Senators notebook: Bishop knows work isn’t finished

Ben Bishop was disappointed he didn’t make the St. Louis Blues last season.

Senators notebook: Bishop knows work isn’t finished
Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson, left, and Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Lee Stempniak, right, vie for the puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game on Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Denver. The Penguins won 3-2 in a shootout. (AP Photo/Chris Schneider)

TAMPA, Fla. — Ben Bishop was disappointed he didn’t make the St. Louis Blues last season.

But Jaroslav Halak got one spot based on seniority and Brian Elliott played just well enough to beat Bishop for the backup spot.
Next September the 25-year-old goalie, all 6-7 and 215 pounds of him, faces the same scenario. He’ll be battling Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner for a position on Ottawa’s depth chart.

With the one-year, one-way contract extension he just signed, Bishop will have a little more leverage than in did in St. Louis, since he’ll have to clear waivers if he’s sent to the minors, and with a price tag of only $650,000, he’d be cheap.

But he’s not foolish enough to think that’s any sort of guarantee.

“I don’t think there are any promises in this game,” he said.

“You’ve just got to play well. That’s what it comes down to.

“Obviously there’s a little bit of insurance with the one-way contract, but it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t play well.”

Regarded by some as the best goalie not in the AHL, Bishop was a sought-after commodity at the trade deadline. In a coincidence, his first NHL opponent as a Senator, the Tampa Bay Lightning, was among the serious bidders.

He brings impressive stats to the Senators. He was 2-1-0 in three games with Binghamton in the last week, and 24-14-0 with a league-leading six shutouts before he was traded from the Blues farm club in Peoria to Ottawa.

Now he just has to show the Senators he can deliver in the NHL. One of his first tasks on Tuesday was to begin learning the names of his teammates.

“I excited,” he said.

“It’s nice to be called up and be here with the team.

“I’m sure there will be some nerves. Everybody gets them, but when the puck drops it kind of goes away. I just try to stay big, be patient, and stop the puck.”

Meanwhile, 20-year-old Robin Lehner headed back to Binghamton with a 2-2-0 record from this latest audition but coach Paul MacLean said he was pleased with Lehner’s work in the net.

“I thought he played real good, obviously in the games he won,” said MacLean.

“In the Chicago game (a 2-1 loss) he allowed it to be respectable, and we can’t fault him, really, on the game in Florida (a 4-2 loss).

“So we gave him an opportunity to show us he could be a goalie here.

“But at the same time we’re going to show Ben Bishop we have confidence in him, and give him an opportunity to see what he can do to be a goalie here.”

NEW LIFE FOR LEE: Brian Lee had a hard time staying in the lineup in Ottawa, so coming to Tampa and getting slotted right into the top six has given him a nice chance to jumpstart his career.

“He’s played well for us,” said Tampa coach Guy Boucher.

He’s a big body, he’s played physical for us, and he made two terrific plays to help us win the other day (against the New York Rangers). He’s helped us.”

Lee, staying in hotel just across the parking lot from the St. Pete Times Forum, caught up with a couple of his former teammates on Monday night, but said Tuesday’s game would be all business.

“I play for this team now,” he said.

“Tampa is my team now. It’s just another team over there now as far as I’m concerned.

“I’ll have a couple of friends over there before and after the game, but no friends during.”

Asked if he would be following the usual custom of pinning some money on the bulletin board as an incentive to beat his former team, he stickhandled.

“I don’t know if we’re allowed to say that,” he said.

Which pretty much said it all.

ANDERSON TAKES A SKATE: Craig Anderson, wearing his goalie pads and a hood, got on the ice after his teammates on Tuesday morning and took a bit of a skate.

He wasn’t using a stick, but in his injured right hand he carried a short piece of the handle.

Though not entirely sure, coach Paul MacLean thought Anderson would be getting the stitches out when the team returned to Ottawa from this road trip. That’d make it easier for him to begin holding a stick.

However, he’s still not expected back in the immediate future.

KARLSSON FINED FOR SLASH: Before he left for the morning skate, Erik Karlsson had a conversation with Brendan Shanahan, the NHL’s vice-president of discipline, that was more or less one-sided.

It was to inform Karlsson that he was being fined $2,500 for his two-handed slash on Florida’s Sean Bergenheim during the third period of Sunday’s 4-2 loss.

Karlsson was irritated. The Senators were losing 3-2 at that point and seconds earlier Bergenheim had stuck out his knee on him.

But that was no justification for the slash – and Karlsson accepted the verdict.

“It is what it is,” he said.

“It’s not something I can change right now. It was a bad play by me, and something that shouldn’t be on the ice.

“He explained. I understood. I told him I was fine with it. It’s his job.

“I made a bad decision, and it was worse maybe than it was meant to be, and that’s why it turned out to be what it is right now.”

NEW LIFE FOR COMMODORE, TOO: The trade deadline also gave Mike Commodore a new life.

With the Detroit Red Wings, he had only played 17 games and it wasn’t likely he’d be playing many more for the rest of the season.
He knew he’d have to go to a team where he’d be able to play if he wanted to continue his career, so the move to Tampa was a godsend.

He’s played four straight games since arriving, averaging around 15 minutes a game.

Even better is that he loves Florida.

“Life in Florida is great,” he said on Tuesday morning.

“If Tampa doesn’t re-sign me, I might stay here anyway. This place is awesome. I’ve been here for a week and I’m not going anywhere.”

This new affection for Florida, however, has cost him 20 to 30 of his 42,000 Twitter followers, after his humour wasn’t appreciated in a video clip he tweeted to illustrate his love of the Sunshine State.

Fans of the movie Slapshot will remember the scene.

It’s the scene in which Chiefs captain Johnny Upton and Morris Wanchuk are toasting a rumoured move to Florida and Wanchuk offers his off-coloured salute to the women of Florida that is not even close to being acceptable for a family newspaper.

Commodore said he had second thoughts about hitting the send button.

“But in the end, I thought what the heck,” he said.

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