Blues still big fans of Bishop
Lightning goalie Ben Bishop was clearly motivated to beat the Blues Saturday night, having grown up in St. Louis and getting drafted by that organization.
"It was definitely special," he said of getting a 4-2 victory.
But Bishop was all smiles afterwards, visiting with several members of the Blues staff and some former teammates. He said he had "nothing but respect" for the Blues front office or coaching staff.
Of course, Bishop would have loved being the No. 1 goalie for his hometown team, having went to many Blues games as a kid, drafted by St. Louis in 2005 and making his NHL debut for them. But the Blues stacked at goalie, and Bishop's contract running out, he was traded in 2012 to the Ottawa.
Retired NHL goalie Darren Pang, a Blues color commentator, said Saturday that Bishop has "a lot of fans in St. Louis," with the Blues happy he's gotten a well-deserved chance in Tampa Bay.
"His ability is special," Pang said. "You can't find a guy that's 6-7, 6-8 that can move and catch and play the position like a small athlete. It just goes to show how long it takes to get to this level and be able to handle what's required to be a No. 1 guy. When you're handed it, there's a lot of responsibility and a lot of pressure, so I'm really pleased with the way he's handling it."
Bishop played three years at the University of Maine after getting drafted in 2005, and performed well in parts of three seasons for the Blues' AHL affiliate Peoria. But Bishop played in just seven games for St. Louis, all in 2010, with the Blues set at goalie with both Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott in the fold.
There was just no room for Bishop in 2012, when he was traded.
"At that point, he was developing so well in Peoria," Pang said. "He was starting to really take it over. Scouts and GMs were watching, saying, 'This guy is ready to go.' Now his contract was up, was going to be a potential unrestricted (free agent), and he wanted to play, there wasn't much of an option. The Blues were rolling with Elliott and Halak. I think everybody felt good for Ben, wanted him to land on his feet and get a chance to play."
Bishop has grabbed the No. 1 job with Tampa Bay this season, going 9-2 with a 2.15 goals against average, making some key adjustments, Pang said.
"I think the one thing he had to learn is that less is more," Pang said. "It's only a net that's 6 by 4, creases are not that big. When I watched him earlier on, I thought he had to do more than he had, you don't need to move eight feet to your right, you have to move seven inches to your right and that's an area I think he's really tightened up. More efficiency, less is more."