First, that the Lightning were simply giving Roloson the same kind of breather that Roberto Luongo(notes) received in Game 6 against the Chicago Blackhawks — a chance to mentally prepare himself and rest up for a game that was going to be played win or lose, with the knowledge that the team's playoff fate rested on the starter and not the untested backup.
In fact, Cory Schneider(notes) and Mike Smith(notes) both had two relief appearances of similar length followed by the spot start. The Vancouver Canucks had an easy call after Game 6, because Schneider was injured and made a couple of goofs in the loss before Luongo returned. The Lightning had a much more difficult decision, because Smith did nothing to hand the gig back to Roloson outside of lose the game.
Assuming the gig was ever his — which we know it wasn't.
Smith earned a chance to give Roloson a breather. He didn't earn the chance to take over, try to win two games and continue to provide a composed presence between the pipes while Roloson's been pulled in two of the last three games. That may have been win or lose in Game 5, honestly. If you go by Boucher's word, Smith was the substitute teacher and Roloson's the tenured professor. It doesn't matter which guy is better suited to lead the class during this semester.
What's ironic is that by making a decision that begged for second-guessing in Game 5 — starting the playoff newbie backup instead of the veteran starter — Boucher has now completely set himself up for second-guessing in Game 6.
Has Roloson looked as sharp against the Bruins as he did in previous rounds? No. Has he been a liability in two of the last three starts? Yes. Is Smith a better puck-handler? We think so. We argued for Smith to start Game 6; Boucher clearly doesn't feel he's the best choice to lead the rally.
Plus, Roloson is 6-0 in elimination games and Mike Smith has never played in one. And Roloson is a primary reason the Lightning are two wins away from the Stanley Cup Finals, while Smith was a catalyst for clenched sphincters in the regular season.
The other theme from Boucher's post-Game 5 comments was that the goalie swap was one unattached to emotion for the coaches in their decision. But by standing by Roloson for Game 6, there's no question that the previous rounds (and months) means this chance is owed to him. Loyalty and gratitude are never a bad thing; but are they the right thing?