Sens and big Bishop come to Bell Centre

Bishop

The Canadiens host the Senators on Wednesday and will get their first look at big Ben Bishop. the 6-foot-7 Sens rookie goalie — the biggest netminder to ever play in the NHL — who apparently will start for Ottawa.

Acquired from the Blues at the trade deadline, Bishop has started the last three games with Number 1 goalie Craig Anderson not yet ready to practice with the club after slicing his finger in a kitchen accident two weeks ago. Bishop has won two of those games (beating the Lightning and Rangers), lost the post-game skills competition in the third last Saturday to Buffalo, and has looked good enough to continue getting the call from coach Paul MacLean.

While Bishop is a newcomer to most, I confess to having seen the St. Louis native play a number of times in the U.S.  junior North American Hockey League (where I worked during the NHL lockout) for the Texas Tornados in 2004-05. Highly agile and surprisingly smooth for such a big teenager, he led the Tornado to the league championship and was drafted by his hometown Blues that June after being selected to the NAHL All-Rookie team.

He went on to star at the University of Maine for three seasons, twice backstopping them to the NCAA Frozen Four.  He made his NHL debut in 2008, But he largely played for the Blues AHL team (in more ways than one) except for a seven-game run last season when Jaroslav Halak was injured with a bruised hand. Bishop got his first shutout in his fifth NHL game just over a year ago against the Oilers.

This season, he was penciled in to be Halak’s backup, but Brian Elliott’s excellent training camp changed the Blues’ plans and Bishop was returned to the AHL. Just prior to his trade, he was leading the league in shutouts (6), save percentage (.926) and victories (26) and was tied for first in GAA (2.25) while playing for the Blues farm team in Peoria. He was MVP of the AHL 2012 All-Star Game.

Asked on Tuesday if he’d be ready for the Bell Centre crowd, Bishop said (video), “I heard it’s like playing in a soccer stadium: They’re hootin’ and hollerin’ the whole game. It should be a lot of fun. It will kind of take you back to your college days when you get screamed at the whole game, so it should be fun.”

Not only will this be a big game for big Bishop, it is also big for his new teammates. With the Bruins losing to the Lightning on Tuesday, Ottawa has a chance to tie Boston with 83 points atop the Northeast Division (although after Wednesday, the Sens will have played two more games than the Bruins). So you can expect them to be well motivated.

The coach, however, is not getting his young team get too far ahead of itself.  “You want to peak at the right time,” MacLean said Tuesday (video). “We want to finish the season first and we to get to the 82nd game and see where we are. If we’re in the right spot, we feel we’ll be playing fine.”

One guy continuing to play just fine for Ottawa is Erik Karlsson, who is getting serious consideration for the Norris Trophy. He scored twice against Buffalo and now has 10 goals and 11 assists in his last 13 games, leading all NHL blueliners in goals (18) and assists (51) and is well ahead of runners-up  Brian Campbell and Dennis Wideman in points (69 to 44).

This is the first of back-to-back games against the Senators, who rode the train from Ottawa on Tuesday sporting fedoras, just like Blake Geoffrion’s grandfather and great-grandfather probably did back in the day.  The Habs visit the Senators on Friday night.

Here’s how the Sens should line up for Wednesday’s game:

Colin Grenning, Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek
Rob Klinkhammer, Kyle Turris, Daniel Alfredsson
Nick Foligno, Jim O’Brien, Chris Neil
Kaspars Daugavins, Zack Smith, Erik Condra

Filip Kuba-Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen-Sergei Gonchar
Chris Phillips-Matt Gilroy

Ben Bishop
Alex Auld

13 Comments

  1. Habitant in Surrey says:

    …My one comment(s) tonight (actually 4 AM PST :) ) will be a little eclectic, as in ‘all over the place’
    …first to Stu … ‘Mr Big Stuff’ ! …haha …I’m typing as I listen Stu :)
    …second, for the future best interest of Our Montreal Canadiens in this business called the parity/cap-era of the NHL …making sure We get ‘what WE want’ in this July’s draft is of critical importance …especially not allowing the Weeds to get ‘what WE want’ in this July’s draft :)
    …third, neither Our Players nor Coach are programmed ‘to lose’ …They are not going to lay down and ‘lose’ because of any potential of improving Montreal’s interests in the draft …each Player’s and the Coach’s priorities are Their personal resumes and self-interests, not the Montreal Canadiens …as it should be, and I would never want Our Players nor Coach to contemplate tanking …but Our GM should be telling Randy Cunneyworth He wants to ‘evaluate’ the Geoffrions, Leblancs, Nokelainens, Whites, Bourques, Webers, Kaberles, Campolis et al for 2012/13 …in other words dramatically increase these Players TOI, and significantly reduce PK’s, Cole’s, Patches’, DD’s, Pleck’s, Markov’s, etc..
    …third, a draft-choice is never a ‘sure thing’ …even if the Weeds selected a choice before Us, there is the possibility We make the ‘right’ choice in fourth (for example), and the Weeds as usual make the ‘wrong’ choice with third selection …BUT !!!, I still rather, in this lost season from Hell, have ‘the odds’ stacked in Our favor to control Our own destiny by having to choose Top 2 to 3, than taking the chance that for once in a lifetime the Weeds do get lucky and select the next Malkin-clone
    …fourth, Rob Klinkhammer !?! …WHO ??? …Ottawa has shown it does NOT necessarily take ‘years’ to rebuild a team
    …Ben Bishop ? …the next great American-born NHL goalie ?

