Ben Bishop did not think his injury was a minor one. According to his statements during a press conference, he thought his leg was broken. When he went down with a leg injury in Game 1 of the NHL Eastern Conference Finals, Bishop felt something he did not recognize. His mind raced and he feared the worst. The injury seemed so severe that Ben was taken off the ice on a stretcher, with backup Andrei Vasilevskiy finishing the game in net for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The injury to Bishop’s leg does not appear to be as serious as it first appeared. X-rays on Ben’s leg were negative and the MRI seemed to be “OK,” according to Bishop. As Chris Peters reported for CBS Sports, the Tampa Bay Lightning haven’t even ruled him out for Game 2 on Monday night.
The fact that Tampa Bay has not ruled Bishop out for the remainder Eastern Conference Finals, let alone Game 2 of the series, is quite a far cry from what fears may have dictated when Bishop first was injured. In a press conference recently posted by the Tampa Bay Lightning on Twitter, Ben explained just how frightened he was at first.
“It was a scary experience….I felt something I’ve never felt before, just pain right away. Your mind starts racing and you start thinking the worst thing right away.”
— #GoBolts (@TBLightning) May 15, 2016
The nature of Bishop’s injury was not fully revealed, as is common in the NHL today. It was mentioned in the press conference that the location of Bishop’s injury was “lower-leg.”
While Ben did note that the injury is “not too painful” right now, he is fully aware that walking on the leg is much different than skating or playing in a game. It was a good sign for the Tampa Bay Lightning and their fans that Bishop was shown walking up the stairs and onto the podium for his recent press conference.
Lightning goalie Ben Bishop, who exited Friday night’s game on a stretcher, is day-to-day with a lower body injury. pic.twitter.com/PMXSUFHjfz
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 14, 2016
If however, Bishop is unable to play in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday night, he will be sorely missed. Defenseman Victor Hedman recently made this clear in a statement reported by Scott Burnside at ESPN.
“Everyone knows he’s probably the best puck-moving goalie out there. One of the best puck-stoppers, as well. He had a Vezina type of season. I think there’s not a team in the world that would miss a player like that.”
For goalies with 20 or more starts in the regular season, Bishop was first in the NHL with a 2.06 goals-against-average. Ben was second overall in the NHL with a.926 save percentage, behind only Brian Elliott of the St. Louis Blues.
The Lightning will not be able to mask the lack of Bishop’s presence in net. In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals though, backup netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy was able to support Tampa Bay as they earned a 3-1 victory over Pittsburgh. In that contest, with Bishop injured, Vasilevskiy blocked 25 of 26 shots. The one goal which got past him happened on the power play for the Penguins.
Victor Hedman was certainly happy with how Vasilevskiy performed in Bishop’s absence, as quoted by Scott Burnside of ESPN.
“When bad things like that happen, we know we have [Vasilevskiy] backing him up. You can’t say enough about how he played. He was calm back there. He made some great saves for us.”
Although Bishop has not been ruled out for Game 2, taking into account his injury, Vasilevskiy may very well need to get back in net for Tampa Bay, this time going wire-to-wire. If that’s the case, the Lightning will make due without their starting goaltender, and hope that they get the same performance in net from Vasilevskiy which they saw in Game 1.
[Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images]