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Bishop, Johnson and Palat react to being NHL Award finalists

by Missy Zielinski / Tampa Bay Lightning

It has been less than a week since the season officially ended, but the Tampa Bay Lightning continue to make headlines, as a trio of players found were named finalists for the NHL Awards last week.

Ben Bishop was named a Vezina Trophy finalist Friday morning along with the Boston Bruins' Tuukka Rask and the Colorado Avalanche’s Semyon Varlamov. The trophy is awarded to the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at his position and was voted on by the general managers of the 30 National Hockey League clubs.

Bishop was nearly speechless after he learned of the acknowledgement and unable to wipe the smile off his face.

“It’s a great honor,” he said. "It’s exciting...yeah just really exciting.”

While Bishop set multiple franchise records, including becoming the Lightning’s all-time leader for wins in a season with 37. Bishop also set the franchise mark in save percentage (.924).

“I owe a lot of credit to the guys in front of me,” he said. “The defense, the forwards, all the blocked shots, so yeah, a lot of credit goes to them.”

He is also the first Lightning finalist for the Vezina Trophy in nearly two decades. Daren Puppa placed third in 1996.

“Anytime you can get in that category, just up for that award, it’s rewarding,” Bishop said. “You put in a lot of hard work in the summers and during the year, so anytime you get nominated it’s exciting.”

Forwards Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat will also be accompanying the Bolts netminder to the awards show. The two were named Calder Trophy finalists along with Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon. The Calder Trophy is awarded to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition.

“It was a good feeling,” Palat said. “I just have to thank my teammates and my team; I couldn’t have done it without them.”

Johnson and Palat's nod make Tampa Bay the first club to have multiple Calder finalists since the Chicago Blackhawks Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews finished first and third, respectively, in 2008.

“It’s an honor,” Johnson said. “It was a great year and it never would have happened if we didn’t have such a great team.”

Yet Johnson remained modest when he was told he and Palat had done something that has not been done since the Kane and Toews duo, though he did say he would not want it any other way.

“It makes it that much more special,” Johnson said. “Palat and I are very close. We’ve been on the same line, played together for the last three years and to be able to share that with him is pretty cool."

And Palat couldn’t agree more.

“I’ve been playing with him for three years now,” Palat said. “He’s my friend and it’s awesome that we get to play together.”

The group will travel together to Las Vegas for the awards, which take place on Tuesday, June 24 at Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas.

“I’ve been there for Bachelor parties, but this will be a little different,” Bishop laughed as he was told he will have to be a tour guide for the Lightning rookies.

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