A tale of two goalies; Lightning versus Anaheim Ducks preview

Dan Ellis latest problem? Gruin injury.

WHERE: Tampa Bay Times Forum, Tampa, Florida
WHEN: 7:30 PM EST | | TICKETS: Check Availability
MEDIA: Sun Sports (cable), 970 WFLA (radio)
OPPONENT COVERAGE: Anaheim Calling

In two consecutive off-seasons, the Tampa Bay Lightning signed a goalie with the intention of said free-agent netminder sharing responsibilities with an established goalie that was already on the roster. In 2010, the signing was Dan Ellis. In 2011, the signing was Mathieu Garon.

The similarities seem to start differentiating from that point forward: Ellis, the outspoken "specialist" of a goaltender, shared starting duties with Mike Smith and ... well, both goalies failed to establish themselves as legitimate netminders. Ellis' save percentage (.889) and goals-against average (2.93) were disappointing at best. With the tandem of Smith/Ellis so befuddling, the Bolts acquired Dwayne Roloson to bring some consistency to the crease. This ultimately led to Ellis being unloaded via trade to the Anaheim Ducks.

Mathieu Garon took a much different path after being signed to back up Roloson in Tampa. The plan was for Roloson to get the majority of the starts, with Garon lightening the load for the veteran netminder.... Yet, even the best laid plans sometimes get changed, and roles sometimes get reversed. It's Garon who has been the Lightning's #1 netminder this season, with Roloson replacing him in the lineup from time to time. While the Garon/Roloson tandem has been unsound at times, Garon's 2.83 GAA and .903 save percentage in 41 games this season show (statistically) that he's trumped what Dan Ellis accomplished in Tampa... Behind what could be argued as a weaker lineup.

Garon starts in net tonight for the Lightning while Ellis is out of the Anaheim lineup with a torn groin. He had only 10 appearances this season prior to his January injury.

The Lightning news of note for today is the status of Captain Vincent Lecavalier. Vinny is out, indefinitely, with an "upper-body injury" that appears to be an injury to his right hand/wrist. He may not even travel with the team on their upcoming three game road trip.

This nullifies the target date for Lecavalier to reach 1000 career games played. The due-date before his injury was against the Ottawa Senators at home on March 6th. But for the moment, the countdown stops at 992 games played.

Left wing Trevor Smith was recalled from the Norfolk Admirals in response to the injury. Smith is 5th in the AHL in points (21 goals, 36 assists). That's good, but it's not as good as teammate and AHL rookie Cory Conacher who is 4th in the AHL in scoring (29 goals, 31 assists). Conacher is also tied for the league lead in goals scored. He remains unsigned by the Lightning... for the moment at least.

Anaheim is on a stretch where they play 10-of-13 games on the road, including eight road games in a row, That hasn't exactly phased them, though, as the Ducks have gone 4-0-2 during that road trip so far, with overtime losses to the Red Wings and Devils, while trumping the Blue Jackets, Wild, Penguins, and Florida Panthers.

And former Capitals head coach, now in charge of the Ducks, Bruce Boudreau would like nothing more than to add another point or two to the Ducks traveling collection of points with a victory at Times Palace tonight.

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