The Tampa Bay Lightning needed a savior after their starting goalie Dwayne Roloson opened the season playing like, well, a 42 year old goalie, and they found one in their backup goalie Mathieu Garon. Garon has served as the Bolts' de facto starting goalie, playing in 48 games this season and posting a respectable .901 save percentage. He's no Tim Thomas, but he's given the Lightning a steady performance from the net and allowed them to stay in the playoff hunt late.
During last night's game against the Ottawa Senators, Garon was forced to leave the game only five minutes into the first period, after injuring himself stretching on a glove-side save. As it turns out, that injury will keep Garon sidelined for the next few weeks:
Lightning GM Yzerman says G Garon has torn groin muscle. Out 3-4 weeks. With Turco out of picture, Dustin Tokarski to the rescue.— Damian Cristodero (@LightningTimes) March 7, 2012
For everyone clamoring for Dustin Tokarski to get a shot, here it is. Yzerman, though, said he also will scour Europe for free agent option— Damian Cristodero (@LightningTimes) March 7, 2012
Dustin Tokarski is the Bolts' #4 prospect according to Bolt Prospects, and their top goaltending prospect. Considered by many to be the Lightnings' "Goalie of the Future", he's been the starting goalie for the AHL affiliates, the Norfolk Admirals, all season long. Although he's a mere 22 years old, he has posted a .907 save percentage through 40 games this season.
The Lightning would ideally like to give Tokarski more time to season down in the AHL, and it appears as though Steve Yzerman is searching hard for a free agent goalie he can sign as a short-term fill-in. The Lightning likely aren't making the playoffs this season, so while it's tempting to let Tokarski get a shot in the NHL, there's no sense harming his development by pushing him into the NHL before he's ready.
For more on this news, check out SB Nation's blog on the Bolts, Raw Charge.