Banged-up Ben Bishop ready for a break
Goalie Kristers Gudlevskis was naturally excited he'll start tonight against the Blackhawks, his first NHL start in nearly 19 months.
But goalie Ben Bishop is also glad he might get a break, having played eight consecutive games to open the season. Bishop said he's been dealing with a minor undisclosed injury the last four or five games, so rest could do him good, with the Lightning playing next Tuesday in his hometown of St. Louis.
Bishop said it's not related to the torn groin he suffered in the Stanley Cup Final.
"Obviously playing eight in a row, and two preseason games, you're talking about 10 games this month so far," Bishop said. "I've had a pretty good run there. I've been dealing with a little something-something, and to be able to hopefully get a couple nights rest, it'll be nice.
"It's been a grind, but I wouldn't want it any other way."
Bishop takes pride in being a workhorse. His 150 regular-season and playoff games played from 2013-14 to 2014-15 seasons are the third-highest among NHL goalies, per the Elias Sports Bureau. Chicago's Corey Crawford has played 154, Henrik Lundqvist of the Rangers 153.
With some uncertainty at backup, as Andrei Vasilevskiy has been sidelined following vascular surgery, Bishop has carried a heavy load so far. But with Vasilevskiy nearing a return, planning to practice Monday, the Lightning might try to give Bishop some rest, knowing how important his health is to the team's long-term success.
"It'll be nice to get a couple days," Bishop said. "And hope it gets better."
For the time being, it appears Gudlevskis will be Bishop's backup, especially after Kevin Poulin was put on waivers Saturday. Poulin, claimed from the Islanders in late September, did not play in a game for Tampa Bay, nor was he particularly impressive in practices. Gudlevskis, meanwhile, has been sharp in his first two games for AHL Syracuse, stopping 53 of 55 shots in two wins. Gudlevskis said that gave him some confidence, though he didn't know a call-up was coming Friday.
"You never really expect that," Gudlevskis said. "So it's always good to hear."
With Vasilevskiy needing some practice time, as well as a couple conditioning games with Syrcause, potentially starting next week, expect Gudlevskis to remain with the Lightning for the time being. The Crunch plays Wednesday in Toronto, as well as a homestand over the weekend. Adam Wilcox and Allen York are goaltending for them now.
More from today: The Lightning, coming off a 4-3 overtime win over the Jets Friday night, did not skate this morning, just had meetings at their downtown hotel. We won't know the status of C Brian Boyle, who missed Friday's game due to a minor undisclosed injury, until coach Jon Cooper's pre-game press conference this evening, but he could be back... Expect D Nikita Nesterov to be scratched... Bishop made 33 saves Friday night, including a big one on a breakaway in overtime, but he still lamented the miscue he made on the Jets tying goal in the third, when he fanned on a pass behind the net, leading to a Blake Wheeler shorthanded goal. "I just fanned on it," Bishop said. "Ninety-nine times out of 100, maybe even more than that, it doesn't happen. That's going to happen every now and then throughout the season, was just at an unfortunate time. I didn't let it bother me."..The Lightning has downplayed the "revenge" factor of tonight's rematch with the Blackhawks, which beat Tampa Bay in the Stanley Cup Final. But there's still got to be some added emotion at the United Center tonight. "They had to change things around, but they're still a very good team," Tyler Johnson said. "For all purposes, they're still the Blackhawks that beat us.. To play in the Stanley Cup Final, that's a pretty big dream that you had. There was some unfinished business. We wish it would have turned out different. But it is what it is, now it's a whole new season, can't really think about the past too much. As far as we're concerned, we're just playing one game." Said Bishop: "Obviously you had your chance and didn't come up with it, so you're not going to sit here and sulk. We had our time to do that after the game and now it's a new season, new teams. It's a fun place to play, especially on a Saturday night. The place will be rocking."