DALLAS — Lightning G Andrei Vasilevskiy popped out near the glass during the Stars' morning skate Thursday and greeted his mentor, Dallas G Ben Bishop.
The two traded words — and laughs — from a distance Bishop, 31, is loving life in his first full season in Dallas. He's the backbone (2.47 goals-against average entering Thursday's game against the Lightning) for a playoff team, and his wife, Andrea, is due to give birth to their first child, Ben IV, in June.
And Bishop has enjoyed watching his "little brother," Vasilevskiy, shine in his first full season as his replacement as the Lightning's No. 1. Vasilevskiy, a first-time All-Star, is the likely Vezina Trophy front-runner with a 37-12-3 record and 2.34 GAA. Vasilevskiy is 49-16-5 with a 2.33 GAA since Bishop was traded by Tampa Bay at last season's deadline.
"It's been fun as a fan, and a friend, to see (Vasilevskiy) doing as well as he's doing, and some of the saves he's made are just ridiculous," Bishop said. "It's been fun to watch his growth, to see the goalie he's become. It's his first year and he's doing this. It's going to be crazy to think what he's going to do over the next 10 (years)."
Bishop marveled at some of Vasilevskiy's acrobatic saves, from his behind-the-back glove stops to others. Asked if he taught Vasilevskiy those moves, Bishop laughed. "I (did them when I) was out of position. He actually did it on purpose."
Vasilevskiy didn't play Thursday, so there was not a second showdown between the two.
"He's one of the most unique goalies in the league as far as size and flexibility and how he's able to read those plays," Bishop said. "Some of the stuff he does is amazing."
In the FaceTime
How did F Vladislav Namestnikov find out he got traded from the Lightning to the Rangers at Monday's deadline?
While on FaceTime with then-teammate D Slater Koekkoek.
Koekkoek said he doesn't get the NHL Network at his Tampa place, so he and Namestnikov used iPhone video chat to keep tabs on the latest news.
"We were both sitting on the edge of our seats wondering," Koekkoek said. "Then when we saw (the Lightning acquired D Ryan McDonagh), it didn't come out what the trade was for a while. So we were both just looking at our phones, and he ended up seeing it on TV before he got the phone call."
Lightning C Yanni Gourde may not win the Calder Trophy as the league's rookie of the year. But Gourde was named the NHL's rookie of the month for February after leading all rookies with 16 points (five goals) in 14 games. Gourde also led all rookies with six power-play points and a plus-8 rating.
• F Nikita Kucherov made progress with a more active optional skate (including shooting) but missed his second game with an upper-body injury. Coach Jon Cooper said the Lightning hopes Kucherov can return Saturday against the Flyers but won't put him in until he's 100 percent.
• G Louis Domingue started. With Peter Budaj (lower body) getting closer to a return, the Lightning could have a tough decision looming on who will back up Andrei Vasilevskiy.