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Tampa Bay Lightning 2011-12 Goaltending Preview: The lawn is neatly mown and clipped

Well, it's the goalies' turn. Incipient_Senescence has given us a preview and analysis of the centers and the wingers, and I believe he's at work on the defense as well. So I, your happy goalie freak, bring you the netminders. What can we expect in net this year?

 

Despite going into the offseason with none of the top three positions clear and no one signed to fill the top of the depth chart. JM Steve Yzerman & Co., have done a great job getting the position squared away. While many of us have bemoaned the loss of NHL-ready prospect Cedrick Desjardins, we actually go into this upcoming season with fewer questions than we had in July. Dwayne Roloson will return for another year, bringing experience and vision to the hunt for the Cup. Behind him, Mathieu Garon will be a solid presence in the locker room and when called on to spell Roli. The depth chart actually gets a little crowded behind Garon, with Dustin Tokarski, Jaroslav Janus, and Pat Nagle all expected to compete for spots in Norfolk this year. The youngster of the group is 2011 draftee Adam Wilcox, still several years out from any possible NHL spot.

 

What follows is a blissfully light-on-the-numbers analysis of each goaltender and why you should love them (or not, your choice, really.)

 

Dwayne Roloson: Okay, this one is the easiest to do. You already know him; you already love him (at least you do if you want to stay on my good side). He's the bee's knees, the cat's pajamas; he's groovy, ya dig? (Get it? He's old.)

 

SEASON

TEAM

GP

W

L

OT + SO

SV%

GAA

MIN

2010-2011

Islanders

20

6

13

1

0.916

2.64

1206

2010-2011

Lightning

34

18

12

8

0.912

2.56

1993

NHL TOTALS

 

566

214

241

79

0.910

2.65

32198

 

  • Style: a solid, efficient hybrid style that's still butterfly-dominant. Technically very good with elite-level vision (He's been training his visual processing for years, and it pays off.)

  • Pluses: Roli plays a truly economical and efficient style that will help to minimize fatigue and prevent injury. Is able to see the entire ice extremely well and is very good at tracking the puck. If he sees it, he can stop it. Mentally tough and able to manage the emotional aspects of the game very well. Steady, calming demeanor. One of the top playoff goalies in the league.

  • Issues: He is, in fact, aging and it will slow him down some, both laterally and in recovering his stance. Both of these concerns can be exacerbated by fatigue. He needs to stay on his skates more to compensate. Average to below-average puck handling. Has always been fairly streaky throughout his career. And of course there's that temper. It doesn't happen often but when he loses it, he loses it.

  • What I'll be watching: There's a lot of fun things I plan to look out for. First, whether he allows opponents to dictate his positioning in his own crease. He will be screened aggressively throughout the season, so his positioning and angles must be clean. (Cue "GET OFF MY LAWN!" jokes here.) How he communicates with his teammates, particularly his d-men will be the key to clearing rebounds and taking away shooting lanes.  Also watch for his clock management—when and where he'll choose to stop the puck for a whistle and when he'll catch and drop to maintain momentum and stymie a developing forecheck. He's very, very good at this. Pay attention to his depth, too. He generally tries to play along the top of the crease, so if he's out around the hashmarks it could mean the play is breaking open.

 

Mathieu Garon: Brought in to be the 1B to Roli's 1A. Expect around 30 starts. A right-catching goalie with incredible flexibility and foot skills. He's been on 5 (now 6) teams since 2000, but has never really clicked anywhere. The good news is that his best year was in Edmonton in 2007-2008, playing with none other than Dwayne Roloson (26-18-5 in 47 games, 0.913 SV%, 2.66 GAA).

 

SEASON

TEAM

GP

W

L

OT + SO

SV%

GAA

MIN

2010-2011

Blue Jackets

36

10

14

9

0.901

2.72

1938

NHL TOTALS

 

275

116

106

41

0.904

2.82

14947

 

  • Style: A standard butterfly-dominant goalie, Garon uses his feet well and has an active glove. Often plays well into the paint, even into the net mouth on tight goal-line plays, but is willing to challenge quite high on breakaways and in shootouts. A narrow stance enhances his lateral mobility. He has a tendency to drop down low quickly, sealing off the ice. Oh, and right-catching goalies are, for unknown reasons, rather unusual in the NHL.

  • Pluses: Well, there's that Cup ring—deep playoff experience that can only help the team this year. I suspect he was hired as much for his locker-room presence as his on-ice skills. Calm, unruffled, confident. Considered one of the finest shootout goalies in the league, which will make for some post-OT fun. Garon is extremely flexible, particularly in the legs and feet. He's also had many years as a backup, and he knows the role very well. He understands what's expected of him and is very willing to give that.

  • Issues: The big issue for Garon has been consistency. Everything I've read about him indicates that he's a rhythm goalie, a guy who may need to have several starts in a row to get into a groove. Without knowing ahead of time when or how much he'll be playing, this could be a problem for him.

