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Bishop's goaltending keeping Lightning afloat

WASHINGTON — There aren't a lot of mysteries when it comes to Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop.

He loves movies.

"I'm not a very big critic. I like them all," he said.

He's not an avid reader but if someone recommends a good book, he'll pick it up. Right now it's The Wolf of Wall Street.

Even that thing he does before games when he pushes into the line of teammates waiting to get on the ice, bends and does a deep knee bend isn't all that profound.

"More just to get my legs going," Bishop said. "No rhyme or reason."

If you are looking for that, ask coach Jon Cooper what Bishop's breakout season has done for Tampa Bay.

"I can't stress enough," he said, "how that has kept us in the race."

Bishop's 15 victories (15-5-1) are tied for fifth in the league. His 1.98 goals-against average and .934 save percentage entered Monday fourth among goalies with at least 20 games.

Since Steven Stamkos has been out with a broken right leg, Bishop has carried the team, starting nine of 12 games with a 4-3-1 record, 1.76 GAA and .943 save percentage.

He has been even better in his past five starts, going 2-2-1 while stopping 157 of 162 shots for a 0.99 GAA and .969 save percentage.

Given the Lightning is averaging just 2.1 goals without Stamkos and has 13 goals in its past seven games, Bishop's performance has been a godsend.

"I feel really good," said Bishop, who likely will face the Capitals tonight at the Verizon Center. "I feel like I'm stopping the ones I need to and keeping the team in the game. Since training camp we've been going good and practicing hard and playing well."

Still, being the league's tallest goalie, at 6 feet 7, with notable puck-handling skills doesn't guarantee success.

For goaltenders coach Frantz Jean the key is Bishop's adherence to "blue-paint strong" and "being in the shooting lanes." Simply put, that means being in the right place in the crease and staying square to the shooters.

"His performance is based on his preparation and his competitive level," Jean said. "Every part of the system we're using is cohesive with each other and makes our game a lot more consistent. He's been in the right spots. He's in the right position in the shooting lanes. It's all to his credit."

Bishop is a talker on the ice. Defenseman Eric Brewer called it being "social.

"He lets the D man know what's up and not up," Brewer said, "if guys are coming, plays to make. 'You're in my way. You're not in my way.' It's great."

Cooper said he is impressed with Bishop's ability to not let goals affect his concentration or confidence, something Bishop said comes with the territory.

"Sometimes they're going to beat you," he said. "As long as you are doing the right things and are in the right position, you can't get too worked up about it."

That means Bishop can leave the game at the rink so he can concentrate on the real mystery.

"Figure out," he said, "what you're going to do for dinner."

Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@tampabay.com.

BY DAMIAN CRISTODERO

Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — There aren't a lot of mysteries when it comes to Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop.

He loves movies.

"I'm not a very big critic. I like them all," he said.

He's not an avid reader but if someone recommends a good book, he'll pick it up. Right now it's The Wolf of Wall Street.

Even that thing he does before games when he pushes into the line of teammates waiting to get on the ice, bends and does a deep knee bend isn't all that profound.

"More just to get my legs going," Bishop said. "No rhyme or reason."

 

Bishop's goaltending keeping Lightning afloat 12/09/13 [Last modified: Monday, December 9, 2013 11:24pm]

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