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Lindback Looking to Build on Late-Season Success

by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes

GLENDALE – Goaltender Anders Lindback revived his NHL career at the end of last season in one of the least likely places.

Playing for the Buffalo Sabres, who finished last in the NHL with 54 points, Lindback, 27, raised eyebrows by posting a .924 save percentage and a 2.76 goals-against average in 16 games.

Anders Lindback. Photo by Getty Images.

"I’m trying to find some consistency," said Lindback, who signed a one-year contract with the Coyotes on July 1 to serve as Mike Smith's backup. "I got the chance at the end of last year to show myself and everybody else what I can do and how I can play."

Arizona is Lindback’s fifth NHL team in five years. In 111 games, he has posted a 40-51-7 record, a .905 save percentage and a 2.83 goals-against average.

"I'm not that old and I've been with a lot of teams," Lindback said. "It's given me a lot of valuable experience."

Lindback, a native of Gavle, Sweden, began his NHL career in 2010-11 as Pekka Rinne's backup with the Nashville Predators, the team that selected him 207th overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. He played 38 games for the Predators over two seasons before moving on to Tampa Bay and Dallas. On Feb. 11, 2015, the Stars traded him to Buffalo.

Lindback's time as Rinne's backup early in his career served him well.

"I believe he can be a great goalie in this league," Rinne told the Buffalo News late last season. "…I've always felt 'Lindy' is a true professional that works hard. That's how it starts and that's how you keep it going."

Not much was expected of Lindback when he arrived in Buffalo form Dallas. At that point in the season, the Sabres were well beyond playoff contention with eyes on the NHL Draft Lottery.

Anders Lindback. Photo by Getty Images.

But Lindback, playing on a regular basis, thrived.

"I found my groove," Lindback said. "It's hard not to try too much when you play only once every second week. So when I knew I was going to play more I relaxed a little bit more. I felt that stint (with Buffalo) was great for me as a person and a goalie."

In one game late last season, Lindback turned aside 44 of 45 shots and denied all five shooters in a shootout to beat the Boston Bruins. In another, Lindback stopped 49 of 52 shots in a loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Lindback likely will be asked to start between 15 and 20 games for the Coyotes in 2015-16.

"We've actually liked Anders the last few seasons," General Manager Don Maloney said. “We were close to signing him even last year... He's a big guy like Mike so hopefully he can give us what we need. I do think Anders is just now starting to realize what he needs to do to play in the NHL. We've had pretty good luck signing some guys as backups. Hopefully we'll hit another out of the park."

Lindback is excited to get to know Smith and form a tandem with him.

"Mike Smith is a great goalie and I think I can learn a lot from him," Lindback said. "And I've heard he's a really good person, too."

Anders Lindback. Photo by Getty Images.

He added, "I’m really excited. I've spoken to people who've played for the Coyotes and I have high thoughts of the organization. I'm very excited to sign with them."

One new teammate Lindback already knows is defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson; he said they played together in a few tournaments in Sweden when they were younger.

"OEL has turned out to be a true No. 1 defenseman," Lindback said. "I'm looking forward to playing with him in the NHL. He’s a great guy and good leader."

Lindback plans to remain in Sweden until about two weeks before training camp begins in September. There he will prepare for his new job in the mornings – and then likely go pike fishing each day in the afternoon.

"I want to be more consistent," Lindback said of his goal for next season. "Hopefully Arizona will be a good fit for that. I'm excited for that opportunity."

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