Goaltender Dwayne Roloson not alone in Tampa Bay Lightning's struggles

BRANDON — Dwayne Roloson has said he is done discussing his age. But the Lightning goaltender on Tuesday understood it was something that needed to be addressed.

Getting tagged for 17 goals in his past three starts while turning 42 years old will do that.

"Oh, yeah," said the league's oldest player when asked if he is up to the physical challenge. "I just spent two hours on the ice. Physically, the challenge is there. Mentally, the challenge is there. It's execution."

That has not been there.

Roloson is 1-2-1 in four games with a 5.09 goals-against average that entered Tuesday last among 54 goalies listed by the NHL. His .858 save percentage was 50th. Only Ottawa's Craig Anderson had allowed more goals than Roloson's 18.

His past three games, including Monday's 7-4 loss to the Panthers, have been particularly messy as Roloson went 0-2-1 with a 6.71 goals-against average and .819 save percentage, all after a 32-save victory opening night over the Hurricanes.

"It's frustrating," said Roloson, who over the summer signed a one-year, $3 million deal with $500,000 in potential playoff bonuses. "But you have to put your frustrations in the right avenues and stay as positive as you possibly can to get out of this."

"We're not worried about him," coach Guy Boucher said. "We certainly haven't lost faith in him."

Being a goalie is unforgiving. Goals go on your record even if teammate blunders are to blame. And the Lightning hasn't given Roloson much help.

Defensive zone coverages have been poor. Players say they aren't playing with enough urgency or smarts. As defenseman Victor Hedman explained, "It's not his fault. We need to do a better job of giving him a chance to stop the puck. We need to be in the way more and help him more."

Which is fine, but as Boucher noted, "(Roloson) is the only one with a red light that lights up and says, 'You made a mistake.' "

Roloson has made errors.

There have been too many short-side goals and goals in which he was slow to be in position. Some of it is focus, goaltenders coach Frantz Jean said, some of it footwork.

"It's a little bit of everything," Jean said. "There's no tendency that you see over and over again, so it's just a matter of putting it all together and getting in some kind of comfort zone where we get into a rhythm.

"You have to go back to what works for you and put some time in practice to get your rhythm back and get your tracking back, and suddenly you're going to hit that curve when it's going to go up and you're back on track."

How long that takes is to be seen. Boucher said Roloson's practice Tuesday at the Ice Sports Forum was "way better than his previous practices."

Even so, the guess is Mathieu Garon will play Thursday against the Islanders and perhaps Saturday against the Sabres to give Roloson a chance to regroup.

In the meantime, Roloson said he will invoke his 12-hour rule, the amount of time he allows himself to stew over bad games.

"You have to look at the now, pinpoint situations and figure it out," he said.

And that has nothing to do with age.

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

Goaltender Dwayne Roloson not alone in Tampa Bay Lightning's struggles 10/18/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 12:29am]

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