At the start of the year, if someone had told you that Ben Bishop would in the running for the Vezina, it wouldn’t have come as a big surprise. Since taking over the starting goaltending position for the Lightning, Bishop has been outstanding. In his first full season he received a nomination for the Vezina, eventually being beaten out by Tuukka Rask. The following year was a solid, but more realistic season for Bishop, who was consistently backed up by the Lightning’s fantastic scoring to help cover any holes in his game. This season Ben Bishop has been, without a doubt, a truly elite goaltender.
Ben Bishop: Statistical Workhorse
This isn’t even a matter of opinions; it’s a matter of statistics. Bishop ranks second in goals against, second in save percentage and second in shutouts in 2016. Brian Elliott, the goaltender first in save percentage and goals against, has played 20 fewer games than Bishop.
Besides having stellar statistics, Bishop has carried the Lightning throughout a large portion of the season. Unlike a year ago, the Lightning are not an offensive juggernaut this season. For example, near the start of the season Bishop had a five-game losing streak despite only giving up eight goals total in those games. If the Lightning had even been slightly more offensive during that time, Bishop could have easily gone 4-1 during that span. If the Lightning were scoring at the same pace as they were last season, Bishop would be well over 40 wins on the season, not sitting at 33.
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It is also worth noting that Bishop is not benefiting from getting play against weaker teams. With back-up Andrei Vasilevskiy taking a steady rotation throughout the season, Bishop has missed out against a number of lower-ranking teams, including three games against the Maple Leafs and two against the Blue Jackets. When Bishop was started against these teams he registered two shutouts in stellar fashion.
Right now, it seems unlikely that anyone will beat Braden Holtby for the Vezina. Whenever a player is chasing a record as important as most wins in a season, it is hard to ignore their presence come award season. Despite this, Ben Bishop should at the least be a close second to Holtby. Bishop has been, without a doubt, a truly elite goaltender this season. He is the one Lightning player who has looked angry about losing in the Stanley Cup Finals and who will fight tooth and nail to get back this season. Perhaps Ben Bishop would be better qualified to win the Hart Trophy this season. With Bishop on the team, the Lightning are a threat for the cup. Without him, they aren’t even a playoff contender. That is a true testament for how important Bishop is for the Lightning.
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