Feb 23, 2012; Winnipeg, MB, CAN; Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Mathieu Garon (32) makes save off a shot from Winnipeg Jets forward Blake Wheeler (26) (not pictured) during the first period at the MTS Centre. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-US PRESSWIRE

Keys to the Season #2: Goaltending Must Improve

Oct 24, 2010; Tampa, FL, USA; Nashville Predators defenseman Kevin Klein (8) and goalie Anders Lindback (right) attempt to prevent Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ryan Malone (6) from scoring a goal to tie the game in the final minutes of the third period at St. Pete Times Forum. Nashville defeated Tampa Bay 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-US PRESSWIRE

After key number one gets resolved and the season starts, my next key point that will lead to the success of the Tampa Bay Lightning is that the goaltenders need to be better this year.  Last season, Dwayne Roloson and Mathieu Garon combined to give extremely inconsistent results.  Roloson was pretty much below average all season while Garon got stronger as the season went on until a torn groin ended his campaign.  For the Lightning to be successful this year, they need to have better play from the goalies and they will get some help from a new face.

This is where Anders Lindback comes in.  He is a huge netminder standing at 6 foot 6 inches and has been Pekka Rinne’s backup for the last two years in Nashville.  The young Swede has been said to have a large amount of potential and just needs his chance to become the number one goalie.  This will be his moment to shine as he will be given every opportunity to become the top guy that the Bolts have been searching for since Nikolai Khabibulin left after the Stanley Cup victory.  Lindback will have to prove that the Lightning made the right choice in trading for him because if he cannot then the Lightning will be right back where they started; searching for a goalie while struggling on the ice.  Look for Lindback to get around 45-55 starts this year if all goes well, as he will be transitioning into his first year as a starting goalie.

The man who will be picking up the rest of the slack will be Mathieu Garon who we talked about earlier.  Garon had an interesting season last year as he was very streaky, going on some long winning streaks while also struggling to stay in the net at times.  The 34-year old probably could attribute this lack of consistency to his ever changing status as starter and backup.  This season he should have a much more solid grasp on when he will be playing and when he will be sitting on the bench; hopefully because of Lindback’s emergence as a top number one goalie for this team.  One of the biggest keys to next season will be the Lightning’s ability to keep the puck out of their own net, and a big part of that responsibility is going to rest on Lindback and Garon’s shoulders.

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