Yzerman optimistic despite Bishop’s struggles at Worlds

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There were a few eyebrows raised when Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop — the lone NHL netminder on Team USA’s entry at the World Hockey Championships — lost his starting job to 19-year-old John Gibson midway through the tournament.

There were more raised when Bishop failed to win it back, and spent the remainder of the tourney as a backup.

One person trying to put a positive spin on the situation, though, was Bishop’s GM — Steve Yzerman.

“You can take a positive approach to every situation you go to and learn from it and benefit from it,” Yzerman told the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s good for him.

“[Bishop] hasn’t played a ton and the more things you can experience — obviously, we all hope things go well — but you can learn a lot when they don’t go as well and be better for it.”

Bishop went 3-2-0 in the tourney with a 2.83 GAA and .876 save percentage. Those sub par numbers were exacerbated in a game against Slovakia where a pair of gaffes — a puckhandling error that led to a goal, a weak shot through his legs — ended up costing the Americans in a eventual 4-1 loss.

Bishop, 26, did show some positive signs upon being acquired by the Bolts at the deadline.

His first game was a 45-save shutout against Carolina, yet his numbers at the end of the year with Tampa Bay weren’t great: 3-4-1 record, with a 2.99 GAA and .917 save percentage.

But as far as Yzerman’s concerned, it’s all a part of the process.

“The biggest thing for goaltenders is mental toughness and the ability to come back the next night regardless of what happened the previous night,” he said.

“”That comes with time. Play a lot and you learn to deal with situations good or bad. Any of these experiences help a lot.”

Related

After starring for Team USA, Ducks goalie Gibson ‘ready for the NHL right now’

Zetterberg on pace to play 1,000th game in Joe Louis Arena farewell

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Barring injury, Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg will get the opportunity to make his 1,000th NHL game even more special.

Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill confirmed today that Zetterberg will play tonight and tomorrow in Carolina, putting the 36-year-old on pace to play his 1,000th game on Apr. 9, the date of the final Wings game at Joe Louis Arena.

The Wings, who will miss the playoffs for the first time since 1990, have eight games left in their regular season. They host New Jersey on Apr. 9.

Tonight’s game was originally scheduled for Dec. 19, but had to be postponed due to poor ice conditions at PNC Arena.

Isles sign Northeastern captain Stevens

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John Stevens, who just wrapped a four-year career at Northeastern University, has signed a two-year, entry-level deal with the Islanders, the club announced on Monday.

Stevens, 22, went undrafted but emerged as a valuable player for the Huskies, culminating with a senior season in which he served as captain and averaged better than a point per game (28 in 25 contests).

Stevens is the son of longtime L.A. Kings associate coach John Stevens, who formerly served as the bench boss in Philly.

A third member 0f the Stevens clan, Nolan, also played this season at Northeastern — his junior campaign — and was taken by St. Louis in the fifth round of last year’s draft.

McElhinney to start for Leafs tomorrow

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Curtis McElhinney will start in goal for the Maple Leafs when they host Florida tomorrow.

Which means Toronto’s regular starter, Frederik Andersen, will not.

Andersen, hurt Saturday in Buffalo, only lasted 20 minutes of practice this morning. The Toronto Star, citing a Leafs source, is reporting that Andersen “took a blow to his jaw from a player in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Sabres.”

McElhinney is 4-5-0 with a .919 save percentage in 10 appearances for the Leafs this season. He told reporters that tomorrow will be the biggest start of his NHL career.

It remains to be seen who will back up McElhinney against the Panthers. The Leafs have recalled goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL on an emergency basis. All three netminders were on the ice today.

Update:

Expect Sparks to be the back-up tomorrow.

Toronto has a three-point playoff cushion, with eight games remaining.

The Leafs also recalled forward Kasperi Kapanen, the 22nd overall draft pick in 2014. Kapanen, 20, has 18 goals and 25 assists in 43 games for the Marlies this season. He’s expected to replace Ben Smith on the fourth line, alongside Brian Boyle and Matt Martin.

Habs sign d-man Mete, who ‘does everything’ for junior team

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Victor Mete, Montreal’s fourth-round pick at last year’s draft, has signed his three-year, entry-level deal, the club announced on Monday.

Mete, 18, is in his third year with OHL powerhouse London, and finished this season with 15 goals and 44 points in 50 games. He’s developed a reputation as a terrific skater, and often plays alongside fellow Knights d-man Olli Juolevi, who the Canucks took fifth overall at last year’s draft.

London assistant coach Dylan Hunter had high praise for Mete this season.

“When it comes to little nuances of his game, stick on puck, knowing when to make a play and when there isn’t a play to just get it out, he’s one of the best there is right now,” Hunter said, per the London Free Press.

“He does everything for us.”

Mete has one year of junior eligibility remaining, so it’s likely he’ll be back in London next season. At 5-foot-10 and just 180 pounds, he’s undersized and could use another year of development before turning pro.