Ben Bishop was on the ice Wednesday morning. He was not on the ice Wednesday night.
Bishop, who battled through a 36-save victory despite an obvious lower-body injury in Game 3, was scratched for Game 4. Highly touted Russian rookie Andrei Vasilevskiy, just 20, made his first playoff start in his place, making 17 saves in a game effort.
Bishop said after the morning skate that Game 3 “felt like any other game” in terms of how much he had to move laterally, but clearly, the injury was too much to play through again.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper continued to provide little information about Bishop’s status, and wouldn’t commit to a goalie for Game 5, even with an extra day off before Saturday.
“Gosh, I wish I could give you an answer to that,” he said. “Bish is going to play again in this series, there’s no question. I just don’t know which game.”
Bryan Bickell thought he played well in Game 3. Joel Quenneville thought otherwise. So Bickell was back out, and Kris Versteeg was back in for Game 4.
“Frustrating, but they switch the lineup for a reason, to get a spark from somebody, or some line,” Bickell said. “It’s disappointing. I’ve been off for a week, played one game, thought it went pretty well. But there are still more games to go. I just have to make a big impact when I get back in.”
Bickell sat out the second and third periods of Game 7 of the Western Conference final, plus Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, with vertigo. He leads the NHL in hits this postseason, but has no goals and just five assists. Versteeg, who played just one game in the second and third rounds, has fresh legs and looked quick and effective in the first two games.
“Every time you’re out, you want to be in,” Versteeg said. “And every time you’re in, you want to make a point and make a mark. So, I’m excited. … We need everyone. If we’re going to win the Stanley Cup, we’re going to win it with everyone in our lineup.”
Kimmo Timonen isn’t the only veteran chasing his first Stanley Cup. Antoine Vermette is, too. Being so close to realizing his goal after 11 seasons, Vermette is trying to keep an even keel, and not get too high or too low.
“It’s exciting,” he said. “I mean, this is fun. Obviously, you want to be in a different situation trailing by one, but this time of year, every game is very thrilling.”