Will Jimmy Howard's injury finally get Lightning goalie Ben Bishop onto the Team USA roster?

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Opportunity may be forthcoming for Ben Bishop, if USA Hockey decides to take a flyer out on a goaltender having a stellar season.

Ben Bishop sprained his wrist in Edmonton on January 5th.  He's been back in action for a week now, and his feat of perserverence was last weekend's performance: back-to-back, consecutive game starts with 83 shots faced and 75 saves made.  That was yet another epic effort by the Lightning's netminder.

The entire season is an epic effort by Bishop: 36 appearances, a 24-6-4 record, 4 shutouts, a .935 save percentage, an 1.93 goals-against average and two assists to his name.

All of that, and a 2014 US Olympic Team snub for men's ice hockey.  That narrative, as well as the snub of teammate and team captain Martin St. Louis for Team Canada, has lingered around the Lightning since Team USA was named on New Year's Day in Detroit.

But hold the phone, ladies and gentlemen.  Sochi could still be in Bishop's immediate future.  Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, penciled in as third on the Team USA depth chart behind Jonathan Quick and Ryan Miller, seems to have re-injured his knee that had previously sidelined him this season for the Wings.  Besides being a blow to a divisional foe, this becomes a complication for the United States depth chart... and possibly an opportunity for the Lightning's #1 netminder.

There's no guarantee Howard doesn't go to Sochi, there's also no guarantee Ben Bishop gets slotted to replace Howard if he does opt out of participating in the Olympics or just can't go.  USA Hockey brass might just not like Bishop's style, or take issue with the netminder personally. While that sounds rather silly, you need to remember that Team USA president Brian Burke took it upon himself to brow-beat snubbed forward Bobby Ryan in the press.  As far as we know, Burke or Team USA GM Dave Poile have the same contempt toward Ben Bishop. Maybe, maybe not.

There's also the chance Ben wants time to healhis own bumps and bruises from this season, so he may opt out if approached to play for Team USA.

The Olympic break will take place in early February and all NHL activity will be idled so players selected off NHL franchises may participate and represent their home countries in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.  The Tampa Bay Lightning have seven players from their organization currently tabbed to play for their home countries.

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