When it comes to the Tampa Bay Lightning, most people look no further than their potent offense. It’s almost like they expect Steven Stamkos to score 40-50 goals a year and Martin St. Louis to continue defying the odds by racking up points like money at a casino.
Their goaltending, on the other hand, has been a carousel that produced no real answers. Until Ben Bishop got his first real chance to grab the starting role and ran with it. Something practically nobody since 2004 Cup-winning goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin could do with consistency.
Bishop’s outstanding play so far during the 2013-14′ season not only gives the Lightning stability at one of hockey’s most important positions, but also allows the team to win games they usually wouldn’t. Take Thursday night for example. Against the hapless, yet skilled, Edmonton Oilers, his 38 saves were the sole difference between this team earning two points or none.
However, it isn’t just that single game making him the go-to guy for head coach Jon Cooper on a nightly basis these days. Being tied for the league lead with 10 wins while posting a 2.14 GAA and .928 save percentage leaves very little choice. Especially when you take into account the fact he has two wins over the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.
Now, the only question is whether Bishop can keep playing at an extremely high level. If so, the Lightning might be able to challenge the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings, among others, for the Atlantic Division title both this year and in the future.