The Tampa Bay Lightning are having another difficult season in the goaltending department, as was evidenced by last night’s 7-3 beating in Toronto. It’s been said by some that Dwayne Roloson is too old to be an elite NHL goaltender while there are others who say it’s just a down year for him, and for the team as a whole.
Personally, I believe that maybe he’s just past his prime. This is because Roloson, thus far this season in 19 games played, has a 6-8-1 record with an .882 save percentage and 3.81 goals against average (GAA). In contrast, last season, with a struggling New York Islanders team, Roloson had a .916 save percentage and 2.64 GAA, though he did go 6-13-1-0.
When acquired by Tampa Bay on New Year’s Day 2011 it was viewed to be a good move by many Bolts fans, and he certainly didn’t disappoint, helping to guide the Lightning to the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference and then helping take the team within a few goals of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Should we have re-signed him this past offseason, knowing he was about to turn 42 years old, to a one-year deal? That’s up for debate right now but after what he did last season, and during the 2011 playoffs, it certainly can be seen why Lightning GM Steve Yzerman did, in fact, choose to re-sign him.
Was it a wrong move by Yzerman? Maybe, maybe not. I do know right now though that any other general manager, after a goaltender helps lead the team that deep into the playoffs, would more often than not make the same decision Yzerman did with Roloson.
I also believe that Roloson’s numbers might be similar on many other
teams because, as was evidenced when viewing his career numbers on NHL.com, Roloson’s current save percentage and GAA are his second worst, only behind the 1998-99′ playoffs while with the Buffalo Sabres.
Finally, Roloson, and the Lightning organization, have tried a lot of new and different ways to improve Roloson’s numbers. He spent a few weeks working on his positioning with goaltending coach Frantz Jean early on and he also has been given longer rests (Granted, some of those rests are because of how well backup goaltender, Mathieu Garon, has been doing.) Regardless, nothing has worked up until now; something that ultimately leads me to believe that Roloson could be past his prime.
(All of Dwayne Roloson’s statistics can be found at http://www.nhl.com/ice/player.htm?id=8460806. )
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