Heading into the season, Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper said he had two No. 1 netminders in Ben Bishop and Anders Lindback.
But with the Lightning now past the quarter pole, that’s hardly been the case.
Bishop’s emerged as Tampa’s clear-cut starter 26 games into the season, relegating Lindback to a backup role. While the Swedish netminder isn’t complaining about the situation, he’s not exactly thrilled with it either.
“There’s not a lot I can do except work hard and try to stay ready,” Lindback told the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s not an easy situation, but that’s the way it is. It’s my job right now, so I have to find a way to stay ready.”
Lindback has only made eight appearances through 26 games this year, posting a 2-5-0 record with a 3.26 GAA and .876 save percentage. Those numbers, combined with the fact Bishop’s been one of the NHL’s best goalies to start the season — playing himself into Team USA Olympic consideration — has made Cooper’s starting goalie decision easy on most nights. Bishop’s played 20 times already and figures to get the majority of the starts moving forward.
The issue, of course, is that Lindback was acquired from Nashville in June 2012 to challenge for a starting gig. Bishop wasn’t around at the time — he was acquired from Ottawa at last year’s deadline — and Cooper has been steadfast in saying the No. 1 gig is still up for grabs, even if Bishop clearly has it in his grasp.
Lindback hopes he’ll have more chances at winning it back.
“I think everyone understands it’s not where I want to be,” Lindback said. “But you can’t go around and be frustrated. It’s not going to help you be better. It’s a matter of keep working and wait for the opportunity.”