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Lightning's Bishop skates, status unsure for Game 5

by Arpon Basu / Chicago Blackhawks

TAMPA -- Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop took part in the morning skate Saturday ahead of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports) but said he did not know if he will play.

Bishop said after the skate that he would speak with Lightning coach Jon Cooper and a decision would likely be made on his status Saturday afternoon. Bishop said backup Andrei Vasilevskiy found out he was starting Game 4 in Chicago on Wednesday in the afternoon and it would probably be the same timing Saturday.

The best-of-7 series is tied 2-2. Game 6 is in Chicago on Monday.

"You have to do what's best for the team," Bishop said. "At this time of year it's all about the team and wins, it's not about personal accolades at all."

Cooper also did not give a clear answer on the goaltending situation because he hadn't discussed it with Bishop when he met with reporters following the skate.

"I hope I have a decision to make between him and Andrei," Cooper said. "That would be great."

Bishop is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury, but said Saturday he has made progress since sustaining the injury. It wasn't clear how much he had progressed since the decision was made for him not to play Wednesday.

Vasilevskiy, a 20-year-old rookie, made 17 saves in a 2-1 loss in Game 4.

Bishop was injured and missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs last year, when the Lightning were swept in the first round by the Montreal Canadiens. He said watching Game 4 was difficult, but Vasilevskiy's performance made it a bit easier to take.

"It was terrible. I was more nervous for that game and not playing than I've been for any game," Bishop said. "I thought [Vasilevskiy] did a great job, he did everything he needed to do. I thought he played a great game and we had a chance to win that game. It's a tough spot to put a kid in like that, but you see why he's going to be as good as he is."

Bishop's injury began to manifest itself in Game 2 of the series, when he left the game on two occasions and Vasilevskiy earned his first NHL playoff victory with five saves in relief. Bishop played in Game 3 and made 36 saves, including 18 in the first period, to help the Lightning win 3-2 in Chicago. Throughout that game it was clear Bishop was laboring, getting up off the ice slowly and rarely venturing out of his net to play the puck.

Bishop took the morning skate for Game 4 and was in the starter's net, as he was Saturday, but did not play. He said if the situation repeats itself Saturday, at least Vasilevskiy will have a better idea of what's coming.

"He's probably a little bit more prepared now," Bishop said. "He's a young kid but he's been through a lot. He's obviously played some big games, obviously none bigger than the last one. He comes in with a good resume. You see why he's as good as he is."

Author: Arpon Basu | Managing Editor

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