Dwayne Roloson was lights out in the Pittsburgh series, particularly in games 1, 2, and 7. Without his commercial-worthy shutout, we don't close out the Pens. I understand that. I bought the "Get Off My Lawn" t-shirt. But I keep hearing that the Lightning are just riding a hot goalie into the conference finals. That is false. Yes, Roloson's .941 save percentage in the playoffs is outstanding and leads all goaltenders. But, game seven aside, Roloson is not carrying the team. He's playing well--better indeed than he did during the regular season. But he's not playing unsustainably well, and he's not carrying the team by himself. The team is being carried by a combination of Roloson, St. Louis, Lecavalier, and a host of others (see: the entire third line). A couple other statistics for you:
- *Roloson's save percentage in the Washington series: .924
- *Tampa's goals per game in that series: 4.00
- *Roloson's save percentage in the last nine games (sans game seven): .928
- *Tampa's goals per game in that stretch: 4.00
I took out game seven because he carried us in that game, and I think we'll all admit that. But the playoffs have been more than that game, and I'd like to look at the rest. Both of those save percentages are good, but neither are ridiculous. Roloson's save percentage during the regular season was .914, so this is an improvement. But it's not an unreasonable one if, for instance, he plays better under pressure. And it's not the sort of godlike performance that we can't expect him to maintain. .928 would put him third among playoff goalies, .924 would put him fourth. In the regular season, these were the sorts of numbers put up by Jonas Hiller and Henrik Lundqvist. Strong, but they still lag far behind Pekka Rinne and Tim Thomas. Not "hot goaltender carrying the team" strong.
So Roloson is the best in the playoffs overall, and still in the top grouping without his best performance. That's pretty damn good, even if I dispute the claim that it's unsustainable. But in order to see whether he's carrying the team, you have to look at what everyone else is doing. And when you're scoring four goals per game, you win no matter who's in goal (with the possible exceptions of Mike Smith and Dan Ellis circa Fall of 2010). Tampa Bay is #1 in the league in goals per game during the playoffs with 3.53. The Bolts have four skaters in the top ten in points (St. Louis at T3, Lecavalier at T6, Downie at T6, Purcell at T10). Only one other team has more than one (Boston has Bergeron at T6 and Marchant at T10). And that doesn't even mention Sean Bergenheim, who, along with Joel Ward, Danny Briere, and James van Riemsdyk, is tied for the most goals in the playoffs. Just because our goalie is lighting it up doesn't mean the rest of the team is slacking.
So, let's all give Roloson his props. Buy t-shirts. Continue photoshop glory. But next time you hear that he's carried the Lightning, make sure you mention how Marty, Vinny, Teddy Purcell, Steve Downie, and IsBerg are doing their fair share of carrying as well.