TAMPA, Fla. – Senators coach Paul MacLean jokingly referred to Lightning goalie Ben Bishop as “Too Tall” but the fact is the 6-foot-7 goalie has been too good against his former team. Bishop, who played with Ottawa from 2011-13, is 4-0-1 in six career starts against the Senators.
“We knew what type of talent he had,” said MacLean. “The main thing he needed was an opportunity to showcase he skills and he’s gotten that here. He was a good goalie when we got him and the other thing for us is the value he had when we traded him isn’t as high as the value he has now. But he was good for us and he was good for St. Louis.”
Bishop was a Vezina Trophy finalist last season finishing with a 37-14-7 record before a dislocated elbow ended his season on April 8.
“When we were a new coaching staff with some new players and everyone was trying to find themselves the one constant was Bishop,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “From day one to the Olympic break we won many games because of him and that’s what kind of pushed us over the top. To have that guy back there 60-65 times a year is huge.”
The Senators challenge Saturday will be to find ways to get the puck around his big body and put together more offensive opportunities than the 20 shots on goal they had against Nashville on Thursday.
“I thought we had good initial shots,” forward Bobby Ryan said. “But we couldn’t generate those second and third shot opportunities. We’re going to have to put more bodies in front of the net and generate more traffic.”
Senators center Zack Smith didn’t want to underestimate the importance of this game.
“It’s a big game in the division and we need to rebound quickly,” Smith said. “We’re facing a big goalie [Saturday] so we’re going to need to get pucks to the net and try to capitalize on the rebounds. Generally guys that size don’t move around well in the net but he moves pretty well.”
The Lightning would like to get off to a fast start with four home games to open the season.
“We want to take advantage of these games and get as many points as we can,” captain Ryan Callahan said. “It wasn’t pretty Thursday but two points is two points and we've got a chance to get an early lead in the division.”
Ondrej Palat - Steven Stamkos - Ryan Callahan
Alex Killorn – Valtteri Filppula- Tyler Johnson
Brendan Morrow - Brian Boyle - Brett Connolly
Nikita Kucherov- Vladislav Namestnikov - J.T. Brown
Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman
Matthew Carle - Andrej Sustr
Jason Garrison - Radko Gudas
Scratches: Eric Brewer, Mark Barberio
Injured: Jonathan Drouin (hand) Mattias Ohlund (knee)
Clarke MacArthur – Kyle Turris – Bobby Ryan
Milan Michalek – Mika Zibanejad – Alex Chiasson
Zack Smith – David Legwand – Mark Stone
Mike Hoffman – Curtis Lazar – Chris Neil
Jared Cowen – Erik Karlsson
Chris Phillips – Cody Ceci
Mark Borowiecki – Eric Gryba
Scratched: LW Colin Greening, RW Erik Condra, D Patrick Wiercioch
Injured: Marc Methot (back)
Status Report: Both teams are using the same 18 skaters from their openers. …Goalie Robin Lehner will make his debut in goal tonight for the Senators. …Lightning coach Jon Cooper said he will know more about the status of injured forward Jonathan Drouin early next week. …Cooper says he has a lot of familiarity with the young guys on Senators because he coached against them many times in the AHL. “We were in Syracuse and they were 45 minutes away in Binghamton,” Cooper said. “We played 8-10 times a year. We were sick of each other.”
Who’s Hot: The Lightning power play scored all three goals for the team in a 3-2 win Thursday against Florida. Victor Hedman had the game-winning goal in overtime and an assist. He ranked second in the NHL among defensemen with 15 multi-point games last season. …Kyle Turris and Alex Chiasson scored goals for the Senators in their loss to the Predators on Thursday. …Erik Karlsson led all defensemen last season with 18 multi-point games. Lightning coach Jon Cooper said the Senators captain is “so fast he can beat his own icing.”