Sportsnet.ca’s Ian Mendes tweeted: Murray on Lehner vs Bishop for back-up job next season: “Now we have competition. Performance will dicate who will be that person.”
Jack Johnson is making his debut with the Columbus Jackets as I write this and he’s paired with James Wisniewski. He’s already making his physical presence felt and his ability to move the puck will help his new team’s transition game immensely.
Marek Zidlicky is also beginning his time with the New Jersey Devils in a separate game and the offensive defenceman is teamed up with defensive stalwart Anton Volchenkov. No power plays for Jersey in the first period, but clearly he’ll be a PP1 regular with Kovalchuk, Parise, etc. Solid stretch run value in any format.
The Sens are down a goalie with this whole freak hand cutting accident of Craig Anderson, so with back-up Alex Auld’s contract set to expire this summer we saw Bryan Murray go for more than just a stretch run rental. He acquired Ben Bishop, who is posting excellent numbers in the AHL (2.26/ .928 with six shutouts) and apparently (not 100% confirmed at this writing) signed him to a one-year, one-way deal. The price? A second round pick.
We knew there was no room for Bishop to advance in St. Louis with Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott, so now at least there’s a chance for him to get his foot in the NHL door as a back-up to Anderson next season (in addition to fighting Auld for time this season while Anderson is out). This also seems to be a sign the Sens want even more development time for blue chip prospect Robin Lehner, who has seen his stats balloon in the AHL this season after last spring’s outstanding Calder Cup/ MVP run.
Bishop talks about how he’s excited to get his focus solely back on hockey, going with a team now vs. what would have been UFA status this summer and reuniting with Sens goaltending coach Rick Wamsley. Classy kid.
If you’re a Lightning fan and you’re wondering why Steve Yzerman didn’t get Bishop, he told reporters that he wasn’t willing to surrender a second round pick in this deal. “We’ve made our major moves here. As far as acquiring impact players, it’s more likely at the draft”
Flames. Ouch. A 3-0 lead more than halfway through the game turns into a 5-4 shootout loss against the Flyers. Whoops.
I loved what HNIC showed shortly after this one finished though. Andrej Meszaros had rolled his eyes after another weak goal got by Ilya Bryzgalov early on, which they showed a few times during the game. But when Meszaros had a chance to score an easy one himself and didn’t, we got to see good team spirit from Bryzgalov by giving Meszaros a tap and giving him some encouraging words. Bryz is fighting it, no question. I touched on that subject enough last week, but it’s nice to see those good teammate moments highlighted.
Another matinee to kick off a tantalizing Saturday of NHL action and, yet again, it begins with a prodigious push from prominent Pittsburgher Evgeni Malkin. 3G, 1A, +3, 4 PIM and 5 SOG, including a dazzling effort where he danced through the entire Lightning squad and their extended family to make it 6-1 at the time in what ended up being an 8-1 shellacking. Linemates James Neal (3A)