This is just a nice story of teammates having another's back. Seems that after Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Dwayne Roloson came into the locker room after his dazzling 34-save shootout victory over the Oilers on Thursday, his teammates gave him a standing ovation.
"It was a great gesture," Roloson said Saturday. "I think anybody that has gone through a tough time like I have this year, it would be the same thing. All the guys in that locker room are classy guys and very respectful. It's a tight-knit team."
Roloson's problems this season have been well documented. At 42 years old, the league's oldest player, he lost his No. 1 job to Mathieu Garon and his 3.70 goals-against average and .882 save percentage are the league's worst for goalies with more than 30 games. When he beat the Oilers, it was the first time since Nov. 17 he had allowed fewer than three goals in a start.
So when Roloson was named first star of the game against Edmonton and came into the locker room after his on-ice interview, his teammates stood and cheered.
"You saw the game, he got us the win," left wing Ryan Malone said. "I don't know if we deserved to be around that long in the game. He made some big saves for us. That's the goalie that he is."
It is true the Lightning players applaud every first star that comes off the ice, but Roloson's ovation was different, Malone said, a little more heartfelt.
"We're just happy for him because he's worked so hard," Malone said. "It's nice to have him get in there and feel good about himself. He's kept an even keel through the whole thing. He's handled himself well and it rubs off on everybody."
"Now," Roloson said, "it's another day."
Other stuff from the morning skate: As expected, Roloson gets the start in net tonight against the Islanders. ... Defenseman Bruno Gervais gets back in the lineup tonight. Defenseman Mike Commodore will sit. ... Coach Guy Boucher said injured forwards Nate Thompson (upper body), Adam Hall (upper body) and Vinny Lecavalier (fractured hand) are not ready to return. ... Many players did not participate in the optional morning skate. Players such as Malone Marty St. Louis, Steven Stamkos and Teddy Purcell also did not practice on Friday. "It's just rest," Boucher said. It's interesting that a few days ago Boucher said he would start tapering back the minutes for his top players as he tries to get a look at some of the younger guys. But Stamkos played 27 minutes Thursday against the Oilers, St. Louis 26, and Malone and Purcell 24. "I wanted to," Boucher said of limiting their ice time, "but you want to win the games."