With most of the Tampa Bay Lightning still decompressing from their stint in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, one Bolt already has his sights set on September.
“I’m excited for next year,” Ben Bishop said. “As crazy as it sounds, I’m ready to go.”
Rising to the occasion this year when the team needed him most, Bishop soon became a standout starter while battling through a number of ailments.
“It’s pretty remarkable how he came through,” head coach Jon Cooper said. "It wasn’t just one thing with him, he had so many things break down on him, but he gamed though it all year.”
But it was an elbow injury late in the season that really left a “sour taste” in his mouth.
“When I hurt my elbow, Stamkos came in between periods and gave me a hug and I actually started crying,” Bishop said. “I knew we all worked all year to get here and I probably wasn’t going to be able to play in the first round.
“I really wanted to play in the playoffs. It was something I was really looking forward to. To get hurt when I did was really tough.”
The injury occurred on April 8 versus the Toronto Maple Leafs when Bishop dove for a puck less than six minutes into the game. There was speculation that Bishop was being over played during the last stretch of the season at the time of the injury, yet the 6-foot-7 netminder called what was later announced as a dislocated elbow “flukey.”
His elbow was then popped back into place when Bishop went back to the locker room and he worked hard to be back by Game 6 if Tampa Bay could hold out.
With the season over, Bishop will take take care of another injury to his right wrist, which had been in a cast the entire second half of the season.
“I tore a ligament right before the Olympic break,” he said. “I think I’m going to have surgery next week.”
While Bishop did not know the exact time he tore the ligament, he said his wrist was first aggravated on January 5 during warm-ups in Edmonton and again during a Lightning home game on February 6 versus the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The medical staff put on a cast for the next month after the incident in Edmonton, according to Bishop, and when he hurt it again, he put on a different cast after Olympic break.
“It needs to be fixed,” Bishop said. “It was a pain in the butt all year.”
Recovery time for a surgically repaired wrist will be 3-4 months and Bishop expects to be ready to go for training camp in September.
“It almost feels like my year was incomplete by not being able to play in the playoffs,” Bishop said. “So hopefully I’ll be 100 percent.”
And though the questions will always linger on the what-ifs of having Bishop available in the postseason, the Bolts were grateful to have him playing well for as long as he did.
“We can gripe about being swept in the first round,” Cooper said. “But without Bishop before, there may have not been a first round.”
OTHER NETMINDER NEWS
Prospect Andrey Vasilevskiy’s contract with Salavat Yulaev Ufa of the KHL is set to expire on April 30. Vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman hopes to have the first round draft pick (19th overall) of the 2012 Entry Draft signed and in North America by next season.
Vasilevskiy, who posted a 2.21 goals-against average and .923 save percentage in the regular season and a 1.99 goals-against average and .934 save percentage in the postseason, is also expected to compete with Russia in the World Championships in May.
Anders Lindback is a restricted free agent this summer. Yzerman said they will have to figure out what their cap hit is when considering Lindback’s future. He also said Lindback’s position is not affected by Vasilevskiy or Kristers Gudlevskis.
“I believe mostly with goaltenders than any other position you have to be patient with them,” Yzerman said. “I don’t necessarily want to throw them into the NHL if they’re not ready. I want them playing.”