To begin the season Ben Bishop was a standout for the Tampa Bay Lightning. That included allowing more than two goals just five times over a 34-game span and vying for the league lead for wins.
While the former is still true the latter has been a bit of a different story for the Lightning netminder, in what seems to be a case of bad luck recently.
“Earlier in the year some of the bounces were going the other way,” head coach Jon Cooper said. “Now we’re getting some unbelievably unlucky breaks.”
Since Bishop’s hot start there have been nine occasions in his past 16 starts where he has allowed three or more goals per game.
“It’s one of those times of the year where you’re not getting any breaks,” he said. “I’m just getting some fluky goals on me.”
That included two of the sort Monday, as back-to-back Phoenix goals were scored in atypical style.
“The third goal last night hit off his pants and in,” Cooper said. “It could have hit off his pants and gone the other way, but instead it went backwards. Then there was that pass from a Coyotes player that caromed oddly off the boards and went in front of the net.
“You can’t sit here and fault Ben on those.”
For the ones that Bishop felt he should have stopped however, he has taken ownership, even admitting to the media after Saturday’s game that a puck he lost sight of was his fault and the reason the Bolts lost the game versus the Boston Bruins.
“He’s accepted full responsibility at times,” Cooper said. “But he has also bailed his team out a bunch.”
Cooper that overall team defense needs to get better, as the Lightning have been scoring more goals, but they’ve been giving up just as many as a unit.
With 17 games left Bishop and the rest of the Bolts have not hit the panic button just yet. The Lightning feel they have dictated play in their last pair of games and the fact they have fought hard for at least one point in each of their past two shows they are headed in the right direction.
“When it rains it usually pours,” Bishop said. “Now it seems to be pouring a little bit, but I’m not worried. We’ve played well the last few games, so we just need to stay with it and the tide will change, I know it.”
Tampa Bay has an extra day of rest in between their next matchup against the Florida Panthers. As ironic as it is, it took Steven Stamkos four games into the season to score not only his first, but a trio of goals against their intrastate rival, the Florida Panthers. Thursday will be Stamkos’ fourth game since his return and his opponent will once again be the Panthers.
OTHER ODDS ‘N ENDS
Sami Salo, who left the game midway through the first period after blocking a shot, was diagnosed with a lower body injury and is considered day-to-day. He, as well as Radko Gudas (lower body), are both questionable for Thursday.
Steven Stamkos did not practice Tuesday, but everything besides games remains optional for the Lightning captain for the rest of the season, as he returned from a broken right tibia less than a week ago.
Mark Barberio, B.J. Crombeen, Radko Gudas and Ondrej Palat, along with members of the Lightning staff, will be shaving their heads on Wednesday after practice for “Cut For A Cure,” which raises money and awareness for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation. Barberio’s long hair has been growing for two years and will also be donated to Locks of Love, a charity that creates wigs for children who suffer from any type of medical hair loss.