Ben Bishop did not have a good time in net last night during Game 3 in Dallas.
The Dallas Stars goaltender allowed two very questionable goals in the 3-2 loss to the Nashville Predators. The second of the goals allowed was especially deflating, as it came only a few minutes after Tyler Seguin had tied the game up in the third period. That goal seemed to suck the life out of the Stars, who are now down 2-1 in the series.
Many people are going to blame Bishop for this loss. It’s fair to wonder if head coach Jim Montgomery should turn to Anton Khudobin — who has been fantastic against Nashville this season — for Game 4 on Wednesday.
But if fans really want to point fingers at the cause for the Stars’ loss, don’t point at Bishop. Instead, direct your attention to the Stars’ struggling offense.
Yes, Pekka Rinne was incredible last night, stopping 40 of 42 shots. You certainly can’t blame the Stars for a lack of trying, but you can blame them for a lack of execution. Dallas went 0-4 on the power play, including 90 seconds of 5-on-3 that they failed to convert on. This came after a 0-6 performance on Saturday, which included a four-minute power play that similarly went nowhere.
And by the way, Bishop also stopped 40 of 42 shots that night, and 30 of 32 the night before that. He and Khudobin are the only reasons the Stars are even in the playoffs to begin with, largely due to Bishop’s spectacular play these past few months:
That’s the first time since February 4th Ben Bishop has allowed 3 or more goals against in a game.— DefendingBigD (@DefendingBigD) April 16, 2019
Of course, past performances don’t change the fact that last night, Bishop had a bad game. If he had stopped one or both of those “soft” goals, Dallas might have walked away with a win. Yet at the same time, the Stars only scored two goals. If the Stars’ winning game plan requires their goaltender to allow just a single goal, they have bigger problems to worry about than their goaltender.
In three games so far, the Stars have gotten goals from the following players — Miro Heiskanen, Alexander Radulov, Mats Zuccarello, Jamie Benn, and Tyler Seguin. Add in John Klingberg’s two assists, and the only other player who even has a point is Ben Lovejoy. Meanwhile, Nashville’s leading scorer is Rocco Grimaldi — who had only 10 goals in five seasons prior to this series (yes, you read that right) — while Craig Smith scored the overtime winner on Saturday.
The Stars’ top offensive players are the only ones getting the puck past Rinne. And those same top players — minus Heiskanen — have failed to score on the power play despite having 13 chances across three games. If Dallas gets a goal on the 5-on-3 in the second period, then we’re looking at a whole different hockey game.
Jim Montgomery: "You know what, I don’t know if we’re playing if it’s not for our goalies and especially Ben. Our players got to pick him up for how many times he’s picked us up, right?"— Matthew DeFranks (@MDeFranks) April 16, 2019
So yes, Bishop had a bad night. He was one of the reasons the Stars lost, no doubt about it. But he wasn’t the reason they lost. If you want to direct your frustration anywhere this postseason, turn to the 29th-ranked offense, not the Vezina-caliber goaltender who brought Dallas playoff hockey in the first place.