Newly acquired G Ben Bishop gets first start tonight vs. Hurricanes
It didn't take Ben Bishop long to get thrown into the fire. One day after being acquired from the Senators for Cory Conacher and a fourth-round draft pick, Bishop gets the start in net tonight against the Hurricanes at PNC Arena.
"I think so," coach Jon Cooper said. "He's rested. He's a good goaltender. His numbers are good. He's proven himself in this league. We traded for him for a reason, so why not put him out there and see what he's got."
Bishop, 26, has done well this season with an 8-5-0 record in 13 games for Ottawa with a 2.48 goals-against average and .922 save percentage. His last game was March 30, so he is rested. He'd also probably like to erase the memory of that game in which he allowed four goals on 23 shots to the Maple Leafs in a 4-0 loss.
And while Bishop said he generally does not get nervous before games, he will have a few butterflies as he tries to impress his new coaches and teammates.
"I think everybody has that naturally," he said. "First game, you want to show what you can do for the guys. But at the same time, I've been doing this for a little bit now and one game is not going to make or break a year. Hopefully, I can get off to a good start tonight and keep going forward."
Other stuff from the morning skate: Captain Vinny Lecavalier, out nine games with a fractured left foot, skated in the morning and declared himself ready to play. "It feels good and my stride is strong," he said, "so I'll be playing tonight." ... Also playing is wing Brett Connolly, who on Wednesday was called up from AHL Syracuse. Connolly said he is a different player than the one who played last season as a 19-year-old rookie for Tampa Bay and at times seemed overwhelmed. "I think more confident," Connolly said when asked how he is a better player. "I played a lot of key minutes in Syracuse, and for me, confidence is my game. It was nice to play a lot of minutes. It was nice to score again and round out my game. I'm also better defensively, and I owe a lot of that to Coop." Said Cooper, who coached Connolly in Syracuse before Cooper took the Lightning job, "He's matured. He's a much better player than when I had him in October. It's just a habits thing." For instance, Cooper explained, "The first 10 games I had him he would stand behind the net the whole time. We had to sit down and I would say, 'Tell me somebody besides (Wayne Gretzky) who made his office back there and scored.' So, little things like getting him to stop in front of the net instead of going behind to wait for the cycle. He's a goal scorer, so you have to get to the net." Connolly, who had 27 goals, 57 points in 67 games for Syracuse, said the minor league experience was "the best thing for me." ... Defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron, traded this week to the Hurricanes, faces his former team tonight. "One of the worst sides of being a hockey player," he said. "They were my best buddies like five days ago." Bergeron did not want to make excuses, but said one problem with Tampa Bay was a lack of playing time, just 12 games. "It was, obviously, mind-boggling a little bit," he said. "I'm sure I could have helped." ... Goalie Anders Lindback, out with a high ankle sprain, skated Thursday and said his plan is to play again before the end of the season. He also said he is looking forward to next season working with Bishop as a tandem. "It's great for the competition," he said. "It's the same with every position. The coach makes the call who plays, so you can't be (mad) at someone else because it's not their call. We both are working as hard as we can to play and be the best out there. I never had any trouble with it. I don't think it's that hard. You have to put yourself aside and do what's best for the team."