Following our report that Ben Bishop had left the Tampa Bay game last night with an apparent right leg injury, the Lightning have announced that he’ll be out for three to four weeks with a lower-body injury. The team had already recalled Kristers Gudlevskis from Syracuse to replace him.
Even taking the optimistic timeline of three weeks means Bishop will be unavailable for the team’s next nine games, placing an even heavier burden on Andrei Vasilevskiy. The young netminder has already made 12 starts this year, well on his way to break his career high of 21 set last season. Though Bishop was still technically the starter, the three-year extension that Vasilevskiy signed this summer indicated that the team is ready to hand him the reins.
For Bishop, this is just another hit to his upcoming free agency that was already being affected with his play. Last year’s Vezina runner-up was having the worst season of his career, carrying a mediocre .909 save percentage into Wednesday. While he’s likely to bounce back somewhat, being on the wrong side of 30, enduring injury and seeing a downward trend in performance are three pretty big red flags.
It’ll be interesting to see what the Lightning do over this stretch, as it contains two back-to-back situations. Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times wouldn’t be surprised to see Adam Wilcox get a chance in one of those games, as the 24-year old is dominating at the AHL level.