With all of the goalies the Tampa Bay Lightning have acquired in the past few months, it is easy for fans to get excited about the future of the goaltending position for the Bolts. At the top of the list is Anders Lindback, the expected number one starter who was traded to the Lightning for draft picks. After that trade, and to the surprise of many, Steve Yzerman lured over former 1st round pick Riku Helenius from Finland. Finally, during the NHL draft, Yzerman once again shocked Bolt’s fans by selecting Andrei Vasilevski with the 19th pick in the 1st round. Joining this trio of goalies are two prospects that lead the Norfolk Admirals to the AHL Calder Cup Championship in Dustin Tokarski and Jaroslav Janus. This type of depth is what has people all over Bolts Nation thrilled to see these kids in action. An interesting point to look at however is the fact that many people are forgetting about the other goalie that will play for the team next season. That goalie is Mathieu Garon.
Garon will hold an integral part of the 2012-2013 squad as he must mentor a young goalie in Lindback while providing quality starts when he gets the chance. The former Predator has never been a starter in the NHL before and he has not had much of a workload in his career. This leads me to believe that the 60-70 starts a top goalie usually gets during the season will probably be out of the question for the big man from Sweden. This means that the Lightning backup will most likely have to play more hockey than usual for a backup. Fortunately, he has shown that he is capable of playing extra games here and there. Last season, because of Dwayne Roloson’s struggles, the veteran goaltender had to play in 48 games and would have played more if it wasn’t for a late season groin tear. His late season hot streak showed that he is able to play more than enough games to give Lindback a rest every once in a while.
Lightning fans need to understand that if everything goes right and there are no problems for the Bolts, then Lindback will get around 50 games while Garon plays around 30. Don’t be surprised if every once in a while Garon has one of his streaks where he takes the reigns for five or six straight games. Ultimately, like any position, it all depends on production. Whichever goalie plays better will get more of the starts. Yzerman wanted to make it clear though, that Lindback will have to earn the starting job and to not be surprised if Garon plays more games than the prototypical backup. This season should be a turning point in the organization because management is hoping that Lindback can be the future star goalie for this team. If he can accomplish that then the Lightning are in for a great run of success, if he is not ready for that however, then Garon will be there to pick up the slack.