It really isn’t an earth shattering idea — when your starting goalie gets hurt right before the playoffs, you are going to struggle. The Tampa Bay Lightning found that out during their first round series against the Montreal Canadiens. Tampa Bay’s star goalie, Ben Bishop, was injured late in the season, and didn’t participate in a game during this years playoffs. The Lightning were swept by the Canadiens.
The Lightning are a good team, loaded with young talent. Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson are two young, exciting forwards who are on the rise; they also have a bona fide superstar in Steven Stamkos. However, all that means nothing when the team loses their best player, Bishop, who carried them for most of the season.
Bishop was outstanding all year, posting a .924 save percentage, 7th in the NHL, and a 2.23 goals against average, also 7th in the NHL. It is hard to lose a star goaltender and expect to win in the playoffs. The drop off from Bishop to Anders Lindback and Kristers Gudlevskis is too much for any team to overcome.
There are a plethora of reasons why the Lightning lost this series. You can say that the injury to Stamkos was a turning point; you can say that the awful goalie interference goal in Game 3 swung things around. However, when it comes down to it, the injury to Bishop is the reason the Lightning were swept. They have a bright future because of Bishop, and they will be a force for years to come.