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Roloson should be improvement in net for Tampa

by Corey Masisak
WASHINGTON -- Dwayne Roloson is going to settle into his new home in Florida eventually, but before that he'll be busy trying to keep his new team in first place Tuesday.

The Tampa Bay Lightning acquired Roloson on Saturday from the New York Islanders for defense prospect Ty Wishart, and coach Guy Boucher is going with him in net in their first game since the deal in a battle for the top spot in the Southeast Division against the Washington Capitals.

"I've been travelling so much," Roloson said. "I went from Detroit to Calgary and from Calgary to Houston to Tampa to Washington, so it has been a whirlwind tour so it hasn't sunk in too much. I don't think you have really have an idea of what's going on unless you're sitting in the GM's room. It is always tough to leave somewhere, but you also know that you're going to an organization that wanted you at the same time. It is a nice feeling."

Roloson had been one of the few bright spots for the Islanders this season, compiling a 2.64 goals against average and a .916 save percentage despite the team's struggles, which were reflected in his 6-13-1 record. He moves to a team loaded with talent at forward but one that needed some help preventing goals.

The Lightning enter Tuesday's games eighth in the NHL in scoring at 3.05 per game, but 26th in goals-against at 3.08 per contest. They also are in the top 10 on the power play and the penalty kill, so some better work in the net at even strength could be a big improvement.

Mike Smith and Dan Ellis rank 40th and 41st among the 42 goaltenders who have played enough to qualify for the League leaders in save percentage, while Roloson is 16th despite playing with an inferior team in front of him.

"I think it has added a new element. He's a world-class goalie and won a lot of games in a lot of years," Washington defenseman Tom Poti said. "I think he's going to help that team out a lot. They're playing really well anyway and are on a good streak so I think we have our work cut out for us."

Added Tampa Bay forward Ryan Malone: "I think it is good -- even for the other two goalies. Anytime you can be around a veteran of the League is good for everybody on the team for him to have that calming demeanor. You see his track record and we've played against him. Anytime you can add a quality goaltender like that it is a good thing."

Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau has known of Roloson's quality for a decade. Roloson helped the Worcester IceCats defeat Boudreau's Lowell Lock Monsters in the first round of the 2001 Calder Cup playoffs in the season before the veteran netminder became an established NHL player.

Roloson stopped 24 of 26 shots for the Islanders against the Capitals earlier this season and has a career goals-against average of 2.40 against Washington.

"Just playing the first game (with a new team) is always a lot of mixed emotions," Roloson said. "At the same time, for me, I just have to focus on the things I have to do and that is stop the puck. I had fun and I enjoyed being on Long Island. It was a great organization. It is always sad to leave, but at the same time I get a chance to play on a team that right now is in first place in its division and hopefully can make the playoffs and go far."

Added Boudreau: "They got a better goalie and they've got a guy who is (41) and been through the wars. I think he can calm down a younger team like that and we've seen him at every age. I've seen him at every age be incredible. When he was an unknown at Worcester he knocked us out of the playoffs by just being outstanding."

Eventually the Lightning will have a crowded situation in net. Ellis and Smith are still on the team, though Smith is currently out with a knee injury.

All three goaltenders were on the ice together for Tampa Bay's morning skate at Verizon Center, and Lightning coach Guy Boucher said he hasn't decided if Roloson or Ellis will play Wednesday in Pittsburgh (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-CA).

"I don't want to put any pressure on (Roloson)," Boucher said. "He just needs to come in and have a free mind with what he has to do. He's been doing it all year and he's been doing it for years. He's seen everything and there's a guy who has played for Team Canada, so I'm sure tonight he's going to be in the right state of mind and things are going to go well for him.

"We've talked with Ellis already, but (Smith) is not back in the net right now. There's no control over anything right now except for his recuperation and what he has to do so his injury is taken care of. Right now we don't have three goalies -- we have two. There's nothing different than usual. The day we have three is the day we'll have to address some things. ... We'll cross that bridge when we get there."
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