Monday, 8 June 2015

Down But Not Out

Ben Bishop clearly was struggling tonight. There was definitely times where he labored going side-to-side in the crease, and it appeared he struggled to return to his feet at times. The benefits of being 6'7" is that he doesn't necessarily have to be on his feet at all times, but the side-to-side movement in the crease against a well-oiled machine such as the Blackhawks is a quality one certainly wants as a goaltender. Whatever is ailing Bishop won't be disclosed, but the Lightning netminder didn't seem to care after he backstopped the Lightning to a 3-2 win in Game Three and a 2-1 series lead.

Bishop wasn't made available to the press after Game Two after leaving the ice twice and Jon Cooper refused to answer questions regarding the goalie's status for Game Three, but Bishop led the Lightning onto the ice for Game Three to the surprise of many after back-up Andrei Vasilevskiy held the Blackhawks at bay for nearly ten minutes in Game Two. There were times where the butterfly motion led him to lean over and support himself with his glove hand, possibly indicating a knee or leg injury. Whatever it is, the Lightning aren't saying.

"One of them is playing. It's Vasi or Bish," head coach Jon Cooper told reporters earlier in the day. "We have two capable goalies that we have 100 per cent confidence in."

Cooper, for his part, also maintained that he never considered pulling the veteran netminder despite his visible struggles. With the Lightning now two wins away from hockey's greatest prize, pain may be temporary in Bishop's eyes. While the injury could be worse than he's letting on, he did appear to get increasingly comfortable in the Lightning net as the night wore on, and his stopping 36 of 38 shots he faced seemed to indicate that he's willing to play through the pain for the greater good.

Is that the right call?

A 2-1 series lead, a road win in Chicago, and being two wins away from the Stanley Cup say it is for now. And that's all that matters.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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