It was the height of irony, and we mean height. Wednesday afternoon, former Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher spoke publicly for the first time since he was fired by Bolts GM Steve Yzerman. Oh, and about 15 minutes before that, the Lightning announced that they'd traded for … a goaltender. It's Ben Bishop, who came from Ottawa just before the trade deadline, though at a hefty price: Lightning rookie playmaker Cory Conacher. If you're Boucher, you had to be thinking, “Ah, now the goalies aren't good enough.”
I like the deal, but it had better work. The Lightning need the help if Anders Lindback's inconsistency is any indication, and it is. Bishop kept the Senators winning even after No. 1 Craig Anderson, the best goalie in the NHL this season, at least statistically, went down with an injury. Bishop owns a 2.45 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage. That beats Lindback's 2.88 and .903, which helped seal Boucher's fate. And there's the towering trivia of it all. The Lightning now have the highest goaltending tandem in NHL history as the 6-foot-7 Bishop (the tallest man ever to play goal in an NHL) joins the 6-6 Lindback, two tape-measure jobs. The Bolts now possess 13 feet, 1 inch of goalies. Right now this team would take a 4-foot guy hopping out of a circus car if he could play between the pipes. The long and short of it is that Yzerman, who has made his mistakes, is basically admitting that the goalie he brought in hasn't been up to speed — enough to trade Conacher, the second-leading rookie scorer in the league when he wasn't falling down, though not enough to give Boucher a pass. The new coach, Jon Cooper, gets the help. Yzerman has entirely mixed reviews when it comes to goaltender. Dan Ellis was his guy, but, no go, at least here, then Dwayne Roloson rode to the rescue in his Fountain of Youth pumpkin carriage. Then Roloson bombed last season, you know, after Mike Smith had opted to go to Phoenix, where he flourished. Then came Lindback, and so on and so on. A lot of times, goalies are where GM's jobs go to die. Still, I like Bishop. It's a great deal if he can be the guy. Lindback is a great deal if he turns out to be the guy. But one of these guys better be the guy. I know Redwoods don't yield fruit, but these two better or this organization will be deep in the forest. The Lightning could have grabbed Bishop for less last offseason. They picked up Lindback. Now they have both, with Yzerman giving up Conacher, two second-round picks, a third-round pick and a fourth-round pick — all for two goaltenders who have a combined 95 games of NHL experience. Then again, Bishop, 26, is two years older than Lindback. That should count for something, growth wise. On the other hand, in Bishop's first game this season, he allowed five goals on 30 shots in a loss against … the Lightning. Yes, Wednesday was an open skating session for irony. It's not about this season, no matter what Cooper says. You can't be serious about the playoffs when you can't win at home against Florida. No, this is about speeding up the future. It's a great deal if Ben Bishop does that. Or if anyone else does. Once again, this team needs a stopper. Lightning history teaches us that finding one is usually a very tall order.