Tonight marks the first night in what figures to be a season-long discussion about Tampa Bay’s goaltending situation.
And it starts with Anders Lindback.
The lanky Swede will be in net for Tampa’s season opening tilt against Boston on Thursday, head coach Jon Cooper announced. This will mark the second straight season opener Lindback’s started — he began 2013 with a 6-3 win over Washington — and will relegate Ben Bishop, the NHL’s tallest netminder, to a backup position.
The real question now is, will Cooper stick with his assertion that both Lindback and Bishop are his No .1s?
Midway through training camp, the Bolts boss said he would start the year with two starting goalies, adding that he was perfectly fine with a season-long timeshare.
“People are going to say whoever gets the opening-game start must be their starting goalie. Well, he’s starting that night,” Cooper told the Tampa Bay Times.
“If that’s our winning formula,” he said of the potential timeshare, “then that’s how we do it.”
Cooper might’ve been hedging his bets to a certain degree, keeping from putting the pressure of a No. 1 gig on either guy — especially since neither has much experience carrying the load.
Lindback has 62 games of NHL experience and has never played more than 24 in a season; Bishop has 55 games on his resume, never appearing in more than 22 in one year.
While the platoon system might work for a while, former Bolts coach Terry Crisp warns of its potential pitfalls.
“You want them both playing,” Crisp told the Tampa Tribune. “But if I say to (Bishop) take the next three games and Anders has got the next three, what happens if he has three shutouts in a row? Now what do I do?
“I gave my word to the next guy coming in, so it’s a big-time balancing act for the coach. And you better be careful what you promise, because you better live up to it.”