When the roster was announced for the 2015 All-Star Game, six goalies were listed to represent their teams: top vote-getter Corey Crawford, along with those picked by the NHL: Pekka Rinne, Sergei Bobrovsky, Roberto Luongo, Carey Price, and Jimmy Howard.
Since then, two of the six chosen (Rinne and Howard) have been replaced due to injuries, adding Jaroslav Halak and Marc-Andre Fleury to the roster.
However, Bobrovsky was injured during Wednesday night’s game against the Winnipeg Jets and fan-favorite “Bob” is in doubt to attend the All-Star game.
Which might open the door for another member of the Tampa Bay Lightning to fly north.
I have made the case in the past for Ben Bishop to win the Vezina Trophy and believed he could have made the Team USA Olympics roster, neither of which occurred. This honor too will pass him by. While Bishop is a key reason why the Bolts are first in the Eastern Conference and a true All-Star for his team, his numbers don’t scream All-Star goalie among the entire NHL.
Currently, the Tampa Bay Lightning have three team members heading to Columbus: Steven Stamkos, who is fourth in the league in goals; Tyler Johnson, who is eighth in points, seventh in assists and second in +/-; and Jonathan Drouin, a highly touted rookie with a bright future ahead of him.
Bishop, while a finalist for the Vezina last season, will have too stiff of competition from other deserving goaltenders. With Anaheim’s Frederik Andersen second in the league in wins (26 in 38 starts) and Michael Hutchinson second in save percentage (.935) and goals against average (1.90), Bishop’s case and his middle-of-the-pack rank in every category except for wins is on shaky ground.
The Lightning’s top spot in the Eastern Conference can also be pegged on the All-Stars already named for the Bolts: although Bishop is fifth in the league in wins at 24 in 37 games played, the Lightnings’ firepower put them fourth in the league in goal differential at +29. Bishop isn’t the main reason why the Bolts are winning, unlike his Vezina finalist year.
Braden Holtby, also holding better numbers (eighth in save percentage, GAA and wins), has made a name for himself with his performance during the Winter Classic and his turnaround improvement this season with new goalie coach Mitch Korn.
The NHL will need to choose a replacement goalie soon. While Bishop has been great for the Lightning, he is not up to par with the league’s best goaltenders.
Michelle Timian fell in love with hockey after watching a game between the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs in 2006 and has been following hockey ever since. She is a graduate of Western Illinois University with a degree in Creative Writing and is more comfortable in front of a keyboard than on skates. She also blogs for the New York Rangers at blueshirtsunited.com.