“They’ve already figured him out,” the scout said. “Get him moving laterally and he doesn’t look so big anymore, does he?” That bit of insight was passed along during Ben Bishop’s rookie season with the junior A Texas Tornado in 2004-05. Seemed reasonable at the time, but looking back I’m not sure if it was a bit of sandbagging from a guy who hoped the promising goaltender would slip to his team in the draft that summer (Bishop didn’t), or a shortsighted read of a kid whose 6′-7″ frame was so far removed from the model that it forced everyone to find and focus on his flaws…or else completely reevaluate their notions of the ideal netminder. After eight years and countless knocks about his side-to-side struggles, Bishop appears to have worked out whatever kinks existed in his style. And now the Ottawa Senators, who gambled a second-round pick last season that the St. Louis Blues cast-off could shore up their nets while starter Craig Anderson was injured, might have the deepest pool of goaltending talent in the league…and a brewing controversy to go with it. Ever since he was lit up for five goals on 30 shots by Tampa Bay on Jan. 25, in his first start of the season, Bishop has been an imposing presence between the pipes. He’s won four of his five appearances — the lone blemish a 1-0 loss to Winnipeg — and given up just seven goals while guiding the Senators to just the second sweep of a four-game homestand in franchise history. His numbers over that span: a .955 save percentage and miserly 1.54 goals-against average. Yeah, he’s been good. What’s most impressive is that Bishop is shutting down the opposition under the most unforgiving circumstances. He’s starting in place of Anderson, a player who was being mentioned not only for the Vezina Trophy but the Hart before he injured his ankle. The blueline is missing defending Norris Trophy-winner Erik Karlsson. And Bishop has no room for error with leading scorer Jason Spezza and fellow top-liner Milan Michalek relegated to the IR. It’s been an eye-opening run for the team and Bishop. So why is all the talk centered around trading him?
Ben Bishop presents Ottawa Senators with some big decisions
SI | Feb 28