Senators notebook: Sens aren’t surprised by Tampa’s success

While the Tampa Bay Lightning are earning league-wide respect as one of the NHL’s surprise teams, Senators players have a somewhat different take on it.

TAMPA — While the Tampa Bay Lightning are earning league-wide respect as one of the NHL’s surprise teams, Senators players have a somewhat different take on it.

The surprise, they say, is that the Lightning struggled so much last season, despite an impressive lineup.

The biggest change is having Ben Bishop in goal.

Bishop has been the difference game after game, allowing the Lightning to tread water over the past three weeks despite playing a gruelling stretch of 11 games in 19 days.

If there was a supposed goaltending battle between Bishop and Anders Lindback at the outset, it has since been no contest. Bishop has been one of the league’s best, boasting a 24-6-4 record, with a 1.93 goals against average and .935 save percentage. Lindback is 5-10-1, with a 3.16 average and .882 save percentage.

SNAP SHOTS

  • Don’t get Senators captain Jason Spezza started on the Lightning’s Martin St. Louis. Spezza will never stop gushing about him. “He’s just a guy I have a lot of respect for,” said Spezza. “When I’ve been around him, I’ve really enjoyed my time with him. I roomed with him a couple of times at the world championships. I think he’s a top-notch player that anyone would love to play with. I don’t know how you don’t find room (on the Olympic team) for a guy who is that hard on pucks and can bring that experience to a team. But those are just my thoughts.”
  • The Senators don’t expect any additional punishment against Washington Capitals centre Mikhail Grabovski, who received a 10-minute misconduct for attempting to claw at the eyes of Senators centre Zack Smith in the third period of Tuesday’s 2-0 Senators win. “You see it every now and then, usually it’s accidental,” said Senators winger Chris Neil. “In that case, it wasn’t — it looked like he was trying to claw him. He has done stuff like that before.” Last March, Grabovski bit the Canadiens’ Max Pacioretty, upset that Pacioretty was choking him.
  • The connections between Senators coach Paul MacLean and Lightning assistant coach Rick Bowness are seemingly endless. Bowness, the Senators’ first head coach, was born in Halifax, 90 minutes away from MacLean, who grew up in Antigonish, N.S. When Bowness first stepped behind an NHL bench as a coach, serving as a 28-year-old assistant coach with the Winnipeg Jets, the 25-year-old MacLean was one of his players. MacLean says Bowness was one of the best coaches he ever played for.

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