The Tampa Bay Lightning have aggressively tried to find a solid netminder over the last few seasons. They appear to have found one in Ben Bishop, who is slowly cementing his status as the No. 1 goalie in Tampa and is making his way up the list of top netminders in the NHL.
There’s still a lot of work to be done by Bishop and his team. This is by no means a sealed deal for the 26 year-old goalie, but it’s easy to see a top-end netminder in flashes when you watch Bishop play. He’s aggressive and always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Like any goalie getting used to the starting role, he’s open to getting blown out from time to time.
Yet this is a season where we’ve seen Henrik Lundqvist get pulled a handful of times while Steve Mason is killing it for the Philadelphia Flyers. It’s been an odd year for goalies in 2013-14.
Bishop was under siege when the Lighting played the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday. He saw 43 shots and stopped 38 of them. While he’s not always going to get the win while giving up five goals, his offense bailed him out and secured a victory in overtime. If anything, that was payback for all of Bishop’s game-saving performances early on in the campaign.
While his save percentage and GAA aren’t among the league’s best right now, it’s not difficult to imagine him being a top-15 goalie by the end of the season. As he settles in and gets into a rhythm, the erratic and random six-goal games should cease. The percentages will come up, sure.
Where Bishop hasn’t struggled is in the win department. While a shiny GAA is certainly a bonus, none of that matters if you’re losing hockey games. We’ve all seen a goalie stand on his head but not receive enough goal support from his team. That isn’t likely to be an issue for Bishop and the Lightning.
He’ll receive just about all the goals that a starter could ask for from one of the most electric offensive forces in the NHL in front of him. As he becomes more confident in his game and continues to learn, Bishop could eventually evolve into the goalie that general manager Steve Yzerman has been searching for since he arrived in Tampa.