Eleven games into the NHL season and Ben Bishop is still in training camp.
Well, at least that’s the way the Ottawa Senators back-up goaltender is choosing to look at his long waiting game to get off the bench and see some shots in an actual game.
Two weeks ago Friday, Bishop saw his only game action of the year, a 6-4 defeat to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Before that and ever since then, he has watched as number one netminder Craig Anderson has stolen the show game after game, leaving opposition shooters shaking their heads.
All the while, Bishop’s name continues to pop up in trade talks wherever there’s a perceived need elsewhere. The Calgary Flames, anyone? Meanwhile, down in Binghamton, 21-year-old Robin Lehner continues to push for a return to the NHL. Lehner posted a 29-save shutout in a 3-0 win over the Adirondack Phantoms Wednesday, improving his record to 17-7-1, with a goals against average of 1.79 and a save percentage of .948.
Bishop, though, knows he has to be patient in his current situation. After Thursday’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, will get his chance Saturday against Winnipeg? Next Tuesday versus Buffalo or next Wednesday in Pittsburgh? He has no idea.
“I’m kind of looking at it almost like a training camp right now, like I’m getting ready for my first game of the season,” he said before Anderson started his seventh consecutive game Thursday against the Carolina “It’s probably one of the longest stretches (of not playing) that I’ve ever had. So, I’ve just got to look at it that way. I’ve always played well in training camp and pre-season games.”
Bishop is trying to make the most of shorter than usual practices – the Senators are typically staying on the ice for only 30 minutes due to the compressed schedule – and the extra work he is putting in with goaltender coach Rick Wamsley.
“It’s still early, there are still (37) games left,” Bishop said. “(Anderson) is the best goalie in the league. You can’t say ‘I wish they were sitting the best goalie in the league and playing me’. The team is winning, so I have nothing to be bitter about, nothing to complain about it. You’ve got to learn from him. You try to take as much as you can from him.
“He’s got the hot hand in a short season and you’ve got to roll with it. I’ve just got to be ready when I am called upon – hopefully sooner rather than later – but it’s out of your control.”
Bishop can also do little about the fact he figures prominently in trade speculation. He could be part of a package if general manager Bryan Murray chases a front-line centre to fill the void left by Jason Spezza’s back surgery or if the team wants to upgrade its defence with a veteran who can play among the top two pairs.
Murray has previously talked to both the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames. Calgary’s netminding situation turned dicey this week, considering that Miikka Kiprusoff suffered a lower body injury Tuesday.
“To be honest, when I first heard (trade rumours), I thought something might go down,” said Bishop. “And after that, well, it’s just kind of one of those things where it’s a waste of time, trying to think about it. If it happens, it happens, but as of right now, I have zero thoughts about that. I love this team. I love the guys in this dressing room. The only time I ever hear about it is if it’s on TV and I’m watching. I’m not looking around at the blogs.”
WHAT’S DEVELOPING ON THE FARM? While the B-Sens are anxiously awaiting the return of one defenceman from Ottawa in the next few days, they continue to hold their own, atop the AHL standings. Veteran NHLer Brett Ledba announced his return to pro hockey by scoring an empty net goal in Wednesday’s 3-0 win over Adirondack. Corey Cowick and Danny New also scored for the Senators…The mystery continues about when Senators winger Guillaume Latendresse could possibly return to the ice for what the organization is labelling as “whiplash”. Latendresse hasn’t played or practiced with the team since the Senators 5-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Jan. 30…Senators fans should recognize a couple of familiar, hated names among the healthy scratches Thursday night. Florida Panthers coach Kevin Dineen kept Alex Kovalev out of the lineup against the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers coach John Tortorella gave Brian Boyle the night off versus the New York Islanders.