The dominant storyline heading into Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals was the health of Ben Bishop: Would he play? How effective would he be? Would he last the entire game?
Well, Bishop didn’t look great physically, but he certainly got the job done, stopping 36 of 38 shots and leading the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday.
“You just got to get in the way of the puck and stop it – and that’s exactly what he did,” NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “He’d like to have the Brad Richards goal back, but there’s nothing he’s going to do on the Brandon Saad goal. I thought he played relatively well, especially in the first period. Outside of the Brad Richards goal, he played fantastically well.”
As for Bishop’s health, though, the jury has not yet reached a verdict. Or better yet, it has reached a verdict; it just hasn’t told us.
“It’s hard to judge,” McGuire said. “I walked into the building with (Bishop) yesterday morning and he seemed fine. I spoke with him last night right after he’s done his TV commitments – just quietly on the ice one-on-one – and he seemed fine after that, too. I don’t know what to tell you except what his coach (Jon Cooper) told me on television – (that Bishop is) a guy who’s 6-8 and sometimes he looks a little awkward getting up and down. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I take him at his word. I’ll defer to the coach.”
Many fans and analysts, of course, saw right through Cooper’s claim. Some are even angry about it. They feel as though they’re being lied to.
McGuire doesn’t quite see it that way.
“We’re a league that does not have injury disclosure,” he said. “We do have salary disclosure, but we don’t have injury disclosure. That’s one of the things when you’re around the league, you almost never ask about injuries just because you’re never going to get the straight scoop on any of it.”
Indeed, coaches will often say a player has a “lower-body injury” or an “upper-body injury” and is “day-to-day.” That’s usually all you’re going to get.
Is that okay, or should that change?
“I coached in the league for a long time, especially at this time of year – playoff time,” McGuire said. “The one thing I can tell you is once you find out that guys have certain body parts that are injured, targeting becomes a very real issue because of the sticks and because of the boards, so you got be really careful with that. I know one thing: As a coach, I always felt it was my responsibility to protect my players from that kind of stuff, from targeting. And I think a lot of guys that work in the league and make their living that way, they probably feel the same way. But it’s not easy.”
Either way, McGuire would prefer that fans not focus on Tampa Bay’s injury-disclosure strategy, but rather on the fact that all three games in this series have gone down to the wire and been decided by one goal.
“(Bishop’s injury) shouldn’t be the storyline,” McGuire said. “The storyline should be (that) we’re involved in a fantastic final. It really is a great Stanley Cup Final.”