Tampa Bay goaltender Ben Bishop was stretchered off the ice in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final and it looked as though his season could be over regardless of what the Lightning accomplished in the third round. But it turns out the news is much better than one would have expected.
Though Bishop, 29, was absent from the game day skate ahead of Game 2, which means he won’t be playing Monday evening, x-rays and an MRI have come back showing that he’s actually in much better shape than anyone could have guessed. In fact, he could even be back this series, as he’s been listed by the Lightning as day-to-day. This coming after the netminder revealed he thought the worst as soon as he fell to the ice in Game 1.
“I fell back and felt something I’ve never felt before, pain right away,” Bishop said. “Your mind starts racing, you start thinking the worst thing. I’m thinking my leg is broken then your mind just starts spinning. I was really scared…Definitely one of the scariest things that’s happened to me. It’s funny when something like that happens and your mind starts racing. Just thinking the worst. Luckily, it’s not that bad.”
Not that bad, of course, could be relatively speaking. Bishop explained that when he was taken off the ice, before he could settle his nerves, he was thinking the injury could be so bad that the bone would be sticking out of his leg.
Bishop said he has been back on the ice briefly since Friday’s injury, and when he approached the podium Sunday, he did so without any visible limp and didn’t need any assistance climbing the stairs onto the stage to speak with media. He did say, though, that walking around is different from actually taking the ice for a game. As is playoff tradition for any injured player, Bishop wouldn’t get into specifics of the exact ailment, but said it could be considered “lower leg.”
“(The injury) feels better than it did yesterday,” Bishop said. “It’s just a matter of getting to where it feels good enough to think that you can go out there and help the team win.”
Losing Bishop so early in the series could hurt the Lightning as he’s been a difference-maker for Tampa Bay so far. Through 11 appearances, Bishop has a 1.85 goals-against average and a sparkling .939 save percentage. Goaltending duties now fall to Andrei Vasilevskiy, though, and the 21-year-old will have to duel against another impressive 21-year-old netminder in Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray. Bishop said he believes Vasilevskiy to be equal to the task.
“Personally, I know that he can go in there and do the job,” Bishop said. “He’s a young guy, but he’s got a lot of experience. He got to play in the Stanley Cup final game last year, played really well, and he’s played well all season…I know the guys in the room and myself, we have full confidence in him. He’s got a bright future in this league.”