Boston Bruins v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Six

Another big question answered: Lightning hand Dwayne Roloson one-year deal worth $3M

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To some extent, it seemed like Dwayne Roloson couldn’t ever really get a fair shake in the NHL. Roloson fought his way into the NHL after going undrafted, bouncing from the Calgary Flames to the Buffalo Sabres before finding a little stability in Minnesota. That being said, he dealt with an unstable goalie rotation alongside Manny Fernandez with the Wild as Jacques Lemaire pulled the two goalies at the drop of a hat during the team’s only deep playoff run in 2003.

It seemed like Roloson found a real home in Edmonton starting in the 2005-06 season, though. Even so, that stay was tinged with some disappointment too. Roloson was the second most valuable Oilers player behind Chris Pronger during their magical run to the 2006 Stanley Cup finals, but he never returned after suffering an injury during Game 1 of that championship series against the Carolina Hurricanes. Roloson played pretty well on some bad Oilers and New York Islanders teams after that brief taste of success, but it seemed like he would finish his career with more “What if?” questions than great memories.

Finding a home in Tampa Bay

That seemed to be the case until the Tampa Bay Lightning’s goalie issues forced them to trade for Roloson midway through the 2010-11 season. He wasn’t a superstar for the Bolts in his 34 regular season games, but he provided them with much-needed stability and occasionally brilliant work leading up to the playoffs.

Of course, you probably know what happened in the postseason. Roloson brought the Lightning to within one win of their second-ever run to the Stanley Cup finals and was brilliant for most of the playoffs, winning 10 games and sporting an outstanding .924 save percentage.

Still, at 41-years-old, there were some questions as to whether the Lightning would stick with their aging netminder. Those questions can be put to rest now that Yzerman and Roloson agreed to an everyone-wins one-year deal worth $3 million. That constitutes a $500K yearly raise from his previous two-year, $5 million contract but the Lightning benefit from the reduced risk of a single season contract.

Roloson still needs a backup

To be honest, the Lightning might not be crazy to re-sign Mike Smith to be his backup, either … if he’s willing to take a substantial pay cut from his previous $2.2 million cap hit. Smith’s puck-moving skills were a nice fit for head coach Guy Boucher’s defensive system, so he might be a decent option for a Bolts team that might not be ready to push Cedrick Desjardins to a backup role next season. Of course, the Lightning could always find another backup, but Smith holds the advantage of being familiar with the franchise and coaching staff.

Either way, the Lightning would be wise to find a goalie who can spell Roloson. At his advanced age, he probably should be limited to 60 starts next season. (It’s not like limiting starts only works for older guys either; Vezina Trophy candidate Roberto Luongo only played 60 games in the 2010-11 regular season and that worked out pretty well for the Vancouver Canucks.)

Yzerman still has a lot of work to do

As we’d discussed a few times already, the Lightning have a lot of questions going into July 1, but they’re starting to knock down questions like a high stakes game of “Guess Who?”. With Roloson, Eric Brewer, Adam Hall and Marc-Andre Bergeron locked up, the Bolts can focus on the mammoth Steven Stamkos re-signing, figuring out what to do with Ted Purcell/Sean Bergenheim and whether or not they want to bring Simon Gagne back.

That’s still a tough set of decisions, but at least Yzerman answered what might have been the second most important question of a challenging off-season by bringing back Roloson.

The Panthers are healthy scratching Bolland, and he is their highest-paid forward, but they insist they’re not sending a message

Dave Bolland, Derek Nansen
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It feels like there’s a story brewing in Florida, where Dave Bolland — the team’s most-expensive forward, at $5.5 million a season — has been a healthy scratch for three consecutive games.

But according to head coach Gerard Gallant, there’s nothing to see here. Move along.

“There’s nothing to talk about,” Gallant said, per the Miami Herald. “He sat out, our team is playing well. There’s nothing more than that. We have to sit two guys and I like the way we’re playing. The next game is a different game. We may change something up, who knows.”

Bolland had just one goal and five points in 18 games prior to getting parked in the press box. Well, technically he got dropped to the fourth line before hitting the press box, but you get the idea. He’s not exactly in Gallant’s good graces.

