Less than a year ago, I wrote an article on Raw Charge entitled “The Case Against Frantz Jean.” In it I laid out how I had come to the conclusion that Jean was part of the problem for the Tampa Bay Lightning. It’s not a simple case, so it took me 3,000 words to make it.
I emphasized then–although it got lost in the furor–that it took me a long time to come to that conclusion. In fact, it took more than a year. The reason for that is that goaltending is just that random. Objective evaluation of goaltending performances requires data from literally thousands of shots, which can take a very long time to accumulate.
Right now Ben Bishop has faced a total of 2106 shots over five NHL seasons going back to 2008. About half of them (1184) have come with Tampa Bay. Out of those 2106 shots, Bishop has played at a .920-.922 for 1281 shots (about 400 with the Ottawa Senators and the rest with Tampa Bay). He’s never played above that level before, but he has a .935 right now. It looks very much like randomness at this point. We can talk again when he has not only finished the season at this level (I don’t think he will), but has also played like this for at least another half a season (again, I don’t think he will.)
Another part of my analysis was that certain goaltenders–certain players–would do well with Jean and that Ben Bishop appeard to be one of those kind of players: a guy whose instincts were conservative and positional. People forgot that I said that or they overlooked it, or they didn’t read the silly thing all the way through.
And finally–or at least finally for the moment–we have Anders Lindback, who has had a terrible year. If we’re giving Jean credit for Bishop, we have to give him blame for Lindback.
Personally, I think it’s a much more complicated thing than is comfortable for water-cooler talk or for twitter. It’s not just the coaching. But while a large part of the problem is player failure, coaching failure is in there, too, and we don’t have to choose between those two things.
We can be reasonable and rational and fair to all parties and say that even as Lindback has not gotten to where he needs to be, there’s no evidence that coaching is helping him make game-to-game adjustments or get his head out of his ass. We can do all of this while acknowledging coaching has at the very least not harmed Ben Bishop this season and may be helping him.
Yes, Lindback’s responsible for his own mistakes. But Frantz Jean, goalie coach, is responsible for failure to be the outside eye and calming influence he’s meant to be. He’s responsible for the failures he’s had, too.