Entering this season, plenty of questions surrounded the Tampa Bay Lightning’s goaltending situation.

That’s not exactly a revelation with this franchise.

But nearly halfway through the season, Ben Bishop has been a revelation. In what figures to be his 27th start of the season tonight against Carolina, the 27-year-old is tied for the league lead with three shutouts, he is second in the league with 18 victories, third with a .934 save percentage and fourth with a 1.96 goals-against average.

Bishop heads into tonight’s meeting have shut out the Hurricanes twice in two outings, stopping 76 consecutive shots. In 21 of his 26 starts this season, Bishop has allowed two or fewer goals.

“He’s been our best player,’’ Lightning defenseman Eric Brewer said.

The timing of Bishop’s breakout season could not be better.

Of course he has been brilliant for the Lightning and might finally be the answer after the team’s 8-year search for a No. 1 goaltender.

But Jan. 1, Team USA will announce the 25 players who will represent the United States at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Though Bishop might not have the resume of 2010 U.S. Olympic hero Ryan Miller or Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jonathan Quick or the pedigree of Corey Schneider, the Lightning netminder is having the best season to this point of any American goaltender.

That has put Bishop’s name squarely in the sights to be one of the three goaltenders named to the roster on New Year’s Day after the Winter Classic.

“Every position is going to be difficult, and we have depth at all positions,’’ said Team USA general manager David Poile. “We have a goaltender that has won a Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe award (Quick), our 2010 Olympic goalie (Miller), and we have other goalies that are doing unbelievable this year, and that includes Ben Bishop. So I’m sure we are going to be making decisions that are going to upset some people at the end of the day, but we are just trying to do the best we can.’’

Bishop said he hasn’t given the Olympics much, if any, thought and he has been concentrating solely on the task at hand — playing well and helping the Lightning win games.

“I wasn’t ever guaranteed a spot (on the Olympic roster), so it’s more of just take care of your game here with the Lightning and if you play well enough that will come into consideration,’’ Bishop said. “So it’s one of those things where there’s (four) more games left until the selection, so if I play well in those games then I’m sure that flight to Vancouver (on Dec. 30) will be on my mind a lot.