TAMPA — Lightning G Ben Bishop wants to play every game.
He's a workhorse, with only two goalies in the NHL having played in more games the previous two seasons than Bishop's 150 (the Blackhawks' Corey Crawford and the Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist).
But with Tampa Bay recently putting Bishop in a platoon with Andrei Vasilevskiy, Bishop made his first start in five days Thursday against the Flames. Bishop, who started the first eight games of the season, and 12 of the first 14, has played in just three games the past two weeks. He can feel the impact of the rest.
"In Minnesota (Saturday), I felt really good, one of the better games I felt as far as mentally and everything over the … beginning of the year," Bishop said. "That was kind of refreshing, having more energy, (being) more mentally focused, something I hadn't felt in a little bit.
"The schedule worked out well, where we kind of played every other game, and both of us stay sharp as far as not a big gap between games."
Vasilevskiy has gone 2-1-0 in his three starts since getting called up from AHL Syracuse on Nov. 1 after missing the first month of the season due to vascular surgery for a blood clot. Coach Jon Cooper said he wants to make Bishop and Vasilevskiy a "1 and 1A tandem," with both goalies getting enough games so they're at peak performance. Cooper said the upcoming schedule has been mapped out but it won't always be the two alternating games.
Bishop said playing in 87 games last season combined between the regular season and playoffs gave him a new appreciation for time off.
"Last year I had a pretty good perspective on how long the season can be," Bishop said. "Before, I used to kind of get real upset when I wasn't going. You want to play every game. But after last year, when you're going as long as you did, you kind of realize that game in early November against Buffalo maybe wasn't as important as you made it out to be."
Bishop can see the benefits, especially in regards to the minor injury he'd been dealing with early in the season.
"I think you'd be lying if you said rest didn't help in any way," Bishop said. "Definitely feel better."
POULIN DEALT: The Lightning traded G Kevin Poulin to Calgary for future considerations, relieving a goalie glut at Syracuse and freeing up a contract spot.
Poulin, claimed off waivers in late September, opened the season as Bishop's backup but never played in a regular-season game. Poulin also didn't play for the Crunch, with Kristers Gudlevskis and Adam Wilcox splitting the starts. Poulin was making $175,000 at the AHL level and $600,000 at the NHL level.
NUTS AND BOLTS: D Nikita Nesterov was a healthy scratch. … Cooper continued to decline to comment on a report that he has been named to the coaching staff for the North American team (players 24 and younger from the United States and Canada) for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. That should become official soon.
Contact Joe Smith at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.