With just 38 career appearances heading into this season, Anders Lindback was a promising yet somewhat unknown commodity, especially as a potential starting netminder.
That’s why Lightning head coach Guy Boucher is riding the 24-year-old hard to start the season — and plans to keep riding him throughout the shortened campaign.
“We have a youngster we’re trying to groom and give him ice time,” Boucher told the St. Petersburg Times. “There are a few games I could have thrown Mathieu [Garon] out there, but the plan is to give [Lindback] as many games as we can so he can catch up on the games he’s missed the last two years.”
Lindback’s never played more than 22 games in a season, though he did have a stretch during the 2010-11 campaign where he started nine straight games while Pekka Rinne was out with a knee injury.
This year, he was in goal for six of Tampa’s first seven games — Garon made just his second appearance in Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the Rangers — but the expectations in Tampa are different from those in Nashville.
Now, Lindback’s expected to be the starter.
His numbers haven’t been great this season, posting a 2.83 GAA and .911 save percentage. But he’s done well in the most important statistical category — wins (five) — and is showing progress en route to becoming a No. 1 netminder.
“The players know he’s a young goaltender that’s learning,” Boucher said. “But he’s learning real fast.”