Monday, December 18, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning's bad goalie luck: Is Lindback next?

Lightning fans can reel off the names of all the goalies who have come to town with high expectations and left with low results.

There was Dan Cloutier and Marc Denis and Mike Smith and Dan Ellis. Don't forget John Grahame and Kevin Weekes and Kevin Hodson. There were plenty more, too.

Now, those same fans are wondering if Anders Lindback, acquired in the offseason from Nashville, will be added to that list of goalies who just didn't pan out in Tampa Bay.

So far, it's evident that Lindback's solid numbers in Nashville (a 2.53 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage in 38 games) were partly due to playing behind a conservative Predators team that focused on defense instead of scoring. Terry Crisp, the former Lightning coach and current Predators broadcaster, saw every game Lindback played over the past two seasons.

"He was playing backup to Pekke Rinne, who is one of the best in the business," Crisp said. "But every time he went in, (the Predators) had a chance to win, and he stole games."

Lindback is having a bit more trouble adjusting to life with the Lightning, which generally plays an uptempo style with a few more holes in its defense and plenty of gaffes, too.

"He definitely can be a No. 1 goalie," Crisp said. "He just needs a bit more time. He has the size and the ability. It's there."

To be fair, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman insisted Lindback wasn't a fully formed No. 1 goalie when he was acquired.

By the way, Lindback realizes he hasn't lived up to expectations, and those close to him say he knows he has let the team and the fans down so far.

"He's a good kid, a high-character guy," Crisp said. "Hopefully the fans will treat him well because he does have a chance to be a pretty good goalie."

What is it with the Lightning and goalies? When you think about it, the Lightning has had two really good ones in its history. There was Daren Puppa, who was spectacular in the late 1990s as long as his back was okay. And, of course, there was Nikolai Khabibulin, who backstopped the Lightning's Stanley Cup in 2004. Other than that, the Lightning has spent its history trying to replace one or the other.

Media tidbits

• Lots of rumors that Keith Olbermann wants to go back to ESPN. Olbermann, who worked for ESPN from 1992 to 1997, had dinner recently with ESPN president John Skipper, but there are varying reports to how the meeting went. Some are suggesting that ESPN told Olbermann it wasn't interested, while others are suggesting ESPN would love to have Olbermann back.

• Fox announced it will launch a 24-hour sports network that it hopes can compete with ESPN. Fox Sports 1 is scheduled to debut Aug. 17 and is expected to be in about 90 million homes. The network will carry regular-season Major League Baseball games, including some playoff games, as well as NASCAR, mixed-martial art events and basketball games from the new Big East Conference. The network also will have original programming, including a daily NFL show that will feature such Fox personalities as Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long and Jay Glazer.

• Sideline reporter Jenn Brown has left ESPN. At one point, it appeared as if Brown was being groomed to replace Erin Andrews, but Brown fell behind Samantha (Steele) Ponder as the network's top college sideline reporter. Brown grew up in Orlando and went to Florida.

Three things that popped into my head

1. So now Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford comes out and rips the Boston media and, basically, his whole experience with the Red Sox. Was he the only person on the planet who didn't know he was going to be a horrible fit in Boston?

2. Don't you just love that Sprint Cup driver Denny Hamlin rips the new Gen-6 car, gets fined by NASCAR and then says he is not going to pay the fine? But you might not want to try that tact the next time you get a speeding ticket.

3. While everybody was setting their clocks ahead one hour Saturday night, the Lightning was still trying to figure out how to turn its clock back two years.

tom jones' two cents

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