Not helping Bolland’s case is the fact that, as Gallant pointed out, the club is playing pretty well without him. The Panthers have rebounded from a rough start to November by winning back-to-back games against the Islanders and Red Wings, which set them up nicely for the remainder of this current five-game road swing.

Florida has games still to play in St. Louis, Nashville, Columbus and New Jersey. It’ll be interesting to see when — or, if — he draws back into the lineup.

In closing, a reminder that Bolland’s in the second of a five-year, $27.5 million deal.

Canucks rookie Virtanen exits with upper-body injury, won’t return


After sitting out Friday’s game in Dallas, Vancouver’s Jake Virtanen had to be excited at drawing back in for tonight’s game against the Ducks.

Unfortunately, the excitement didn’t last long.

Virtanen suffered an upper-body injury after playing just 1:45 in the opening frame, and was ruled out of the contest during the intermission. It’s unclear exactly what happened, but it looks like Virtanen was injured on a hit by Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf.

Virtanen didn’t take another shift following the incident, and Getzlaf was given a minor penalty on the play.

While we don’t know what the injury is or it’s severity, losing Virtanen for any length of time would have ramifications for the Canucks and this year’s Canadian entry at the World Juniors. There has been talk of Virtanen possibly being released by the Canucks to participate in the tournament; last year, he was part of the team that captured gold in Montreal and Toronto.

Virtanen has played in 18 games for the Canucks this year, scoring one goal and four points while averaging 10:17 TOI per night.

McLellan sounds off on Oilers after shutout loss in Toronto

Todd McLellan

Edmonton lost for the fourth time in five games on Monday, a 3-0 defeat in Toronto that marked the second time in a week the Oilers have been shut out.

Needless to say, the head coach wasn’t happy.

In a fairly blunt and harsh assessment aimed at a variety of players, Todd McLellan had some choice words for what he called a “disappointing” effort.

Some of the more choice quotes:

“I didn’t think we were a very hard team. I didn’t think we stood over a lot of pucks. I didn’t think we won a lot of battles along the boards. I didn’t think we were competitive enough in a lot of areas.”

“When I look at the trip as a whole, we had some key, key people really under-perform on the trip. Significant minus numbers, not hitting the score sheet. It can’t always be the [Leon DraisaitlTaylor Hall line] that provides that.”

It’s fair to suggest that last one was directed at Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle.

Nugent-Hopkins has just two points and zero goals in his last five games, with a minus-8 rating. Eberle is pointless entirely, and also at minus-8 over the same stretch.

They’re hardly the only Oilers not pulling their weight at the moment, however. Edmonton has lost 15 times in its first 25 games, a figure that suggests there are more problems that just a couple of underachieving forwards.

Just ask McLellan, who all but admitted his team has issues matching up.

“We’re not where we need to be,” he said. “We’ve got work to do as a team, work to do as an organization to get bigger, stronger, harder, and physically win more battles than we lose.”

Roy: Avs ‘need, expect more’ from Varlamov


The tough times continue for Semyon Varlamov.

After another unsuccessful outing on Monday — allowing four goals on 27 shots in a loss to the Islanders — Varlamov was subjected to a familiar refrain: Patrick Roy saying the Avs need more from their No. 1 netminder.


You can hear all of the head coach’s comments in the video above but, for brevity’s sake, here’s the Varlamov stuff:

“It’s not easy for him. Obviously we need that extra save and we didn’t get it on the road. It’s hard to win if you’re giving four goals on the road.

“We just need more from him. He’s our No. 1 guy and we’re behind him, but we need, we expect more from him.”

There has to be serious concern about Varlamov right now, if there wasn’t already.

His save percentage through seven games in November (.891) is marginally better than it was through seven games in October (.889), and that’s not the only alarming stat. Varlamov’s yet to record a shutout this year, yet to record back-to-back victories and has given up at least three goals in six of his last seven starts.

Not good.

Compounding things for Colorado are the standings. The Avs are now 9-14-1 and mired in the Central Division basement, meaning that — if they have any hope of going on a tear and getting back into playoff content — they’ll need to do it soon.

Which means they might not have the time, or the patience, for Varlamov to find his game.