Just for fun, check out this preview of Islanders-Lightning:
- Tampa’s current goaltending situation has its roots in last year’s playoff loss to the Devils. As Tampa went down to New Jersey three games to one, Lightning coach John Tortorella decided not to use his top goalie Nikolai Khabibulin. Instead he played backup John Grahame, partially hoping to get a rise out of Khabibulin and partially just to mix things up. Grahame was amazing in his postseason debut, holding New Jersey to one goal for three overtimes before finally surrendering the game-winner at the 111th minute.
Tortorella almost got the win, but definitely got a pissed starting goalie. Grahame continued to push Khabibulin for the top spot during this season and while it seems Khabibulin will get the start against the Isles, you have to wonder if he’s gun-shy about the playoffs or about Tortorella.
I guess I shouldn’t have worried about Khabibulin. He was flawless, shutting out the Isles 3-0. But the series isn’t over yet. There’s still plenty of time for Khabibulin to implode. But I wouldn’t count on it.