It is no secret that goaltending determines how far any NHL team can go in the playoffs.
The San Jose Sharks consistently were eliminated early in the playoffs despite being one of the best regular season teams. Mainly due to the poor play of goaltender Evgeni Nabokov who had a career record of 40-39 in the playoffs.
For the Tampa Bay Lightning-Pittsburgh Penguins series the goaltending match-up is an intriguing one.
At first glance, it looks like a mismatch that favors the Penguins.
Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has had an incredible year. Fleury was 36-20-5 despite his team being devastated with injuries, which included playing without two of the best players in the NHL in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Fleury also has the past experience of winning a Stanley Cup championship during the 2008-2009 season.
However, respect and credit needs to be shown for Lightning's goalie Dwayne Roloson.
After a poor start to the season with the New York Islanders, Roloson has been solid since coming to Tampa mid-season. He posted a 18-12-4 record with four shutouts for Tampa.
The Penguins not only need to respect what he has done this season, but his playoff pedigree is a good one as well.
Roloson took the Minnesota Wild to the second round of the playoffs in the 2002-2003 season.
Then during the 2005-2006 season he took the Edmonton Oilers (as a No. 8 seed) to the Stanley Cup Finals. Unfortunately for Roloson, he was injured in Game One of the series and did not play the rest of the way. The way he was playing that year, he probably would have won the Cup for Edmonton had he stayed healthy.
While the focus in preparing for the Lightning usually goes to Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis, and Vinny Lecavalier. Respect needs to be shown for Roloson as well.
The Lightning-Penguins series is a great match-up of contrasting styles of play. The Lightning would rather play a more wide-open game, while the Penguins rather play a more physical and grind-it-out game.
However, one thing both teams have in common is two playoff proven goalies who are going to be fun to watch.
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