Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Struggling Lindback still confident

Sweat poured off Anders Lindback's face as he sat at his locker Friday. As soon as he wiped away one stream, another trickled off his beard-covered chin.

The Lightning had practiced for 40 minutes at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, and Lindback had stayed on the ice another 20 to work with goaltenders coach Frantz Jean.

"He's doing the right things," coach Jon Cooper said.

It is results that are lacking.

Lindback is 4-9-1 with a 3.18 goals-against average and an .877 save percentage that is last in the league among goalies with at least 15 games.

Worse, in three games since Ben Bishop sustained a sprained right wrist Sunday at Edmonton, Lindback, though 1-2-0, has allowed 10 goals on 59 shots, an .831 save percentage.

If the daunting numbers have hurt Lindback's confidence, he isn't saying.

"From my perspective, yeah, I'm confident in myself," Lindback said. "I don't feel like I go out there doubting myself at all."

How, then, to explain what has happened to Lindback this season? More to the point, how do you explain his inability to seize the moment during Bishop's injury?

Is it bad luck, bad bounces? Lindback certainly has allowed more than his share of goals via unmanageable deflections.

Is it the lack of playing time behind Bishop that has kept him from getting into a rhythm? That at 25 Lindback has played just 77 NHL games? Something technical?

It is a little bit of everything, really. But Lindback said he can solve the problems.

"I've had bad stretches in my career. You're up and down. It's going to be like that," he said. "I try to stay positive and look at it as a learning experience as a curve for me. It's not like I'm not trying my best."

Overplaying the puck seems to be the biggest issue, something Lindback admitted comes from pressing a bit. That is what happened on Washington's first goal in Thursday's 4-3 Lightning loss; Lindback slid to his right, leaving open the other side of the net, at which Eric Fehr could shoot.

"I'm forcing it a little too much, maybe overworking situations," Lindback said. "I'm aware of it, at least. I feel I know what I'm doing wrong. Just keep at it. Eventually my break is going to come. I'm confident of that."

Maybe it comes today against the Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center, Lindback's third straight start and fourth straight game.

"The more you play, it's going to level out," Bishop said. "This will be his third (start) in a row, and he'll get more into a rhythm. The more games, the more comfortable you feel. The more shots, the better he will feel."

Bishop, who is eligible to come off injured reserve Monday and play at Columbus — though that doesn't necessarily mean he will be ready to go — is feeling better, too.

He practiced 20 minutes Friday, gripped his stick well and said the main issue is determining the right tape job that will support the wrist but allow him enough flexibility.

In other words, it is just a matter of time before Bishop returns to take the bulk of the game action. But that won't change Lindback's approach.

"He's working hard in practice. He's stopping pucks," Cooper said. "That's the attitude you have to have: 'Hey, I'm working hard.' At some point you think karma is going to kick in because you're doing the right things."

"Things haven't turned out the way I wanted to, but I'm a big believer in keep doing what I'm doing," Lindback said. "I'm fully confident in myself. It's going to start going my way."

INJURY REPORT: Defenseman Radko Gudas (lower body) did not practice, though Cooper said he will play during the three-game road trip. … Wing J.T. Brown (shoulder), who has missed two games, also will play on the trip, Cooper said.

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