During the entirety of the offseason, the question was posed…who would be the Tampa Bay Lightning’s number one goaltender heading into the new season? Unfortunately, no one seemed to have an answer for this question. So, now I pose the question to you: Ben Bishop or Anders Lindback…who is your goalie?
To be honest with you, neither one of them had a fair shake last season.
First of all, the season was cut in half thanks to the NHL Lockout. I don’t know about you, but hearing that phrase still burns a little.
Now, Ben Bishop was acquired by the Lightning late in the season in a trade that saw star rookie Cory Conacher head to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Bishop. He was only able to play in 9 games for the Lightning last season. In that time, he went 3-4-1-1 with a Goals Against Average of 2.99 and a Save Percentage of .917.
On the other hand, Anders Lindback was acquired in a trade with the Nashville Predators in the offseason prior to the lockout. He went 10-10-1 in the 24 appearances that he made last season with a GAA of 2.90 and a Save Percentage of .902. It should also be noted that Lindback was forced to miss a string of game towards the end of last season thanks to an ankle sprain.
This season the numbers tell an entirely different story. One of their numbers has been on the rise, and that other has taken a disappointing dive.
So far this season, Bishop is four for four in his appearances with the Lightning this season. He is maintaining a GAA of 1.71 and a Save Percentage of .939.
On the other hand, Lindback has lost both of his encounters thus far this season. The first of which was the 3-1 loss to the Boston Bruins during the Lightning’s season opener, and the other was on October 12th versus the Pittsburgh Penguins while Bishop was listed as Day to Day with minor injuries. The Lightning lost that encounter 5-4. Lindback currently maintains a GAA of 4.07 and a Save Percentage of .843.
Now, while I will concede that a loss is not entirely the fault of the goaltender. There are other factors that come into play, like the defense’s ability to block shots, or silly turnovers in the defensive zone, and so much more. However, with a difference in numbers like this, it begs the question if he is ready to be the Lightning’s starting goaltender.
I will say that it is rather early in the season to be making any hasty decision; however, if you asked me to make a choice right now as to who the Lightning’s starting goaltender should be, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the job would go to Ben Bishop.
This puts Lindback in a rather precarious position. At the end of this season, his contract with the Lightning will come to an end, and he will be a Restricted Free Agent. Right now, we have 3 goaltenders in our developmental system that could be factored into the equation; 2 of which are currently playing with our AHL affiliate Syracuse Crunch and one that is with our ECHL affiliate, the Florida Everblades.
Should the Lightning decide to move Lindback at some point either during or after the season, both Riku Helenius and Cedrick Desjardins could be considered for the backup role here in Tampa. However, I am getting way ahead of myself.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike Anders Lindback, but if his level of play doesn’t improve over the course of the season, then I am sure that Jon Cooper will be forced to make a decision for the greater good.