Saturday, December 16, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

Ben Bishop practices, his absence looming large

MONTREAL — Lightning G Ben Bishop, out since April 8 with a left elbow injury, took a significant step in his rehab by participating in Tuesday's morning skate and taking live shots.

Coach Jon Cooper even indicated that if the Eastern Conference quarterfinal with the Canadiens was extended to perhaps five or, more likely, six games, Bishop might have a chance to play. But with Tampa Bay eliminated, the point is moot.

The four-game sweep, and especially Tuesday's Game 4 made clear how much Bishop meant to the team and how it missed him in the playoffs.

G Anders Lindback was good at times but a major disappointment in Game 4 as he allowed three goals on 20 shots before he was pulled 5:42 into the second period after allowing a second bad goal.

For the series, Lindback had a 3.91 goal-against average and .881 save percentage.

"I really can't put it into words," Bishop said, speaking generally about sitting out. "It's been real tough to have to watch."

Bishop, hurt when he fell in the first period against Toronto when he extended to glove a floating puck, had a 2.23 goals-against average and .924 save percentage this season, both team records.

"It was nice to see him out there," captain Steven Stamkos said. "I know it's been tough on him not being able to play this time of year."

"It's a process to get back out there and it's going well," Bishop said. "It was a big step to go out on the ice and take some real shots and make some saves."

"Hopefully," he said before the game about a return, "it will be sooner rather than later."

With Tampa Bay eliminated he's looking more at five months.

MEDICAL MATTERS: D Radko Gudas sat out Game 4 with a previously undisclosed knee injury. … D Sami Salo missed his second straight game with an upper-body issue.

tough game: Stamkos had a look at an open net in the first period but his stick broke as he shot. In the second he got a roughing penalty for punching Alexei Emelin, whom Stamkos believed tried to draw a penalty on him by diving.

"That's the way I play," Stamkos said. "I play with emotion. Obviously, I wasn't happy with Emelin going down pretty easy."

gone missing: C Valtteri Filppula, who tied for the team lead with 25 goals and was second with 58 points, was invisible in the series with one assist and at minus-4, though there was speculation he was hurt. … RW Ryan Callahan had zero points and was minus-2.

PROBLEM SOLVED: To D Matt Carle, the drama of Callahan's disallowed Game 3 goal could have been avoided if there was a rule that stopped play when the goalie and an attacking skater make contact in the crease.

"Blow the play dead right then and there," Carle said. "The way it is now, you let the play develop and now there's a bunch of controversy where it could have been nipped in the bud pretty quickly."

TOO HOT: The Lightning and Panthers shouldn't get their hopes up about hosting an outdoor game anytime soon. Commissioner Gary Bettman said the weather is not conducive.

"The weather in Florida is a little tougher to deal with at night," Bettman said. "In L.A., when we dropped the puck it was about 50 degrees. It can be 70 and humid (in Florida) at night, and so it's more of an issue. For the Florida teams, at least initially, we have to look at them as potential visiting teams."

Bettman shrugged off suggestions this season's six-game stadium series was overkill.

"Six out of 1,230 games, so I can't say we overdid it," he said, though he added the series will have fewer games next season.

ETC: D Keith Aulie was the 12th Lightning player to make his playoff debut this season. … Forwards Nikita Kucherov, Tom Pyatt and Richard Panik also were scratched.

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