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Olympic door not fully shut on Lightning's Bishop

Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop, foreground, could gets a U.S. Olympic team invite if others are injured.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop, foreground, could gets a U.S. Olympic team invite if others are injured.

CALGARY — We do not know for sure if Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop will start tonight against the Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

But wouldn't it be interesting to see Bishop face the team whose acting general manager, Brian Burke, was part of the selection committee that kept him off the U.S Olympic team?

"I did notice that," Bishop said of the coincidence of facing Calgary two days after the disappointing news.

Bishop, though, reiterated Thursday that having Los Angeles' Jonathan Quick, Buffalo's Ryan Miller and Detroit's Jimmy Howard selected ahead of him did not create any hard feelings.

There also isn't any sense directing his disappointment at one person who may or may not even be in the arena tonight. Better, Bishop said, to look at the big picture.

"It'd be nice to keep playing as well as I've been playing," he said, "and hope they regret it."

Bishop, 27, has been staunch for Tampa Bay. His 21 wins (21-5-3) entered Thursday tied for second in the league. His 1.89 goals-against average was fifth, his .935 save percentage was third and his three shutouts were tied for second.

The statistics are better than those of Quick, Miller and Howard. The red flag was a lack of experience, Bishop said he was told by Panthers general manager Dale Tallon, also a part of the selection committee.

But even with just 75 NHL games and zero playoff appearances, Bishop apparently was close enough that if a goalie cannot play — Quick and Howard have battled injuries this season — he could still be invited.

Bishop said Tallon also told him during their phone call: "Just keep playing well and you never know."

What we know about Bishop is he is good at letting go of disappointments. He spoke of a few years back expecting to be named to the AHL All-Star team only to go as a reserve. In 2011, he expected to make the Blues roster out of training camp but was sent back to AHL Peoria.

"Whatever doesn't kill you will make you stronger," Bishop said. "You've got to deal with it and just keep working hard."

Like Wednesday, when after hearing he had not made the Olympic team, he had 28 saves in a 4-2 win over the Canucks.

"Nobody can say Ben didn't lay it all on the line to make that team," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "He controlled everything he possibly could. What he's controlling here is a chance to play hockey in late April and May. If you ask Ben, would you rather be making a push for the Stanley Cup or playing in the Olympics, I think he'd say he'd rather be in the playoffs."

But come on, Bishop was asked, wouldn't he like the chance to show Burke what he and the selection committee missed?

"I've met Burkie a couple of times," Bishop said, not taking the bait. "I have a lot of respect for the guy. He's a great guy. It's one of those things. They had a tough decision. I tried to make it as hard as I could on them."

Tonight, Bishop said, would only be about making it hard on the Flames.

. Tonight

Lightning at Flames

When/where: 9; Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary

TV/radio: Sun Sports; 970-AM

Key stats: The Lightning has won a season-best four consecutive road games. … RW Marty St. Louis has eight goals, 13 points in nine games against his first NHL team. … C Valtteri Filppula has five goals, 11 points in his past eight games. … The Flames have been outscored 36-20 in the first period. … Calgary and former Lightning G Karri Ramo is on a three-game losing streak in which he has a 3.26 goals-against average and .892 save percentage.

Watch party: Ducky's Sports Lounge, 1719 W Kennedy Blvd., Tampa

Olympic door not fully shut on Lightning's Bishop 01/02/14 [Last modified: Thursday, January 2, 2014 10:38pm]

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