In today’s goalie news, we’ll discuss a big birthday for an even bigger goalie, and we’ll touch on a legend reaching a major milestone.
Big Ben Bishop’s Birthday
33 years ago today, Benjamin Manning Bishop, Jr. and his wife, Cindy, welcomed their newborn son, Benjamin Manning Bishop III, to the world. Now, that child is better known as “Big Ben” Bishop, goaltender for the Dallas Stars. And the 6-foot-7 giant and three-time Vezina Trophy finalist is unquestionably one of the better goalies in the NHL when healthy.
Bishop just finished a 2018-19 season in which he put up outrageous numbers. He had 7 shutouts, which put him second in the league. His .934 save percentage (SV%) and 1.98 goals against average (GAA) were first and second, respectively. And his metrics truly blew away the competition: his .689 quality start percentage (QS%) and outrageous 32.24 goals saved above average (GSAA) both topped the list.
This season, after a rocky start, he’s back to peak form. He’s climbed to fifth in GSAA at 8.65, and his .928 SV% ranks seventh. He’s also been starting more games, at 15 so far on the young season, relegating Anton Khudobin to a more traditional backup role. All this he’s accomplished after a tornado ripped the roof off of his Dallas home one night early in the season.
Though born in Denver, Colorado, Bishop grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, where his career reached a high point last playoffs as he carried the Stars through four-plus periods of incredible hockey before fellow St. Louisan Pat Maroon ended the game in double-overtime. He could not quite overcome the St. Louis Blues, who drafted him in 2005, but it wasn’t for lack of trying, with 52 saves in 85:50 of ice time.
Bishop has yet to bring home hardware in his career, but there may still be time. If he continues to perform like he has this season, he could propel the Stars into the playoffs and pick up some trophies along the way. He’ll look to continue to build momentum with a birthday start tonight at home against the Winnipeg Jets.
454 For Lundqvist
They don’t call Henrik Lundqvist “King Henrik” by accident. Wednesday, in a 4-1 victory over the Washington Capitals, the career-long New York Rangers goaltender climbed into a tie with Curtis Joseph for fifth on the all-time goalie wins leaderboard.
Lundqvist made 30 saves on 31 shots in his 454th victory. The 37-year-old Swedish netminder has not had the strongest season, and with the likes of Alexander Georgiev and Igor Shestyorkin waiting in the wings, everyone knows his days on Broadway are numbered. With that said, the next two milestones, Ed Belfour’s 484 wins and Roberto Luongo’s 489, aren’t out of reach. Patrick Roy’s 551 likely is, and no one will ever touch Martin Brodeur’s 691.
The Rangers play a road back-to-back this weekend, on Friday against the Ottawa Senators and on Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens. Lundqvist should get one of those starts, giving him his first opportunity to move into sole possession of fifth place. Of course, with Marc-Andre Fleury neck-and-neck with Lundqvist at 450 wins, that spot might not be his for long.
For all things between the pipes, check out the THW Goalie Page
Larmi’s Sweet Moment
Far too often, we get lost in the day-to-day drama and glory of the NHL and forget what it’s all about. We get distracted by flashy goals, vicious fights, and big headlines like Mike Babcock’s firing, and forget that at its core, hockey is a sport and sports are supposed to be fun. Fortunately, Pittsburgh Penguins’ goaltending prospect Emil Larmi has not forgotten that fact. Just watch this:
Larmi took a moment after practice to let one of the youngest Penguins prospects get a few shots in, and the little tyke even snuck one past the Finnish netminder (although we think the tendy might have let him have this one).
Larmi, 23, signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Penguins prior to the season and has been assigned to their American Hockey League affiliate of the same name in Wilkes-Barre / Scranton. He’s struggled mightily in just three starts, but maybe after taking shooting practice from this promising youngster, he’ll start to regain his form.
Trip to the Archives: The 5 Greatest
Who are the five greatest goaltenders in the history of the NHL? Everyone will have a different answer. Here’s ours (spoiler alert, the all-time wins leader is not number one!)
Like our list? Think you can do better? Let us know what you’d change in the comments. And as always, remember to keep your stick down and guard your five-hole!
Stephen Ground is an author with The Hockey Writers and is co-host of the Two Guys No Cup Podcast. He enjoys studying the numbers and providing fresh looks at various stories.