Originally posted on Red Light District Hockey  |  Last updated 10/30/11

UNIONDALE, NY - JANUARY 26: Dwayne Roloson #30 of the New York Islanders skates against the Washington Capitals on January 26, 2010 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Just like last season, the Tampa Bay Lightning have a healthy offense. While Marc-Andre Bergeron may lead the team in scoring, forwards Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis are scoring at nearly a point-per-game rate while the rest of the supporting cast is chipping in adequately. Their 33 markers on the season is only behind the Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers which puts their output in the elite ranks under the fiery Guy Boucher.

However, just like last season, their struggles remain between the pipes where Mathieu Garon and Dwayne Roloson have allowed 33 goals through the first 11 games.
In Saturday's game, Roloson blanked the Winnipeg Jets, stopping all 28 shots faced and improving his career record against the organization to 10-0-1-1 over 14 appearances. Nevertheless, does defeating the last-place team in their Division with a shutout mean all of their problems have disappeared? Furthermore, does it mean Roloson has actually brought his game back up to an elite level?
“Just little things, trying to work on little things.” said Roloson. “I'm moving normal now, not a lot of hitches like I had earlier. I'm a lot more fluid.”
Extended practice sessions may have helped the 42-year-old get back into game mode. Perhaps watching his counterpart Garon start four consecutive games and five of six finally fired him up. Maybe allowing four-or-more goals in three of his five starts snapped him into shape. Whatever caused his improvement doesn't necessarily matter, his and the team's goal remains winning.
“It's all about the team and winning, that's the bottom line," Roloson said. "It doesn't matter who you are and how many years you played in the league or if you're a superstar, it's all about the team. It's about getting back in there, you cant put all that pressure on yourself of getting back in. You just have to go out and play your game.”
The Simcoe, Ontario, native remains humble and a team-oriented player. He understands that at his age he doesn't need to carry the team, but he does need to play well enough to get the victory. In order to do just that, he may need to sit in favor of Garon – something he has already done six times through 11 games, and handled well.
“I've always like Mathieu's game. Playing with him in Edmonton, he was a great player; he does all the right things.”
It sounds like the two have a mutual respect for each other, which should help them gut through their early-season struggles.
Last season's opening night goalies – Mike Smith and Dan Ellis – similarly played together with the Utah Grizzlies and Iowa Stars, but failed to give coach Boucher the level of goaltending he needed to win, forcing GM Steve Yzerman to trade for Roloson.
In the interim, Boucher tried a combination of both goalies in addition to minor-league netminder Cedric Desjardins. Their current internal options of Jaroslav Janus and Dustin Tokarski both have allowed over three goals per game at the AHL level, which probably eliminates them as options.
With last night's shutout, Roli improved his peripheral number to a 3.63 GAA and .891 SV% – nearly a goal higher than his career average of 2.67 and a .20 decrease from his .910 career save percentage. The grizzled veteran managed four shutouts through 34 starts with the Bolts last season – a total he may need to replicate in order to bring his stats back down to respectability.
Either that, or Yzerman once again may need to explore the goalie market.

Photo credit: Getty Images

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