Ben Bishop was taken off the ice on a stretcher after landing awkwardly on his left leg in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, and now the injury update for the Tampa Bay Lightning goalie is pointing toward an uncertain future for the team.
Bishop suffered the injury with 7:35 left in the first period of his team’s 3-1 win, twisting his knee as he skated back toward the net and landing awkwardly in the crease. Bishop was on the ice for a long time in obvious pain, and needed athletic trainers from both teams as well as some of his teammates to help him onto a stretcher that took him off the ice.
After the game, Lightning coach Jon Cooper said Bishop’s X-rays came back negative with “nothing structurally wrong,” but the extent of injury is still not known. The fact that he could not bear any weight on the knee does not bode well, and could point to significant time out for Ben Bishop.
The team was able to rally around backup goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, blocking 20 Pittsburgh shots to keep the pressure off him and thwart the Penguins’ potent offense. The Lightning also got goals from Alex Killorn, Ondrej Palat, and Jonathan Drouin to take Game 1.
X-rays come back negative on Lightning goalie Ben Bishop's leg after leaving Game 1 of Eastern Conference finals. https://t.co/waridxD0Sd
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 14, 2016
The loss of Ben Bishop could be a major blow to the Lightning’s Stanley Cup hopes. Bishop has been the team’s rock throughout the first two rounds of the playoffs, with a .938 save percentage and two shutouts.
As CBS Sports noted, the injury to Ben Bishop is one of many for the Tampa Bay Lightning as their locker room has turned into an infirmary.
“Tampa Bay is a bit of an underdog in this series against Pittsburgh, but Bishop was seen as one of the equalizing factors. Now it appears he will join an injured list that also includes captain Steven Stamkos, who is out while dealing with blood clots, and No. 2 defenseman Anton Stralman, who appears to be nearing his return from a broken leg. Additionally, later in the first period of Game 1, Tyler Johnson left the game with an apparent leg injury. His status is not yet clear. Of all those absences, Bishop will be by far the biggest.”
Ben Bishop has been stung by injury before in the playoffs. He played last year’s Stanley Cup Finals with a torn groin, one that forced him to miss a game.
— HockeyNightInCanada (@hockeynight) May 14, 2016
But as they may be losing Bishop again this postseason, the Lightning could soon be getting a boost from the return of their captain, Steven Stamkos. The forward was close to making his playoff debut on Friday after a long recovery from a blood clot, but he ended up being scratched.
Stamkos said on Friday that he is ready to get back in the lineup to help his team.
“I feel great,” Stamkos said, via ESPN. “Like I’ve said before, I’m just giving myself a chance to be ready if that time comes. I feel like I’m up to game shape. That’s been the plan all along, and each day I skate, each day I handle the puck, shoot the puck, I feel better and better. I’m just giving myself a chance. If that time comes, I’ll be ready.”
With the injury to Ben Bishop, the Tampa Bay Lightning will now be forced to turn to Vasilevskiy, who posted a record of 11-10-0 record this season with a .910 save percentage and 2.76 goals-against average.
[Image via TSN screenshot]