One of the bigger surprises in these playoffs thus far as been the play of Tampa Bay goaltender Dwayne Roloson. Most people expected that Roloson would have a decent postseason, but there aren’t many who would have predicted that he would be a leading Conn Smythe in both of the first two rounds.
Well, game two of the Tampa Bay/Boston series showed that everyone can have a bad day, no matter how hot they’ve been recently. Roloson was pulled on Tuesday in Boston after allowing six goals on 27 shots.
Now, the loss and the six goals were necessarily Roloson’s fault, of course. Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher blamed the team’s defensive effort for the loss, not Roloson:
Defence is what we needed to focus on last game. In both games, we scored five goals. But there was one of them we didn’t win. Obviously it’s because we didn’t play as well defensively. We gave away rushes. I think our focus has to be defense first like it always is when we have success. We know that if we have success defensively, we’ve given ourselves a much better chance. They’re a very good team on the other side. They can score some goals. If you give them breakaways and 2-on-1′s and 3-on-2′s, it’s certainly going to help them get momentum
The Tampa Bay Lightning and their 1-3-1 was very successful in holding the Penguins and the Capitals off of the scoresheet for large periods of time. Their defensive effort is the reason they have been successful thus far. Yes, Roloson definitely did his part, but the Lightning’s commitment to team defense is the reason they are playing in the Eastern Conference Final right now.
For Tampa Bay, the system is certainly greater than the sum of its parts. However, it helps to have a veteran goaltender in net who knows how to bounce back from a loss:
“It was out of my control, it still is out of my control, how it happened and what happened,” said Roloson. “For me, to dwell on it and focus on it is just wasting my energy. For me, our team didn’t win and it’s unfortunate, but at the same time you’ve got to forget about it and move on.”
Roloson’s calm personality and ability to let things go will certainly come in handy tonight. The Lightning will have to find a way to clamp down defensively again after playing in a game where 11 goals were scored. Roloson will play a big part in keeping his team focused on their game plan.
Boucher praised Roloson’s ability to leave the past behind him. He stated that for Roloson “it’s a 12-hour thing. Beyond 12 hours, you can’t even talk to him about it, because it doesn’t exist. That’s a great mental tool that takes a long time and a mature man to do that.”
Roloson certainly isn’t the only reason for the Lightning’s success this year. The team has played a strong system for the first two rounds and many different players are responsible for the Lightning being where they are right now. However, tonight Roloson could make a huge difference for this team, and not just because of his contributions on the ice.
If Roloson’s state of mine, his experience and his focus rub off on his team, the Lightning will be successful. Tampa Bay will have to forget about the last game and focus on the the task at hand. This team has not yet panicked during these playoffs. When they were down 3-1 against Pittsburgh they focused their attack and moved forward. When they faced the regular season Eastern Conference champions in round two, they stuck with their commitment to defense and swept their way to the conference final.
Tonight they’ll need to do the same thing and Roloson’s frame of mind will certainly help them accomplish that goal.