Snake-bitten. That’s the only way to describe the Tampa Bay Lightning‘s freakishly high number of key injuries suffered halfway through the 2013-14′ season.
And just when they thought things might be looking up, they might have yet another potential blow to deal with. Starting goaltender Ben Bishop left Sunday night’s game against the Edmonton Oilers after suffering an apparent upper body injury. He’s expected to be re-evaluated Monday morning in Winnipeg.
For a team that’s already endured more adversity than one could imagine, this could really spell trouble. Bishop’s been the Lightning’s lone constant, turning in one spectacular performance after another, keying a midseason ranking near the top of both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference.
His 22-5-3 record and .935 save percentage both rank second in the league, while his four shutouts tie him with Boston’s Tuukka Rask for the NHL lead. Even his 1.86 GAA places him in the top five of all netminders right now. That’s nothing short of incredible–or should I just say incredibly clutch? Either way, you get the point.
The thought of losing Bishop for any amount of time, especially with star center Steven Stamkos still rehabbing a broken right tibia suffered Nov. 11, is bad news for a couple of reasons. First, the Lightning are averaging 2.71 goals per game and allowing 2.33. That’s a pretty thin margin for error.
Which brings me to my next point. Backup netminder Anders Lindback doesn’t always seem to make the big, sometimes game-changing and momentum-swinging, stops Bishop’s become known for thus far. His 3.21 GAA serves as painful evidence of that fact.
Either way, the Lightning are hoping for the best regarding Bishop. Like it or not, much of Tampa Bay’s playoff hopes depend on him continuing to lead the way, usually resulting in big wins.