Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Tampa's "fixed" goaltending; West still interesting

Roloson blown the eff out in loss to Buffalo
Incoming rants.

OK, so remember when everyone was talking about how Dwayne Roloson was the hottest goalie in the league and Tampa Bay solved its goaltending issues because of Roloson? Yeah, about that.

Inconsistency is not great. Inconsistency doesn't solve anything. And Roloson is either spectacular or spectacularly awful. The latest example came Tuesday, when he let in seven goals on 28 shots as Buffalo routed Tampa Bay, 7-4. Once again, as I've discussed before, the Lightning are prone to giving up a ton of goals.

Yes, Roloson has four shutouts in 13 starts with Tampa Bay and had given up only five goals in the last two weeks. His goals against average in eight wins is a stunning 0.73, if my math is right (six goals allowed.) Yet when he's bad, he's just as bad as he is good. In five losses, Roloson has given up 25 goals. He's given up at least four in each of those losses.

Is that really solving Tampa Bay's goaltending problem? Sure, if you catch him when he's on fire. What if he turns into a sieve right around playoff time? Then what?

Anyway, Drew Stafford had a hat trick and Thomas Vanek chipped in two goals and an assist for Buffalo. Which brings me to my next rant.

I turned the end of the game on XM radio with the score 5-3. The Lightning radio guys were bitching about a controversial goal by Jordan Leopold (three points) when Stafford lost his balance and tripped Roloson. Whoever does play by play said Buffalo grabbed momentum from that play, which tied the score at 3-3.

You know what? The Lightning gave up SIX STRAIGHT GOALS after leading 3-1. They gave up five goals in the third period. This is not the first time they've been blown out of the water (and by a non-playoff team to boot) as I illustrated in the above link. A team with defensive lapses played Marc-Andre Bergeron, infamous for being a major defensive liability, 17 minutes. He was a minus-4. So don't give me any BS about that one play. It took six minutes from the time it was 3-3 for the Sabres to go ahead 4-3, but it only took 1:46 for the lead to become 6-3.

If you want to be taken seriously, you can't be giving up so many goals so many different times.

By the way, I hereby name the Lightning radio duo as the worst set of commentators in sports. They are just horrid. Absolutely horrid. I had to turn the game off after the three minutes my friend and I were listening to it.

On the bright side for the Lightning, Vincent Lecavalier had two goals and an assist and Sean Bergenheim scored twice.

St. Louis, Columbus get key road wins
Two teams in the West needing two important points got them, meaning we still have just one dead team in that conference.
--Steve Mason made 32 saves and Rick Nash and Jakub Voracek each had a goal and assist to lead Columbus over Pittsburgh, 4-1. The Penguins have scored one goal in 120 minutes since learning of Evgeni Malkin's season-ending fate and did not play with its healthy leading goal scorer, Chris Kunitz, who was a late scratch. Tyler Kennedy became the team's seventh player with 10 goals but he's one of only three who suited up Tuesday. Three others are out for quite a while still.

--Matt D'Agostini scored with four minutes left in regulation and St. Louis edged Florida, 2-1. Jaroslav Halak made 30 saves. The Blues and Blue Jackets remain in striking distance of eighth place.

Goalie du jour
Let's start up the new "hottest goalie in the league" talk for Antti Niemi, who posted his second straight shutout with 25 saves in San Jose's 2-0 win over Washington. Logan Couture and Dan Boyle scored in the final 8:05 of the third period.

The bottom-feeders
--Toronto, playing its fifth game in eight nights, got a break when Islanders starter Kevin Poulin suffered an injury in warmups and New York had to go with Mikko Koskinen, who made his NHL debut. The Maple Leafs scored on their first two shots and went on to earn a 5-3 win. Colby Armstrong had a goal and two assists to lead the attack and James Reimer made 31 saves.
--After fellow rookie Nick Palmieri forced overtime with a late goal in regulation, Mattias Tedenby scored his second goal of the game to give New Jersey a 3-2 win over Carolina. Johan Hedberg made 20 saves for the red-hot Devils. In typical Jacques Lemaire fashion, he wasn't happy about anything with his team's play.

--I wonder if Ray Shero makes some kind of panic trade to induce offense into the Pittsburgh lineup, which has pretty much zero playmaking ability right now. It's like the 2003-04 season all over again. Grinders can carry a team only so far. You need two or three guys with actual talent to produce offense on most nights and right now, the Penguins don't even have one player like that. They might go out and score five on Los Angeles Thursday but when the current team needs one goal "right now", I don't know who steps onto the ice.

--Important point for the Hurricanes but an even more important point they gave up. Big two points for Buffalo too.

--We're not really going to start talking about playoffs with Toronto and New Jersey, are we?


Nathan Wells said...

Rollie's problem was that he ended up playing with his emotions. He went apeshit after being railroaded on the tying Leopold goal along with the rest of the team and then let in two soft goals (although one was an own-goal by Hedman). If that doesn't happen, it's a different game; however the fact that it did is what bothers me. When players don't control themselves and play with anger, they are bound to not perform at their best.

KiPA - Kevin in PA said...

Valid point. That's not the first time Roloson has lost his composure either. I've seen him lose it or almost lose it on a few other occasions. I'd say it's something to at least think about come playoff time if not be outright concerned.