The last time Ben Bishop participated in the NHL competition was on August 31, 2020. That was 465 days ago.
At that time, Bishop had missed the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup playoff bubble, so it was a bit shocked. He played for a season and then scored four goals in a row. Anton Kudobin was asked to resume his responsibilities as a goalkeeper-eventually, bringing Dallas to the Stanley Cup final.
Bishop had just returned from knee surgery, but he looked uncomfortable at the time. He played two other playoff games that year and lost all games. The star team hopes that Bishop will undergo knee surgery during the COVID-19 suspension, which will give him time to lead Dallas in the long playoffs. But on the contrary, it started a challenging role for one of the best goalkeepers in the NHL at the time.
Therefore, as Bishop prepares to start training with the Texas Stars on Thursday, Bishop finally makes his long-awaited hockey return. It is not expected to take that long: after the first operation, it was announced that Bishop would be absent for five months due to a meniscus tear in his right knee, but he had never been on ice.
For a 6-foot-7, 35-year-old goalkeeper, it will be a challenge to return to any place near his past game day. But Bishop has the ability to complete it. He told reporters earlier this week, “I think my goalkeeper skills are more acute now than they were back then.”
Is it realistic to expect him to return to the state that has made him a candidate for Vezina in the past five years? His age suggests no, and his surgery will definitely reduce this possibility.
When healthy, Bishop is one of the best goalkeepers in the world. The three-time Vezina Trophy finalist is always the leader with a higher winning percentage among goalkeepers than the bench. Although he has some excellent talents in Dallas and Tampa Bay, Bishop is no stranger to stealing victories.
But when he finally returns, will he even get close to that? This is the challenge.
But if he is prepared as he suggested, maybe the team can make things go smoothly. Bishop will finally be called to join the crowded team, Anton Khudobin, Braden Holtby and Jake Oettinger are already present. Khudobin has been struggling and is likely to be transported away, while Holtby continues to have a positive impact on the club. Ottinger has always been very good and is part of Dallas’ future, but he is exempt and can easily be sent away.
The Stars have always been patient with him, and Bishop’s last two years are a bit of a mystery. But if the team and Bishop think it’s time for him to return to the AHL game, they must think he has gone too far.
This should be exciting for the Dallas Stars. Hey, he has a rest! The Stars currently rank sixth in the Central Division, but are only two points behind Colorado. This is a very stressful game. If Bishop can come in and start closing in the near future, the star team may look forward to another playoff game after completely missing the playoffs last year.
The training period can last up to three games before the star team needs to reassess how they will handle Bishop. Maybe he is not fully prepared yet and needs extra time to heal. Or maybe he will roar away because of all the rest time. Letting him take action in Thursday’s game against the Chicago Wolves is a good start to understand the current situation of Bishop’s game, and is expected to successfully return to the game after years of pain.