Thursday, January 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning needs good goaltending from Anders Lindback, Mathieu Garon

TAMPA — Anders Lindback claims he does not get nervous before games.

No butterflies, no anxiety, nothing.

"I don't know why," the Lightning goaltender said. "It's always been like that. I'm just more excited. It's just fun."

That quirky little trait should come in handy tonight when the Lightning opens its lockout-shortened, 48-game season at the Tampa Bay Times Forum against the Capitals.

Because all indications are Lindback will get the start, beginning Tampa Bay's plan to develop the 6-foot-6 Swede, acquired last summer from the Predators, into its long-term solution in net.

That Lindback, 24, will play is not official. Coach Guy Boucher said Friday he still had to discuss it with his staff.

But Boucher had a long talk with Lindback on the ice after Friday's practice then said, generally, "He's a young goaltender that needs to see some games and some ice."

Whether Boucher goes with Lindback or Mathieu Garon, goaltending is again a hot-button issue with the Lightning.

Yes, the additions of blue-liners Sami Salo and Matt Carle will help tighten the team's overall defensive package that last season was porous, to say the least. But that will mean nothing if the goalies can't stop the puck.

In 2011-12, Garon and Dwayne Roloson combined for a 3.34 goals-against average and .889 save percentage, both league worsts; even more disappointing because the team missed the playoffs by just eight points.

"The goaltending was not as sharp as it should have been last year," Garon said.

Indeed, all Garon needed was a relatively average .903 save percentage during a 17-game streak (before a March 6 groin tear ended his season) to go 12-3-2 and push Tampa Bay back into the playoff race.

Add that a league-most 18 goalies have played for the Lightning since Nikolai Khabibulin led it to the 2003-04 Stanley Cup title, and even Garon understands why goaltending gets so much scrutiny here.

"Of course," he said. "Unless you have a Marty Brodeur, who has been for 15 years solid with a team, it's always going to be a question mark."

Is Lindback, who has played just 38 NHL games in a two-year career spent as the backup to Nashville's Pekka Rinne, ready to provide some answers?

"It's what I've always wanted," he said. "That's why I worked to get this chance, this opportunity, to battle for the No. 1 starting job. I want to come here and prove myself and help this team win games."

"He's very athletic," said Salo, who with the Canucks saw Lindback several times. "He doesn't force himself out of the net, and he has quick feet for a big goalie."

And, oh, yeah, Salo said, "He's very calm."

Not only when it comes to suppressing his nerves, but in that there is little wasted motion when he plays.

"It's something I do to save energy, be ready for those third-period shots," Lindback said.

As for his lack of butterflies, he said, "I can't remember the last time I was really nervous before a game. It's more excitement for me. I see everything as a chance.

"I'm ready to go," he added. "I feel good."

MOVES: Forwards Mike Angelidis, Kyle Wilson and J.T. Wyman cleared waivers and were reassigned to AHL Syracuse. Defenseman Matt Taormina also cleared but because of an undisclosed injury sustained during training camp was not reassigned and was placed on injured reserve.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Vegas-Lightning, of all things, is the biggest show in town

Vegas-Lightning, of all things, is the biggest show in town

TAMPA — It's Vegas night.Who would have thought we would have been circling this one on the schedule before the NHL season began?Vegas Golden Knights and Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena.We've circled it just the same.It's Vegas night.Any wa...
Updated: 11 hours ago
With Victor Hedman out, Lightning’s Slater Koekkoek finally gets chance to prove himself

With Victor Hedman out, Lightning’s Slater Koekkoek finally gets chance to prove himself

TAMPA — When it comes to replacing its top defenseman, the Lightning realizes that’s not possible."Let’s be honest," coach Jon Cooper said. "Nobody in that room is Victor Hedman."But with Hedman out three to six weeks with a lower-body injury, it mea...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Could Mikhail Sergachev replace Hedman on All-Star team?

Could Mikhail Sergachev replace Hedman on All-Star team?

With Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman out 3-6 weeks with a lower body injury, he has to get replaced on the Atlantic Division team. There are plenty of strong candidates to fill the void, including the Maple Leafs' Morgan Rielly and Boston rookie C...
Published: 01/17/18
Rick and Tom podcast: Can the Lightning keep up this pace?

Rick and Tom podcast: Can the Lightning keep up this pace?

In their latest podcast, Tom Jones sits down with Joe Smith to catch up on the Lightning through 44 games as it gets set to come back from the bye week. Will the Lightning be looking to add pieces at the trade deadline, who might it have to give up,...
Published: 01/17/18
What are the Ducks getting in J.T. Brown? What is Tampa Bay losing?

What are the Ducks getting in J.T. Brown? What is Tampa Bay losing?

The Ducks claimed right wing J.T. Brown off waivers Sunday because they wanted depth on their fourth line with a forward who could play both wings and center."We will not bring him there to sit in the stands," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle told reporters...
Published: 01/17/18
How the Lightning ‘practices’ without practicing

How the Lightning ‘practices’ without practicing

TAMPA – The Lightning is scheduled to take the ice late Wednesday morning at Amalie Arena to do something it hasn't done since, well, last year.Practice.You have to go back to Dec. 27, the day the Lightning returned from the Christmas brea...
Published: 01/16/18
Jones: Besties, Ball and bloopers -- it’s TV tidbits time

Jones: Besties, Ball and bloopers -- it’s TV tidbits time

Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.Best comebackExcuse Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp for getting so carried away that he dropped the queen bee of curse words on live television Sun...
Published: 01/14/18
Lightning’s five-day break comes at particularly good time

Lightning’s five-day break comes at particularly good time

By ROGER MOONEYTAMPA — Before the last game on the Lightning’s last road trip, coach Jon Cooper asked his team if anyone was tired.It was an obvious question, given the Lightning was playing the second game of a back-to-back set, had lost 6-3 at Otta...
Published: 01/14/18
Lightning’s J.T. Brown claimed off waivers by Ducks

Lightning’s J.T. Brown claimed off waivers by Ducks

Wing J.T. Brown is headed from the Lightning to the Ducks.Anaheim claimed Brown off waivers by Sunday’s noon deadline. He was placed on waivers Saturday to create roster flexibility for calling up players from AHL Syracuse, general manager Steve Yzer...
Published: 01/14/18
Lightning hosting an outdoor game is a matter of when, not if

Lightning hosting an outdoor game is a matter of when, not if

TAMPA — Two weeks from today, this city will host its first special NHL event in nearly two decades with the All-Star Game at Amalie Arena. The last All-Star Game in Tampa was 1999. But it sounds like the city won’t have to wait nearly a...
Published: 01/13/18
Updated: 01/14/18