In January, Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson told head coach Paul MacLean he could play all 48 games in this lockout-shortened National Hockey League season.
MacLean did the math, and with only 99 days in the regular campaign, believed someone other than Anderson would be needed to give the 31-year-old a break periodically. Heck, even Hall of Famer Patrick Roy only appeared in 43 of 48 contests in the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season.
The compressed schedule, travel and injuries are reasons why playoff-desperate coaches might have to rely a little more on their No. 2 goaltenders over the next two months.
Enter MacLean, who marvelled at the play of six-foot-seven Ben Bishop, whose 44-save performance carried Ottawa to its fifth straight win Monday, a 2-1 shootout decision against Montreal.
“You gotta hand it to [Bishop]. He stood tall and he’s a big boy,” Senators defenceman Marc Methot told reporters. “He saved us a lot out there.”
Bishop, 26, posted his third win in row since Anderson exited a 3-2 shootout win over the New York Rangers on Feb. 21 with a sprained ankle, and boasts a 4-2 record, 2.17 goals-against average and .935 save percentage in six games this season.
Los Angeles’ Jonathan Bernier, Chicago’s Ray Emery, Anaheim’s Viktor Fasth, Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo and Toronto’s Ben Scrivens are other backup netminders who have had strong starts and are featured in the gallery above.