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Lightning's Bishop won't play in Game 7

Goalie says he's 'not close enough' for a return against Penguins

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop will not return for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Bishop has not played since sustaining a lower-body injury midway through the first period of Game 1, when his stick tangled with Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist. Bishop twisted in the opposite direction, with his stick pinned against the left post, before falling to the ice and being carried off on a stretcher several minutes later.

 

After participating in the Lightning's optional morning skate Thursday, Bishop said he was never considered available for Game 7.

"It's better," Bishop said. "It's still getting there. It's still a lot better than it was a couple days ago and I feel like it's even closer. … [Playing] wasn't much of a thought. I'm not there yet. I'm not close enough. You want to be out there, but it's just not that close enough yet to debate."

Bishop said he hopes to return during the Stanley Cup Final, if the Lightning advance.

"That's the goal here," he said. "I'm sure right around there, there will be more of that decision-making process. But you never know. Just wait and see. In four or five more days, we'll kind of get that, 'Maybe you can play, maybe you can't.' "

Video: TBL@PIT, Gm1: Bishop exits with injury in the 1st

Bishop said he feels well enough that if he played a different position, he would be able to play. But with the lingering injury, Bishop said his recovery is equally mental and physical.

"It's just the goalie position," he said. "If I was a forward, I'd be able to play, but just the movements, going down in the butterfly, moving around, you don't want to be thinking about it when you're out there, so it's just a matter of getting better and not having to think about it when you're playing."

Bishop is 8-2 with a 1.86 goals-against average and .939 save percentage in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Vezina Trophy finalist was 35-21-4 with a career-low 2.06 GAA in the regular season.

In Game 7 of the 2015 Eastern Conference Final, Bishop made 22 saves to shut out the New York Rangers for the second time in three games and help the Lightning advance to the Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Bishop said he believes his teammates, including goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, 21, can repeat that performance, but also expects to experience stress Thursday.

"It's way more nerve-wracking," Bishop said. "As crazy as that might sound, it's way more nerve-wracking having to watch the game. When you're out there playing, you're not thinking about it, you're just doing, you're not thinking. When you're watching it, you're doing a lot of thinking.

"So, it's tough to watch. Every game has been nerve-wracking, now it's Game 7. It's going to be pretty tough."

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