    _________________________________________________________
    HIS’ Official Habs’ Fan Theme Song: Morrissey ‘There is a light that never goes out’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjObvIQtsLk&feature=related

    …the Montreal Canadiens organization and Our Fans, as a whole need to feel this current cold frigid splash of reality, …this process will, hopefully, give Us a long needed sense of humility, not humiliation …and help to revive and renew Our tattered culture of high hockey ideals, and ultimate success in the near future
    …ride the wave, is all We can do as Fans: …Ownership must make the right choices, persevere, and act not talk

    Habitant means PASSIONATE HOCKEY
    http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=423049

  2. Gerry H says:

    So, I guess it’s time to think about what this team will look like next year. The trade and free agent markets will be weird, I would think, given the pending CBA negotiations. Will there be a rollback? Will there be amnesties? New rules on longer term contracts? You’ve got to wonder what agents are telling their clients about signing contracts this summer.

    So the Habs will finish the year with a rocking first line, by any reasonable measure, and a mixed bag of young talent and experienced vets filling out the rest of the forward positions. On defense, Markov’s return (and assumed return to form) means the team has three rock-solid top four guys. Emelin and Diaz are strong top-four prospects and the former is getting very close. In Goal, Price and Budaj are a solid tandem.

    It’s clear that the team needs added firepower up front. The first line is cruising along at a 60-65 point clip. Looking at the remaining available pieces, you have four players (Plekanec, Bourque, Gionta and Gomez) with legitimate 50 point production potential, but in need of some chemistry (and, in one case, career CPR). Then you have a group of young prospects and gritty role players like Eller, Leblanc, White, Moen and Darche.

    Leaving the top and bottom lines as God intended, gives you this:

    1. Cole DD Pacioretty
    4. Moen White Darche

    Of the remaining pieces, I frankly would like to see a healthy Plekanec, Gionta, Gomez given a chance to develop into a solid third line, playing minutes that give these guys room to contribute on special teams. That leaves Eller, Bourque and Leblanc and all the other prospects in the system. In my view that’s the group in need of a serious upgrade into second line form. It’s not clear to me that Lars Eller is ready to centre a legit second line, which brings up the whole Eller vs Pleks debate. In any case the team has to at least replace the scoring that was shipped out to Nashville, so a trade or free agent signing seems likely. Parise? Nash? Koivu? Parenteau? Penner? Semin? Jagr? It’s impossible to predict how the team will deal with it, but there appears to be some room to move, with the Cap expected to jump by $5 million, and the room created by the AK46 and Cammalleri deals. Bottom line: They have to pick up a scoring forward.

    Likewise on D, the team is one step shy of the balance it needs. There is only one shutdown specialist in the group, Josh Gorges. The Habs have plenty of offensive firepower on the blue line, with Markov, Subban and Kaberle. They’ve got hitting and shot blocking from Emelin, Subban and Gorges. But they need another, preferably imposing, shut-down Dman to help protect against all of those blown leads.

    It will be interesting to see how the negotiations with Subban and Price go. I wonder if uncertainty over the CBA will shorten those deals.

    I wonder who’ll be negotiating all of this on behalf of the Habs. Seems to me that a fast and furious series of announcements are likely in mid-April if the decision to fire Gauthier has been made. The new regime will need all the time it can get with the draft and free agency looming just a few weeks down the road.

  3. BeeGee says:

    What a year! The habs even suck at sucking… Looks like we’ll be drafting yet another defensemen that will be NHL ready in 2-3 years … :(
    Not being in hunt for the playoffs at all is bad enough… but this really blows.

    • slychard says:

      You have a Gainey rookie card Avatar. You have a handle that resembles a group of musicians that, even though thier early music was good their later music was pigeon-holed as the birth of DISCO. I’m talking 70’s disco garb. So. Be a realist in your hate. No. The habs will draft a big forward. says moi.

      +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
      Kiss my hAbSS!!!

      • rogieshan says:

        Nice poke, Sly.

        You sure that it’s not a Moe Robinson rookie card Avatar?

        Failing at Yakupov, I’m thinking the Habs will target Alexander Galchenyuk as their next best player on the drafting board.

      • BeeGee says:

        I fail to see your point. Yes that’s my face on Bob Gainey’s rookie card (hence BeeGee) and yes I’m a big fan of the player, if not the GM. No shame there. Not a fan of disco, at all.

        I’m no hater, but I am certainly disappointed. The one hope for the rest of the season for me was that the habs get to pick an impact player that could contribute next season. What’s the point in just missing the playoffs?

        If they finish 22nd and they go with their usual ‘best player possible’ draft philosophy, there’s a big chance they pick a dman.

        We shall see.

        Other than that, judging from your own avatar, you’re probably sexually frustrated and as a result are negative and condescending to people you don’t even know.

    • Stev.R says:

      We are in the exact same spot we were three weeks ago!!!!

      And considering there is 5 forwards – Yakupov, Grigorenko, Forsberg, Galchenyuk, and Faksa – that would be good additions to the Habs, we still have room to get better before we worry about not getting a good pick. Combined with the fact that there will some dmen going in the top 5, we could realistically fall to 10 and still get one of them

      • BeeGee says:

        You might be right that a top 10 pick might still be ok, although I think probably only 2 or 3 forwards in this year’s class could have an immediate impact in the NHL… Trouble is, if the organisation goes with the best player possible philosophy, there’s a good chance they draft a defensemen.

  4. The Cat says:

    That is some fall from grace for the leafs. At this rate, theyll end up in the bottom of the EC.

    [Disclaimer]: I’m a hockey fan. I care about the habs, but probably not as much as you.

  5. slychard says:

    Stu, you be my favorite of them HIO’ers… Great info, THX.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Kiss my hAbSS!!!

  6. zoobydooby says:

    4-1 sens

  7. vlhorowitz says:

    #failforNailFAIL


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