TAMPA — Maybe it’s because he didn’t like what he saw in Game 5. Or maybe it’s because he thinks Mike Smith is best coming off the bench. Or, maybe Guy Boucher wants the grizzled veteran in net for a do-or-die game with the team’s season on the line.
Whatever the real reason, Boucher announced Tuesday that he is going back to Dwayne Roloson as his starting goalie for the team’s do-or-die Game 6 against the Bruins Wednesday night at St. Pete Times Forum.
Boucher thought – with the series tied – it was time to give Roloson a blow and let him have the night off.
“He was the guy that took us here, and that’s how I felt before last game,” Boucher said Tuesday. “But like I said, I felt like it was time to give him a little breather. And at the same time I felt that Smitty played really well. So it’s a perfect situation to put Smitty in. If something were to go wrong in the previous game, put a new goaltender in for a do-or-die, I don’t think it would have been a good moment for anybody.
So this is a perfect situation. He’s going to be the only rested guy on the two teams.”
Boucher is convinced that Roloson – at the age of 41 – will come back refreshed on Wednesday night.
“He’s had tremendous stretches with us,’ Boucher said. “And I remember there was one time where it wasn’t going so well. We gave him two days off and he came back and he was outstanding after.
So he’s like everybody else. He puts — he’s one of the hardest working guys on our team. He puts in a lot of hours and a lot of time. And he’s like everybody else, at some point or another just needs to breathe a little bit.
“He needed a little break like everybody else. Whether you’re a goaltender, defenseman or forward, I know players on both sides are getting more tired as the series are evolving. And it’s normal. Everybody’s expecting that. And your most important player is your goaltender. So he’ll be rested.”
After relieving Roloson in goal in Games 2 and 4, Mike Smith made his first career playoff start and stopped 17 of 19 shots before Rich Peverley ‘s empty-net goal with 12.1 seconds left sealed Monday’s Game 5 win for the Bruins.
Roloson entered the Eastern Conference finals against Boston with a playoff-leading 2.01 goals against average. That has skyrocketed to 2.52 as the Bruins beat him six times in Game 2 to tie the series and then chased him in Game 4 last Saturday. In Game 4, Roloson stopped just six of nine shots before being pulled with two minutes left in the first period when Patrice Bergeron  scored shorthanded.
Smith entered the game and stopped all 21 shots he faced, allowing the Lightning to rally to a 5-3 win and even the series before Monday night’s 3-1 Bruins win.