The image of Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop writhing in pain on the ice and clutching at his left leg before being stretchered off the ice was one of the worst of the post-season.
The injury would knock Bishop out of the Eastern Conference final just 12:25 into the series’ opening contest, and the 29-year-old netminder remained on the sideline for the remainder of the round, despite the fact he seemed to toy with the possibility of returning to the lineup.
With the World Cup of Hockey approaching, though, Bishop says he’s ready to finally get back on the ice and get back to work in time for the new campaign.
"The leg is feeling better and it's getting stronger every day,” Bishop told ESPN’s Joe McDonald. “I'm getting ready to start skating soon...and get back on the ice and doing that side of things. We have about a month until we go, so I'll start off slow and pick it up in the next month and be ready for training camp for the World Cup.”
Even if Bishop is healthy in time for the World Cup, there’s no guarantee the Lightning netminder is going to be the starter by the time the tournament rolls around. With Jonathan Quick and Cory Schneider both in line to fight for the starting job at the tournament, Bishop could astonishingly end up as the third-stringer at the World Cup. That may not be the worst thing for him, though, considering how long he’s been on the shelf.
And regardless of Bishop’s situation at the World Cup, his season is sure to be one of the more interesting in terms of starting netminders this coming campaign. The Lightning signed Andrei Vasilevskiy to a three-year, $10.5-million contract extension in July, and there’s little doubt he’s the heir to the starting job in Tampa Bay. That leaves Bishop in the odd position of knowing this is almost certainly his final season with the Lightning.
Bishop had been mentioned in connection with the Calgary Flames before the they acquired Brian Elliott from the St. Louis Blues, and there’s still some who consider him a potential candidate to land with the Dallas Stars if their goaltending situation is shaky by the time the deadline rolls around. And if the Lightning can’t find a deal that works, it wouldn’t be shocking if GM Steve Yzerman were to hang on to Bishop as insurance for the post-season.
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