  • What I'll be watching: Aside from positioning, tracking, etc., I'm going to be watching to see how he handles the "rhythm" aspect this year. How will he adjust to the low number of shots the team gives up and to the game rotation? And take notes on how he holds his stick—textbook. By the way, I'm not kidding about this guy's flexibility. You could try to count the number of times he does the splits, or you could just sit there with your mouth hanging open. It's unreal. Just don't try making it a drinking game. Seriously. You'll pass out and miss the 3rd period.

Dustin Tokarksi: Was the #4 goalie in the system until the departure of Cedrick Desjardins this offseason. He's now expected to be the starter in Norfolk this year, proving his durability and improving his stats. This may be Tik's make-or-break year, his chance to show that he really is Tampa Bay's future.

 

SEASON

TEAM

GP

W

L

OT

SV%

GAA

MIN

2010-2011

Norfolk Admirals

46

21

20

4

0.901

2.65

2691

  • Style: [Note: It is astonishingly difficult to find good video on Tokarski, so I still haven't seen nearly as much of him as I'd like to. About the only observation I am comfortable making based on the less than 10 total minutes of footage I could turn up is that he has very fast feet while he tends to be a bit stiffer in the upper body than I'd like to see. Again, less than 10 total minutes of actual footage. Consequently, much of this analysis comes from other people, who have seen more of him.] Butterfly-dominant style, tendency to drop low, very agile in legs and feet, extremely quick feet and great lateral movement.

  • Pluses: Poised and calm, considered a "big game" goalie, able to track and get square to the puck very well.

  • Issues: Size—at only 5'11'', Tokarski will need to be able to adjust to block off the top of the net against NHL shooters. Some scouts say he has a tendency to drop into his butterfly too quickly. May  lose focus late in games, especially when his team has the lead. Considered a rhythm goalie who will need consistency in starts in order to stay at the top of his game (the more he plays the better he plays.)

  • What to watch for: Tik needs to show both durability and adaptability this season. Neither should be all that difficult. He can and should put up better than last year's .901 SV% in Norfolk, and he'll need to do so to show that he's the legit future starter for the NHL club. If he progresses like he seems poised to, I wouldn't be surprised to see him backing up Garon in 2012-13, but I'd be wary of pushing him too fast into a starting role in the NHL. Again, all of this depends on his ability to 1) adjust to a faster game with bigger screens, and 2) figure out how to compensate for his size, possibly through challenging further out or developing a more active glove and shoulders. This adjustment needs to start this year in Norfolk.

 

Jaroslav Janus: Assigned to Norfolk midseason, Janus is possibly in competition with Pat Nagle for the Admirals' backup spot behind Tokarski, with Janus's experience giving him an edge. A good training camp will set him up as the #4 in the depth chart and successor to Tokarski.

 

SEASON

TEAM

GP

W

L

OT

SV%

GAA

MIN

2010-2011

Florida Everblades

27

12

13

 

0.912

306

1491

2010-2011

Norfolk Admirals

9

2

5

1

0.872

3.64

478

  • Janus is known for his flexibility and aggressive challenges.

  • I really like this guy. Athletic and smart, a goalie who is huge fun to watch, and who trusts his instincts. He is not that big and he is not quick, but somehow he makes the saves. Lightning Director of Amateur Scouting Jim Hammett said he had "a little bit of Hasek" in him, referring to his tendency toward "flopping around" in the crease. Janus relies more on reading and reacting to the play than on technique and percentages to make the stop. Technically imperfect but effective, although not a great way to conserve energy for a long run.

  • Last year's numbers in Norfolk should be an aberration, given his otherwise solid work there (2.07 GAA and .922 SV% in 2009-10), in Erie (2.81 and .918 in 2009-10), and with the Everblades (3.06 and .912 while battling injury in 2010-11).

  • A little stability for Janus could go a long way this year. He'll need to work on rebound control and might need to stay on his skates a bit more to add quickness.

Watch in particular from about 5:15 to 6:30 to see how his style can both help and hinder his team.

 

Other goalies in the system:

  • Pat Nagle: Nagle played four years in the CCHA at Ferris State University. He signed a two-year two-way deal wiht the Lightning in March. He's bigger and older than Janus and Tokarski, and could challenge for the backup job in Norfolk. Training camp will tell for Nagle.

  • Adam Wilcox: The 19-year-old Wilcox was drafted this summer and is committed to the University of Minnesota.

  • Riku Helenius: Helenius was an RFA at the end of the 2010-11 season. BoltsProspects lists him as an unsigned prospect. He is currently playing in Sweden, and while it is possible that the organization could call on him, his future with Tampa Bay seems uncertain at best.

This post was written by a member of the Raw Charge community and does not necessarily represent or express the views or opinions of Raw Charge staff.

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