Somehow, an Ottawa Senators team that has suffered injuries to All-Star defesenseman Erik Karlsson, top scoring threat Jason Spezza and Vezina Trophy candidate Craig Anderson has still found a way to win. The Senators sit second in the Northeast Division even though Anderson has missed three straight games, as backup netminder Ben Bishop continues to stand tall in net in Ottawa.
Now in his second season with the Senators, Bishop has only allowed six goals in winning his last four starts. He made 44 saves on 45 shots against the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night and continues to make the Senators trade of a second-round draft pick (2013) to the St. Louis Blues for his services look like a bargain. Bishop appeared in 10 games for the Senators last season while Anderson was out with a hand injury, and was 3-3-2 with a 2.67 goals against average. This season he has lowered his goals against to 2.17 and improved his save percentage (.935) as well.
Bishop’s play leaves the Senators with an interesting decision to make at the end of the season (or before). Top prospect Robin Lehner appears to be NHL-ready, but Bishop still looks like a better option. Ottawa is only paying $650,000 for Bishop this season, and he would likely fetch more than that if he hits the open market in the off-season. At this point the Senators would almost be better off trying to deal Lehner and retaining Bishop’s services as a backup to Anderson. Or, given Anderson’s tendency to get hurt often they may want to try and hang on to all three.
The Senators appear to still be headed for the postseason, even without some of their top players. Hopefully the team rewards Bishop for his strong play and keeping them on a roll while Anderson is out.