The Tampa Bay Lightning have one of the best goaltending duos in the NHL.
Ben Bishop has proven to be one of the top goalies in the league over the last three seasons. He’s played over 60 games during that stretch and he’s helped get the Bolts to the Eastern Conference Final twice and the Stanley Cup Final once.
When Bishop went down to injury last postseason, backup Andrei Vasilevskiy showed that he’s just about ready to be a number one goalie.
Whenever there are two talented goalies on the same team, things could get awkward, especially in Tampa Bay’s situation.
Bishop is entering the final season of his contract and with the Lightning’s salary cap situation being what it is, it would be surprising to see them bring him back on a long-term deal.
There’s a good chance that Bishop is grooming his successor. That could be awkward (think Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers), but it doesn’t sound like it is.
“‘Vasy’ looks up to Bish,” said goalie coach Frantz Jean, per the Tampa Bay Times. “Bish helps Vasy. It’s really a good relationship between, both mentor and mentoree type relationship. It helps the team.”
There will always be competition when it comes to playing time, but instead of fighting it, the veteran has embraced the role of mentor.
“It’s fun to watch each other and encourage each other,” Bishop said. “You want each guy to do well because it makes it easier on you.”
Last year, the Bolts starter played in 61 games, while the younger Vasilevskiy was between the pipes 24 times.
What happens to this relationship if the starts are distributed a little more evenly? We don’t know for sure, but it sounds like this partnership is solid.