The story of Monday morning was the mystery of the condition of Ben Bishop, who left game2 suddenly in the 3rd. Nothing was made clear after morning skate in an almost comical way. It became a question if it was mind games being played by head coach Jon Cooper when Bishop was seen in fine and ready form Sunday afternoon at United Center in Chicago. The confusion of the moment was furthered on the way to United Center from the team hotel when goalie prospect and black ace Kristers Gudlevskis joined the team bus for its ride to the arena.
What was real, tangible, unable to be deceived was Chicago's 1st period goal. What was also clear was their failure with the rest of their collective 1st period onslaught on the Lightning netminder. 19 total shots were blazed in the direction of #30 and that lone tally was what made it in. That lone goal, a power play tally by former Lightning center Brad Richards, only tied the game...
It was a charade, it must have been, and the whole situation with Ben Bishop had been fake, right? Perhaps, perhaps you can chalk up his leg stretches in the 2nd and issues he had moving laterally up there with deliberate deception... in a Stanley Cup Final game? It hadn't been pronounced until the 2nd period, and it grabbed everyone's attention.
I could go throw every save, I could characterize every situation where I cringed in worry and horror as other fans might have. I could give you a long verse on Brandon Saad's goalie interference that knocked Bishop real good and Ben was extremely slow to get up, having a Lightning medical assistant join him on ice... but that gets away from what tonight was.
Tonight was that little catch phrase that the NHL used real good during the Double-O's: History was made.
That turn of phrase is not always meant to represent the epic goals that grab our attention or other statistical feats of record breaking, it's sometimes players or teams overcoming... Or just the buildup of a story leading up to and playing out during a game. Ben Bishop, who left game 2 suddenly, who played injured (or did he?) during game 3, made 36 saves on 38 shots. The team in front of him did their part to outscore Chicago and ultimately get the win and put the Lightning so close to history on so many different levels. So close but so far away.
It's history for the story books, it's history for the Lightning... Not exactly a fuzzy fax moment; it had a much more positive ending tonight.
What really are facts, what is fiction, what is reality and what is truth about Ben Bishop's status and health in games 2 and 3 won't come to light for some time - that's the art of gamesmanship that's being played by the Lightning against the Blackhawks and which is a common part of this sport, especially in the playoffs. What is in the light, though, and what matters tonight is the Lightning won 3-2. The Bolts are now up on the best-of-seven series, 2 games to 1.