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The Puck Stops Here

When Goaltending Falls Apart

Last season the Tampa Bay Lightning finished fifth in the East Conference with 103 points and made the semi-finals.  Throughout the much of the regular season they did not have great goaltending.  They started the year with Dan Ellis and Mike Smith in goal.  Neither of them performed like they belonged in the NHL.  In January things changed.  The Lightning were able to trade for Dwayne Roloson from the New York Islanders.  Roloson was their answer in goal.  He posted a solid .912 saves percentage and a 2.56 GAA in the regular season and a .924 saves percentage and a 2.51 GAA in the playoffs.  The problem was Roloson was a 41 year old veteran and sooner or later he would slow down.

It appears his slow down has been this season.  At age 42, Roloson is posting a league worst .883 saves percentage and 3.72 GAA.  Tampa Bay has dropped out of the playoff race as this happened.  They currently sit in 12th place in the East Conference with a 17-20 record with three regulation tie points.

Mathieu Garon, who has proven himself to be a backup with limited ability as a starter has taken over as the Tampa Bay number one goalie.  It is a stop gap solution which will have to soon be fixed if Tampa is to make anything out of this season.

The loss of their goaltending is a big part of the reason that Tampa Bay has allowed about 0.4 more goals per game this year than they did last year.  Over the course of the 37 games played so far this is about 15 extra goals allowed.  Their offence has also slowed down a bit.  They have dropped by almost 0.2 goals per game.  The largest single reason for this decline is Martin St Louis slowing down.  Last season he was the second highest scorer in the NHL with 99 points.  This year he has been limited to 32 games and is slightly below point per game pace with 30 points.

The biggest single reason for Tampa Bay’s decline so far this season is poor goaltending.  Roloson has been the worst goalie in the league so far this year.  He was an above average starting goalie last year.  That is a significant drop.  At age 42 it is unlikely that he is going to bounce back, although it is quite possible he can improve his game.  Tampa Bay is currently six points out of a playoff spot and the season is not yet half over, so all is not lost.  Tampa must have better goaltending to make up that difference.  Without a good trade made soon, I do not think that is likely to happen.

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Slumpy's avatar

Stevie Y should try to trade for the Canucks Schneider. They got Loungo and Lack is good too in the AHL. Van sitting on three very good goalies. I they are guess waiting to get offered fort knox of players trade offer for one of their three netminders not named Loungo.
Not surprised Rolo hitting the wall. Age catches up to us all.  Canucks need more grit like a Downie perhaps or Malone.
Yzerman I doubt will sit on his hands and ride out the season with Rolo/Garon.

Posted by Slumpy from Under My Wheels on 01/03/12 at 04:44 PM ET

Da lil Guy's avatar

Adding Downie to the Canucks. There’s a scary thought.

I think Bernier is the one to go after - Downie could be trade bait for LA if they think he might fill some of the hole Simmonds left.

Posted by Da lil Guy from Guelph, Ontario on 01/03/12 at 06:52 PM ET


One way of looking at this situation is that if Schneider is playing for the Bolts instead of Roloson.  Assuming the same save percentage, the Lightning are ahead by the difference in save percentage (.931 for Schneider, .883 for Roloson) multiplied by the shots Roloson has faced (486 to date) = 23.32 less goals against for those 18 games he has played in (actually started 15).  If Schneider is in net instead, Tampa has a 1.3 goals against drop (1.55 in games started).  I do not know of any forward in the league that can give Tampa the same advantage that Schneider offers on a per game basis, let alone the delicious prospect of that lucrative playoff revenue.  Perhaps Downie and a healthy Hedman is a more reasonable offer for what a good goalie offers.  If you have a counter offer, please give us the math (and not a deranged rant).
By the way, if Howard was the goalie going to Tampa, their goals against drops by 1.55 (1.81 in games that Roloson has started).  And that is easily worth Stamkos!

Posted by MattinSurrey on 01/03/12 at 07:34 PM ET


That may just be the worst arguement I have ever seen in my whole life.  If you want to try and use math and science to make arguments like that you better google what dependent and independent variables are.  To use simple math like that and try and use it as a valid argument is simply ridiculous and I’m seriously upset I wasted my time reading and responding to an answer like that lol

Posted by Jeff from Ontario on 01/03/12 at 07:59 PM ET


The math may not be regression analysis but it illustrates what a competent goalie brings to a team.  Or, if you choose, the grief and sheer terror that a struggling netminder can cause.
I’m clearly not the only one that thinks this way.  If you look at Colorado’s trade with Washington last summer they gave up a first and second round draft pick for a similar goalie.  That first round pick may be a lottery if the Avalanche don’t have a great second half (especially on the road where they have more games).  If Varlamov develops as projected, it will still be a good trade for the Avalanche, though getting rid of Craig Anderson (and then Brian Elliott) is a head scratcher (albeit in hindsight).
It’s a delicate situation for Stevie Y - he needs to get a goalie now if there is any hope of making the playoffs. Another two weeks of his teams’s current pace and they will be 9 to 10 points behind the last playoff seed, too much to make up, even if Jacques Lemaire were coaxed out of retirement.

Posted by MattinSurrey on 01/03/12 at 11:08 PM ET

Bossy_Rules's avatar

Comparing Roloson’s goals allowed and then comparing them to what another netminder would have allowed if he faced the same shots and had whatever save % he had so far this year and then suggesting that a trade should bring a player equal in value to that difference is ridiculous.  Roloson has been horrible.  A replacement level goalie has been significantly better but that doesn’t mean that the Lightning need to part with an asset of significant value to acquire a replacement level goalie.  You don’t look at the difference in the guy your are trading away from your team and the guy he would be replacing on that other team to get his value.  His value is what it is based on league-wide norms and the scarcity and value of his ability.  Just because Tampa has had abysmal goaltending so far this year doesn’t mean that a team trading them a goalie deserves more in return than if they traded that goalie to some other team with less awful goaltending.  Really, really bad logic there.  It seems you don’t really understand how markets work.

Posted by Bossy_Rules on 01/06/12 at 07:58 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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