When the Tampa Bay Lightning win, fans show up. Tampa Bay's attendance is up more than 10% from midseason last year and the explanation needs to go no farther than the team's on-ice success. The Lightning rank fifth in the NHL in percentage of games in which they manage at least one point in the standings, gaining points in 65.4 percent of games played. The Lightning offense has been so good, in fact, that goalies Dan Ellis and Mike Smith have combined for a 21-11-5 record while saving less than 89% of shots on goal.
Until last week, Tampa Bay had allowed more goals against than its brilliant offensewhich includes the league's second leading scorer Steven Stamkoshad scored. While the numbers were influenced by same huge losses, the writing was on the wall: Tampa Bay couldn't compete for a Stanley Cup with Smith and Ellis in goal.
General Manager Steve Yzerman elected to trade for Islanders' goalie Dwayne Roloson, who in 20 games had a save percentage of .916 and allowed nearly half a goal less per game than Tampa's combo. Considering the Lightning allow the least shots per game in the league (27.5), the addition of Roloson will kick them up from the playoff hopeful category to a lock for the postseason, simply by fixing a massive deficiency. The move, however, does not ensure the Lightning will compete for the Stanley Cup.
At first glance, Roloson's save percentage would insist he'll save a significant amount of goals, but over his 15-year career, the new Lightning goalie has been all over the spectrum. In 2001-02, he had a GVT of 0.6, playing in 45 games and managing a mediocre .901 save percentage. In the two following seasons, he had a superhuman save percentages hovering around .930 and GVT's of 25.1 and 29.3. As if that wasn't inconsistent enough for him, Roloson's next five seasons came in at 9.5 GVT, 13.3 GVT, -1.6 GVT, 18.3 GVT and this year's -3.2 GVT.