TAMPA — The expected turned into reality on Tuesday: the Tampa Bay Lightning will start the playoffs without the services of top goaltender Ben Bishop.
Bishop was injured on April 8 when he landed awkwardly on his left arm after diving for a puck early in the first period against Toronto. No timetable has been established for his return and his availability during the opening-round series against Montreal is in doubt.
Anders Lindback will start Game 1 after allowing only two goals in three games last week.
“Even though Ben is not going to be around for Game 1, what we have is a goaltender in Anders LIndback that has done nothing but bide his time, work his tail off, be a great teammate and our guys are cheering for him,’’ Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper said. “His last three starts, playing against teams that were battling for something, and he’s done nothing but rise to the occasion.’’
Lindback said after practice he had not been told if he was getting the call for Game 1, but was preparing as if he will start.
“I’m more excited, this is what you play for and what you work hard for all year when you start to play hockey,’’ Lindback said. “It’s nice coming in with a couple of wins and low scoring games, but this is going to be another level and me and the whole team have to step it up. We have to be at our best to be able to take on this opportunity.’’
Though Bishop did take to the ice briefly on Tuesday, he did not dress in full gear, leaving his chest protector and jersey off while doing a workout with assistant medical trainer Mike Poirier. Bishop did not skate with the team during practice.
Back on the ice
Other than Bishop, the full team took to the ice for practice Tuesday morning, including the top two scorers LW Ondrej Palat and C Valtteri Filppula. Palat sat out the regular season finale after taking a shot to the side of his head Friday against Columbus, while Filppula missed the final two games with an undisclosed lower body injury.
“I feel good now and I feel ready for (Wednesday),’’ said Palat, who led Tampa Bay with 59 points and was plus-32. “This is my first (NHL) playoffs and I would be mad and sad to miss any games. But I feel pretty good to play tomorrow.’’
The Lightning led the league in points by rookies (201) and an NHL-high eight rookies played at least 41 games this season, so Montreal will have an edge in experience during this Eastern Conference matchup.
“I’ve got confidence in our young guys,’’ veteran F Ryan Callahan said. “From what I’ve seen so far, in terms of how they handle themselves as professionals on and off the ice, I don’t think the big stage is going to surprise them at all.’’