Canadiens at Lightning - Three questions with Raw Charge

Jim McIsaac

We got in contact with the managing editor of Raw Charge, John Fontana, and asked him a few questions. Here are his answers.

1) Anders Lindback was acquired by Steve Yzerman in the offseason in order to solve the Lightning's consistent goaltending woes. He seems to be off to a shaky start with a .902 save percentage. Yzerman seems to have really struggled to solve problems at this position, maybe because in Detroit they mostly ignored goaltending. Is there something you think needs to be done there, or would you rather roll the dice with Lindback and Mathieu Garon?

Lindback is all of 24 years old and had less than 40 NHL games played before this season. He was seen as a project, a raw talent to work with, from the beginning. That being said, Lindback was playing well (not lights out, mind you, but well enough) when the team in front of him was playing better. After the recent losses with the team in front of him playing poorly... Well, of course his stats have fallen.

I'm not sure if Yzerman's decisions are to blame regarding personnel as to other influences on goaltending. After all, Mike Smith (who Yzerman inherited) played horribly for the Bolts, left via free agency and was lights-out last season for the Coyotes. Dan Ellis, who Yzerman signed in 2010-11, was mediocre at best in his stint in Tampa. He's bounced around since being traded in 2011 but played well (1.99 GAA, .939 Save %) in 4 games for the Carolina Hurricanes so far this season. Dwayne Roloson joined the Bolts in the middle of 2010-11 and played lights-out, but then regressed horribly in 2011-12.

I don't think change of personnel, especially an admitted project goalie, is in the cards or should be in the cards. Something's fishy elsewhere - be it defense or what goalie coach Frantz Jean is instructing his netminders to do. Regardless, proposing another goalie change in Tampa (which has been a revolving door since Nikolai Khabibulin departed the club in 2005, long before Yzerman became GM) won't likely be in the cards.

2) Former Habs Benoit Pouliot and Tom Pyatt were known for complete opposite skill sets when they were on the team, but they both have 3 goals and 3 assists to start the year. How are they looking this year?

Should I say "thank you" for letting Pyatt walk? Tom's been a pleasant surprise since his signing in the summer of 2011, he's not a prolific scorer, but he's been dependable on the third line (and sometimes playing wing with Ile Bizzard native Vincent Lecavalier). Pouliot has also found his niche on the third line - partly agitator, partly scoring threat. So, in short, they've both looked good and have been dependable.

3) 13 different Lightning players are shooting at an above league average shooting percentage, are you guys worried at all about what happens when the team's shooting percentage winds down a bit?

Oh, we've been exposed to the numbers dwindling in the past week-plus during Tampa Bay's 4 game losing streak. Clare Austin, one of the writers over at Raw Charge, even pointed out (through advanced stats) that a statistical correction is likely to (and currently is) occurring.

So, "worried" might not be the word. "Vexed" may be more fitting, even though it should be understood that the Lightning couldn't maintain their torrid pace of the first two weeks of the season. The team has looked different over the last four games, much more mortal offensively and defensively, than the inflated numbers suggested.

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