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Anders Lindback goes from Nashville goalie factory to under microscope in Tampa

Sean Leahy
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UNIONDALE, NY -- When Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman dealt for goaltender Anders Lindback in June, he said his preference was to fill their crease void with someone younger and not heavily experienced.

Picking up a goalie from the Nashville Predators system is always a wise recommendation, and it's a move Yzerman is banking on for the future.

During Monday's 4-3 matinee loss to the New York Islanders, Lindback made 40 saves, a keeping his team in the game early. The Islanders scored three times in the second period, a deficit that Lightning coach Guy Boucher said was the result of the impatience of his players and trying to open up the game.

"You want to rely on your goaltender, but you don't want to rely that much like we did today," said Boucher. "Last game [6-3 win over Washington] we played terrific defense and today that wasn't the case. We did good in the first; we did pretty good in the third; but in the second period we opened it up and it cost us. We can't leave him alone like that. It's great that he makes those saves, but at the same time he should never be left that many times alone. Too many breakaways and 2-on-1s."

More often than not, Lindback making those types of saves will result in Tampa earning two points instead of zero. The Lightning was limited to 15 shots through the first two periods, something that won't happen regularly to a top-10 offense. And Lindback will soon settle into his position as Tampa's No. 1 netminder, even after a short training camp.

"Communication works fine," said Lindback. "It will get better. It's a process. It's nothing that will happen over a two-week period. It's going to take some time. I feel pretty comfortable in there."

Playing with Ilves Tampere of the SM-liiga in Finland, Lindback suited up for 13 games which kept him in shape as his NHL resume hits 40 games and counting.

The 6-foot-6 Swede owes a lot of his development to the goalie factory in Nashville headed by coach Mitch Korn. Aside from consistent performances year in and year out, the Predators also have had a knack for getting strong seasons from their netminders. From Tomas Vokoun to Chris Mason to Dan Ellis to Rinne, there is no lack of confidence in whoever owns their crease.

Lindback learned at the feet of Korn and Rinne and now he's been given the chance to take the Tampa No. 1 job and run with it. He signed a 2-year, $3.6 million deal in July, a short-term fix for Yzerman that could pay off into a long-term solution for the Lightning -- a similar path Rinne took that eventually landed him a 7-year deal with the Predators.

"I saw [Rinne] playing and looked what worked for him and tried it out myself," said Lindback "You figure out some things work for you. The way he competes every day was a big thing for me to learn, too. Both in practice and in games he always tries to stop that puck no matter what it takes.

"That was huge for me coming over. I was fortunate to be there."

Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy

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