I don't claim to be a person who can predict the future.
Take for example, the Emmys. I was certain that Bob Odenkirk would win for "Better Call Saul." I thought it would be a shoo-in. But then, he lost to Jon Hamm of "Mad Men." I guess if you are going to lose, why not lose to Don Draper, right?
But for this upcoming NHL season, I have a hunch. Something in my gut. The Jiminy Cricket inside my noggin says that Ben Bishop will be one of the favorites to win the Vezina Trophy.
Last season, Bishop had an amazing performance for Tampa Bay, going 40-13-5 with a .916 saves percentage, and a 2.23 goals against average. Any other year, that would get you the Vezina, but last season, Carey Price, who I think is the lovechild of Patrick Roy and Wonder Woman, decided he was going to be Tony Stark, and be Iron Man all year long en route to a Hart, a Jennings, and a Vezina.
This year, Ben Bishop needs to become Iron Monger.
ESPN recently released their picks for Vezina Trophy candidates and it read like this.
ESPN-2016 Vezina Trophy Tracker
1. Carey Price-Montreal Canadiens
2. Martin Jones-San Jose Sharks
3. Ryan Miller-Vancouver Canucks
4. Jonathan Bernier-Toronto Maple Leafs
5. Henrik Lundqvist-New York Rangers
I totally get that ESPN would pick those 5 as their choices, but why is Ben Bishop getting the Susan Lucci treatment here? Do people just assume that since he has Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson and Victor Hedman on his team, that he will just be the happy sidekick that will ride the team's coattails? I don't think so. I think Bishop should read ESPN's rankings, use it as motivation, and go out and Ivan Drago every potential scorer in the National Hockey League.
Easier said than done right?
In comparison to Tampa Bay's other famous goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, there are similarities and differences. Both guys have/had about 2 true defensemen that can/could protect them from the puck, but that's about it. The 2003-04 Lightning had Dan Boyle and Pavel Kubina. The current Lightning have Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman. The difference in the two is that Bishop has more size. Khabibulin was 6'1" and 200 pounds, while Bishop is 6'7" and 215. Bishop looks more intimidating to forwards and can block the puck better just by his mere size.
In other words, Bishop is Andre the Giant.
Since he has no real backup help until Andrei Vasilevskiy comes back, Bishop will be carrying a heavy load for this Lightning team. It will be imperative for Jon Cooper to make sure that Bishop isn't getting shallacked by the likes of Sidney Crosby, John Tavares, Alex Ovechkin and Pavel Datsyuk, and to make sure the blue line does everything in their power to combat that.
Do you think Ben Bishop can win the Vezina in 2016? Or is he just a nice goaltender that can give his team solid performances? I think that he is definitely in the Vezina discussion, and can help Tampa Bay win the Stanley Cup in 2016.
Hopefully, he won't be Susan Lucci-ed again.
Give me your thoughts on here, or on my Twitter page at @Hockey_JakeRyan. I would definitely appreciate the feedback!