Ben Bishop has been knocked (mostly by me here and a few other goaltending analysts around the league) for his struggles with accurate tracking, which make him a risky goalie when it comes to playing the puck and coming out of the crease mid-play.
This decision making early in the first period of game five, though, put a whole new spin on questionable decision-making for the Tampa Bay starter.
Bold defensive strategy, Cotton. pic.twitter.com/iQCGixeLgy
— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) June 14, 2015
Bishop chose to leave the net — then the crease, then the faceoff circle just to the right of his normal home during the game — in order to inexplicably attempt to play the puck following a whiffed shot by Tampa Bay blue liner Victor Hedman.
Clearly, it didn’t work in his favor.
While Bishop was busy trying to disentangle himself from Hedman’s feet, Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp was able to calmly collect the puck and deposit it in the wide-open empty net Bishop had left behind. This pulled the Chicago Blackhawks up 1-0 heading down the stretch in the first frame of the game.
For those that are either Blackhawks fans or very masochistic Tampa Bay supporters, here’s the actual goal, for your viewing pleasure:
There’s always speculation about a team’s ability to use ‘playoff experience’ to obtain leads in games like these, where the two teams are clearly both extremely talented and likely to walk away from games with hefty wins. This could be seen as one of those moments — had Blackhawks netminder Corey Crawford not tried to do pretty much the same thing, only crashing into Tampa Bay forward Nikita Kucherov instead. This was just the luck of the draw for one of the two extremely active (to the point of being heart-stopping and somewhat ineffective) netminders dueling it out in the Stanley Cup Final.
Heading into the final few minutes of the first period, the Blackhawks maintained a 1-0 lead.