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Dallas Stars Season Grades: Ben Bishop

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Bishop to B5. Checkmate.

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

When the Dallas Stars won the Western Conference regular season title in 2016, many of their skeptics pointed towards their goaltending tandem of Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi as the reason they still weren’t true Stanley Cup contenders. Even after an embarrassing Game 7 blowout loss to the St. Louis Blues in the second round, the Stars kept their same goalies heading into the 2016-2017 season, who led them to an underwhelming seventh worst record in the NHL.

This time, however, Stars General Manager Jim Nill wouldn’t make the same mistake. Nill traded a 2017 fourth round pick to the Los Angeles Kings for the rights to pending UFA Ben Bishop — a former Vezina Trophy finalist and Eastern Conference champion. Dallas quickly signed Bishop to a six-year $29.5M contract, confident they had finally found their goalie to push them up into Cup contender status.

Bishop ended up starting 51 out of 53 games played this year, and posted a 26-17-5 record. He recorded a .916% save percentage with a 2.49 GAA. That isn’t exactly great — it’s more or less the median out of various NHL goalies — but it marked a huge improvement over the past several years. Bishop also recorded five different shutouts throughout the year; only Pekka Rinne, Andrei Vasilevskiy, and Connor Hellebuyck recorded more (incidentally, those three are also this year’s Vezina finalists).

Stats don’t always tell the whole story though; it was clear throughout the year that the Stars looked like a different team when Bishop was in net. They seemed more confident, as if they knew mistakes were okay since Bishop was there to bail them out if need be. And after looking at some of his saves, can you really blame them?

Unfortunately, Bishop’s season was cut short; the goalie was injured on March 5 in a game against the Ottawa Senators. He only played in one full game the rest of the year, and the Stars spiraled out of a playoff spot before the season ended. I argued why Bishop’s injury wasn’t the cause of the eight-game losing streak back in March, and Bishop was even in net for one of those losses, but it’s hard not to imagine what could have been.

I’ll finish off with the same note I made in Kari Lehtonen’s player grade: Lehtonen ended the season with a 15-14-3 record over 37 games played, sporting a .912% SV% and a 2.56 GAA. That isn’t that much worse than Bishop’s final stats, and Lehtonen was also the goalie when the Stars were playing their worst hockey of the season. Before Bishop’s injuries, Lehtonen’s numbers were actually better — he sported an 11-4 record over 17 games with a .9.19% SV%.

So was Bishop as good as advertised? Or was he just a sight for sore eyes after years of low-quality goaltending? What do you think?

Poll

Grade Ben Bishop’s 2017-2018 Season

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    A - We would still be in the playoffs today if he hadn’t gotten injured.
    (62 votes)
  • 58%
    B - Feel good knowing he’ll be in net again next season.
    (275 votes)
  • 24%
    C - Average stats for an average goaltender.
    (114 votes)
  • 1%
    D - He just looked good because our defense was finally not horrible.
    (9 votes)
  • 1%
    F - Five. More. Years.
    (9 votes)
469 votes total Vote Now