Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper was asked the inevitable question on Sunday, not long after he and the Lightning arrived in Chicago.
Know who your starting goaltender is for Game 3 against the Blackhawks?
“No, I don't, which would tell you, if I don't know, that Bish could be available,” Cooper said, referring to Ben Bishop, who started, but didn’t finish, Game 2 on Saturday night. “You'll have a better indication, I guess, tomorrow at the skate. Although our morning skates are all optional anyway; Bish, notoriously, he goes on sometimes during [optional skates] and sometimes he doesn’t. I’m sure you’ll get a clue then tomorrow.”
We’ll all get that clue at some point on Monday, although it may not be until game time. Will the starter be Bishop, who came out of the game, returned, then came out again for good in the third period on Saturday night? Or will it be backup Andrei Vasilevskiy, who came in relief of Bishop, stopped five shots and got the victory because he was in net when Jason Garrison scored the game-winning goal?
[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]
“Yeah, we're not sure. “If we were, probably wouldn't tell you anyway,” Steven Stamkos said to laughs. “About Vasi, we have full confidence in him. I know a lot of us talked about it last night after the game.”
The Lightning talked of having faith in either of their goaltenders much like the Blackhawks did in the first round, when a struggling Corey Crawford was replaced by Scott Darling, who played well, before Crawford regained the net. It’s still a mystery what’s ailing Bishop. TVA Sports reported Bishop suffered a knee injury. Illness and dehydration were also possible issues.
The Blackhawks aren’t too familiar with Vasilevskiy; Teuvo Teravainen knows the Russian goaltender some from international play.
“I think I've scored on him before, too,” said Teravainen with a smile. “I know they're [both] good goalies.”
Who’s starting in net for the Lightning? At the moment, we haven’t a clue. The Blackhawks don’t know either, but it won’t alter their game. They still want to get plenty of shots on him, still want to crash the net, still want to capitalize on rebounds.
“I think you approach any goalie the same way,” Brent Seabrook said. “[Vasilevskiy] played great for them the last, I don't know, five or six minutes the last game. You want to try to continue to get pucks and bodies at the net, make it tough for him to see. Get traffic. That's pretty much what you want to try to do.”