Anders Lindback is 0-2 through two playoff games with a 3.69 goals-against average, a .880 save percentage and was yanked during Friday’s defeat to Montreal — yet according to Bolts head coach Jon Cooper, all’s well in Tampa’s goal.
Jon Cooper says he made the goalie change to spark his team. “We needed something. … There’s no goaltending controversy here.”
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) April 19, 2014
There will undoubtedly be some people disagreeing with Cooper, especially those that saw his move to Kristers Gudlevskis with just under six minutes remaining as a possible series introduction for the Latvian netminder.
Have to think Jon Cooper is setting Kristers Gudlevskis up to start Game 3.
— Аrpon Basu (@ArponBasu) April 19, 2014
To be fair, Lindback isn’t to blame for Tampa losing both games at home to start the series. The Lightning were sloppy and made defensive mistakes throughout Game 1 and failed to generate consistent offensive pressure in Game 2, coming within two minutes of being shut out before Teddy Purcell snapped a power play marker past Carey Price to break the goose egg.
That said, it’s clear Tampa isn’t getting the same goaltending it enjoyed during the regular season with Ben Bishop manning the net. The NHL’s tallest netminder put forth a Vezina-caliber season, going 37-14-7 (4th in the NHL in wins) with a 2.23 GAA (7th), .924 save percentage (7th) and five shutouts (5th).
It’ll be very interesting to see if Cooper considers going with Gudlevskis for Game 3. While the 21-year-old is raw and inexperienced, he did wow onlookers at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, nearly orchestrating an upset of Canada in the quarterfinals by stopping 55 of 57 shots in what Price called “one of the best goaltending performances I’ve ever seen in a long time.”