Jon Cooper 'optimistic' Ben Bishop plays in series
While it's uncertain when Lightning goalie Ben Bishop will return, coach Jon Cooper is "optimistic" it'll be during this Eastern Conference Final.
Bishop, who missed Game 2 Monday with a lower left leg injury suffered in Friday's Game 1, has yet to take part in a team practice since. And there's no skate scheduled today upon the Lightning's arrival back from Pittsburgh.
But Cooper said the schedule shouldn't impact the return of Bishop, who is considered day to day. Bishop would still likely need to be part of a team practice/skate before resuming game action, meaning Andrei Vasilevskiy is likely to start Wednesday's Game 3.
"I think, when you're playing every other day, it's tough for anybody to come back," Cooper said. "That's where those three-day breaks are big in that regard. That's helped us out in a few of these series, just trying to help get guys back. But ultimately, whether it's one day, two days, three days, if he's ready to go, he's ready to go. I don't think an extra day is going to help out. But he's making progress every day. So hopefully, we'll see him soon."
Meanwhile, Cooper didn't provide an update on wing Ryan Callahan, who missed Monday's game due to the flu. Cooper said Monday Callahan had it "really bad," and might not have got out of bed that day. "I felt awful for him," Cooper said. "The ultimate gamer is Ryan Callahan, and you know when he couldn't get himself out of bed, that's an unfortunate loss for us at a time when we need him."
Cooper had said Monday he hoped Callahan would be ready by Wednesday. Asked Tuesday if he was optimistic about him playing, Cooper said, "I'm always optimistic."
More from today: The message from Cooper, along with players like defenseman Victor Hedman and center Tyler Johnson, is that the Lightning needs to play much better if it's going to advance to the Stanley Cup Final. Tampa Bay and the Penguins are tied 1-1 heading into Wednesday's Game 3. "We've got to play better to win this series, there's no doubt," Cooper said. "I don't think -- we haven't put our best foot forward. I think -- you know, now that we've played them two times, we know a little bit more what to expect, but I know we've got more in the tank than what we've showed. Cooper said one concern is puck possession, or lack thereof, saying they're "not playing as a group of five." Hedman said having fewer than 20 shots in each of the first two games is "not good enough." There continued to be praise for Vasilevskiy, who made 38 saves, including a spectacular glove save on Sidney Crosby that made ESPN's No. 1 on top plays. "Unbelievable," Hedman said.