Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher has a big decision to make sometime in the next two days.
Boucher has pulled starting goaltender Dwayne Roloson twice in the past three games, and Mike Smith has excelled in relief both times. Smith stopped all 21 shots he faced in Game 4 on Saturday afternoon, helping the Lightning erase a three-goal lead for the Boston Bruins in a 5-3 victory to even the series.
After the game, Boucher was coy when pressed about who would be in goal Monday night in Boston.
"We have our No. 1 goaltender. He's taken us to this place right now and that's the reason why we're here," Boucher said. [Smith] has been terrific. He's had a [save percentage] of over .940 since Dec. 15. And the fact that [Roloson] came in certainly helped him with pressure and poise and all that. And whenever he was asked to play since Roloson has been there, he's been terrific. I mean, he's just been terrific.
"So whenever it's time for him to help the team and try to change the momentum around, I don't hesitate. It was the same in Boston. We put him in. He didn't get scored against in the third period. We were trying to come back. He played well again. So I don't remember the last bad game he's played. So obviously, when there's an opportunity to help the team and try and turn things around, we're not afraid to use him. He did a good job today."
Obviously Boucher didn't answer the question of who he would start in Game 5, so he was asked to clarify.
"We just finished this game now," Boucher said. "We're happy we just beat a terrific team and we're just happy that we were a lot harder to play against today. And [Smith] was part of it and Roloson is -- it doesn't change the status."
So Boucher called Roloson his No. 1 goaltender, but didn't officially say he will start Monday night at TD Garden. Smith is 29-for-29 in his two relief appearances, but Roloson was the best goaltender (statistically) in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs before the past three games.
He also played pretty well in Game 3, between the two benchings.
"That's up to the coaching staff," Roloson said when asked if he'd be the starter for Game 5. "It's their decision and whatever happens, happens. It's all about the team winning and having success."
Smith sounded like someone who expects to be wearing a baseball cap instead of a mask on Monday night at the TD Garden.
"I don't expect to [play] -- I'll be ready to. [Roloson] has carried us through the playoffs this far and I don't expect anything less than for him to come back and have a great game. I'll be ready to go, but I'm sure [Roloson] will want to get back in there and be ready to go as well."