TAMPA — Ben Bishop has worked his way back into the conversation to be part of the U.S. Olympic team at February's Games in Sochi, Russia.
"Absolutely," Predators and U.S. team general manager Dave Poile told the Tampa Bay Times. "He's played terrific. He's definitely on our radar."
Not that Bishop was ever off it. He played in May for the United States at the world championship. But after losing the starting job at the tournament and not getting invited to the U.S. Olympic orientation camp, Bishop had work to do. A 10-2-0 record, 2.14 goals-against average and .928 save percentage have done it.
And Poile said that for his evaluations, a player's recent performance is more important than anything done previously for USA Hockey.
"Especially for goalies, we need guys who are playing well this year," Poile said. "Certainly that favors somebody like Ben with how he's playing."
Poile and his staff plan to meet Tuesday to compare notes. No announcements are expected until the Jan. 1 roster deadline. At goaltender, he will choose from, among others, Bishop, Buffalo's Ryan Miller, Los Angeles' Jonathan Quick, Detroit's Jimmy Howard and New Jersey's Cory Schneider.
"It would be a huge honor," Bishop said of playing in the Olympics. "At the same time, it's not my focus. If you take care of business here, that might or might not happen."
REUNITED: RW Richard Panik, with zero goals, had only seven shots in 13 games entering Thursday.
"He's got so much more in him than he's shown," coach Jon Cooper said.
Some of it came out in the 4-2 win over the Oilers. Panik, back on a line with C Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat, had three shots and assisted on Johnson's winner. Panik went to the net, deked around D Ladislav Smid, then passed through D Philip Larsen.
"That's what Richard Panik can do," Cooper said. "I put him back on that line, and it kind of energized him."
MALONE STRUGGLES: LW Ryan Malone, who began the season on the first line with C Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis, played just 9:14 Thursday and by game's end was on the fourth line with C Nate Thompson and B.J. Crombeen.
"It was a feel," Cooper said. "It was moving guys around. He brings a little more play-making ability to that line, a big body down there. I was hoping he could wear on their D."
Malone has one goal and seven points in 15 games and just three assists in his past nine games.
LOCAL FLAVOR: Oilers coach Dallas Eakins lived in Dade City until he was 7, when his family moved to Peterborough, Ontario. "I'd never skated. I was one of those kids pushing a chair around the ice," said Eakins, who played 10 NHL seasons with multiple teams, including the Panthers. "In Florida I'd be out with the snakes and moccasins on my minibike. I had a real hillbilly lifestyle."
JERSEY AUCTION: The Lightning wore camouflage jerseys during warmups as part of Military Appreciation Night. The jerseys are being auctioned at nhl.com.
ODDS AND ENDS: Stamkos has eight goals and four assists in a seven-game points streak. … LW Pierre-Cedirc Labrie and defensemen Keith Aulie and Andrej Sustr were scratched.