Each week Bolts beat reporter Missy Zielinski is grading the Tampa Bay Lightning in the categories of forwards, defense, goaltending, special teams and rookies based on their performance during the 2013-14 season. For Week 2 she is handing Lightning goaltenders their report card:
Bolts Goaltenders (Overall) – A-
The Bolts entered training camp unsure of who their starting netminder was going to be to begin the 2013-14 season and they remained undecided by camp’s end. Anders Lindback eventually earned the nod between the pipes for the season opener, however coach Jon Cooper still went with a rotation, as Ben Bishop manned the crease the very next game. Bishop quickly proved to fit the bill as his five consecutive wins to start the year were a career-best.
Yet it is what the Vezina Finalist did during the grueling stretch of mid-November to the beginning of February that made him really standout as one of the best in his class. With the Lightning Steven Stamkos-less, Bishop made the saves he should in goal, but also the ones he shouldn’t. It kept Tampa Bay as a playoff contender all season long and also helped them to their first playoff berth since the 2010-11 season.
What the Lightning lacked this season though was a stable back-up situation. Yet it did not just lie on Lindback, but the team in front of him too. When Lindback started in net it often seemed as if the Bolts lineup did not play with the same confidence as they did with Bishop, which in turn often caused adverse results.
While Lindback’s status for next season is unknown at this time (he is set to become a restricted free agent), another reason Tampa Bay is in good standing when it comes to its netminding is because of its newly found depth at the position. Bishop is expected to pick up where he left off last year, while the Lightning determine if they will re-sign Lindback or look to free agency for a veteran back-up. Kristers Gudlevskis and Andrei Vasilevskiy are expected to play down on the farm with the Bolts’ AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, and Hobey Baker Finalist Adam Wilcox, another Bolts prospect, should enter his junior year at the University of Minnesota.
Bolts Goaltenders (Individual)
Best in Class: Ben Bishop
Regular Season Numbers: 63 GP, 37-14-7, 5 SO, 2.23 GAA, .924 SV%
Postseason Numbers: n/a
Individual Grade: A-
Needs Improvement: Anders Lindback
Regular Season Numbers: 23 GP, 8-12-2, 1 SO, 2.90 GAA, .891 SV%
Postseason Numbers: 4 GP, 0-3-0, 3.91 GAA, .881 SV%
Individual Grade: C+
Breakout Performer: Kristers Gudlevskis
Regular Season Numbers: 1 GP, 1-0-0, 2.00 GAA, .947 SV%
34 GP, 18-11-4, 5 SO, 2.68 GAA, .901 SV% (Syracuse Crunch)
Postseason Numbers: 2 GP, 0-1-0, 3.00 GAA, .900 SV%
Individual Grade: B
For last week’s grade given to Lightning forwards, click here.
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