Goalie nods: Bishop sits as Vasilevskiy goes for fifth straight win


We’re not ready to call it a goalie controversy just yet, but we’re monitoring — tonight, Andrei Vasilevskiy will start for the Bolts in Columbus, having won his last four starts.

Backing him up? No. 1 netminder Ben Bishop, who has lost his last three starts.

To be accurate, though, Bishop’s struggles aren’t isolated to just the last week or so — he’s had problems throughout the year. Bishop finished October with an .880 save percentage and though he rebounded nicely to start November — in his first three games, he stopped 92 of 96 shots for a .958 save percentage — things quickly came crashing back to earth. He’s now allowed three goals or more in five of his last six appearances.

All told, Bishop is 7-8-0 on the year, with a 3.04 GAA and .902 save percentage.

Vasilevskiy, meanwhile, has been flat-out dominant. He’s posted a.977 save percentage during his four-game win streak and, on the year, is 6-1-1 with a 1.50 GAA, and two shutouts.

Tampa Bay’s first-round pick in 2012 (19th overall), Vasilevskiy has long been known as the club’s goalie of the future. But with Bishop struggling and his contract up at the end of the year, could the big Russian be the club’s goalie of the present?

For Columbus, Sergei Bobrovsky starts in goal.


Cam Ward will look to continue his run of fine play when the ‘Canes take on the Rangers at MSG. Henrik Lundqvist starts for New York, after stopping 40 of 42 shots in a Thanksgiving Showdown win over Philly on Friday.

— It’s Tuukka Rask versus Steve Mason as the B’s take on the Flyers at Wells Fargo.

Robin Lehner faces his old squad as the Sabres visit Ottawa. He’ll be up against former goaltending mate Craig Anderson, who is expected to leave the team following tonight’s game to be with his wife.

Petr Mrazek is back in net for the Wings, after playing reasonably well (two goals on 24 shots) in an OT loss to Montreal over the weekend. No word yet on a Dallas starter, but Antti Niemi played in last night’s OT loss to the Blues.

Cory Schneider, who has lost three of his last four starts, goes for the Devils. He’ll be up against Connor Hellebuyck, fresh off a terrific 42-save shutout against the Preds on Sunday.

— Good matchup in Chicago, as Roberto Luongo and the Panthers take on Corey Crawford and the ‘Hawks.

— The Avs continue to roll with Calvin Pickard as Semyon Varlamov recovers from injury. No word yet on a Nashville starter.

Frederik Andersen is expected to get the start for Toronto in the latest installment of McDavid vs. Matthews. Cam Talbot, who despite losing the last two games has played very well, is back in for the Oilers.

Devan Dubnyk gets the night off in Vancouver, as the Wild will start Darcy Kuemper. No word yet on a Canucks starter.

— No surprises for Montreal, as the Habs will go with Carey Price in Anaheim. The Ducks will counter with John Gibson.

Mike Smith, coming off a 41-save victory over Edmonton on Sunday, starts for the Coyotes. Martin Jones goes for San Jose, as per usual.

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