely will sit for the eighth time in 13 games Thursday against the Flames at the St. Pete Times Forum.

It wasn't supposed to be this way. Signing Roloson to a one-year, $3 million deal was to ensure stability in net while the team devised a long-term plan.

Instead, backup Mathieu Garon has played more games and speculation is general manager Steve Yzerman is looking for an upgrade.

One also has to believe Dustin Tokarksi, 9-5-0 with a 1.94 GAA, two shutouts and a .918 save percentage in his past 14 starts for AHL Norfolk, might get at least a brief look with Tampa Bay.

"In regards to Roli, he's having a tough time," Yzerman said. "He's working at it. He's trying to get back into form. If he sticks with it he can get back on track. In the meantime, myself and the coach, we need to do anything we can to help our team win games, so it's a tough spot for him."

An added wrinkle: Roloson, at 42, is the league's oldest player.

Asked if he believes age is catching up to him, coach Guy Boucher said, "I can't really say because I'm not in his head. He's the only one who knows where he stands in terms of that."

Roloson said he feels good.

"(Monday) night I felt great," he said of the 5-4 loss to the Devils in which he was pulled after allowing three goals on 12 shots. "In Ottawa, I felt good. In Detroit I felt good. It's just things are finding ways in right now.

"There's ways you can analyze everything and come up with a reason, but if you keep trying to find something, then it becomes mind-boggling. Looking at video, things are good. It's just circumstantial things are just going in."

To be fair, Tampa Bay's defense has at times let both goalies down, and a lack of Lightning goals puts a brighter spotlight on every mistake that has been part of seven losses in eight games.

But that doesn't change the fact Roloson is struggling.

"I still have confidence he will find his way back," Boucher said. "He's very professional and you can't care more than that. He had a great attitude (Tuesday), and that's the first step."

Roloson has to "focus on the process" at practice, goaltenders coach Frantz Jean said. "Come to the rink with a positive attitude and leave the bag of bricks at the door. The worst thing you can do is start shooting in every direction and hope to hit something."

"You've got to dial your frustration into the right avenues," Roloson said. "If you put your frustration level where you shouldn't, things get worse."

Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@tampabay.com.

Dwayne Roloson can't explain shaky Tampa Bay Lightning performance 12/13/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 13, 2011 11:05pm]
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