Ben Bishop has been shut down for the rest of the regular season, and he will likely be out for at least a few games in the playoffs.
It doesn’t take a genius to realize that this is a big blow to the Lightning, even if Bishop only misses a game or two in the first round against the Canadiens. It seems obvious that the Bolts will now not try to beat out the Habs for the 2nd seed in the Atlantic Division (they’re 2 points back with 3 games to go, and they’d lose in the ROW tiebreaker), but that’s a far more minor point when looking at everything. The Habs are by no means an elite team, but neither are the Lightning, and it’s hard to see them beating Montreal without Ben Bishop for the entire first round.
After Tuukka Rask and Semyon Varlomov, Bishop would likely be the Vezina winner, as he’s performed excellently this season. His .924 SV% is 4th among guys with at least 50 games played, and he’s been an anchor for Tampa Bay all season long. Another reason why his loss really stings is that Tampa’s backup, Anders Lindback, is not exactly Tuukka circa 2011 as far as backups go. He has an .884 SV% this season in 21 games, and the Lighting wouldn’t have gone after Bishop last year if they felt comfortable with the 25 year old Swede.
This news affects the Bruins because the Lightning are an easier matchup than the Canadiens, to put it simply. Sure, it’d be nice to beat the Habs, but I want the B’s to see the Lightning in the 2nd round of the playoffs just because of the easier matchup. Beating a rival is nice, but I’d rather not take the chance. The Lighting aren’t as good without Martin St. Louis, and the Bruins won all 4 games vs. the Bolts this year. The Habs seem like the only team in the East who really knows how to punch the Bruins right back in the mouth.
The good news is that Bishop’s injury opens the door for the Lightning to call up everyone’s favorite Latvian goalie — if only because we don’t know any other Latvian goalies — Kirsters Gudlevskis. You may remember him as the guy who almost singlehandedly beat Team Canada in the Olympics despite a 59-16 shot differential. Now, if Lindback struggles, he could come in and matchup against Carey Price and PK Subban yet again. The 2nd time’s the charm.