Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop felt no love from the U.S. Olympic selection committee.
He deserved a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. Bishop hammered this point home Wednesday by leading Tampa Bay to still another victory, 4-2 at Vancouver.
He is 21-5-3 this season with a 1.89 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage. He has allowed two goals or fewer in seven consecutive starts.
Bishop is keeping the Lightning alive in the absence of cornerstone center Steven Stamkos, who is sidelined with a broken leg.
And yet he won’t go to Sochi, since the U.S. Olympic team picked Ryan Miller, Jonathan Quick and Jimmy Howard instead.
Bishop also excelled for Tampa Bay last season after arriving in a trade from Ottawa, but his prior work in the World Championships wasn’t as strong.
“We did not pick the 25 best players,” U.S. general manager David Poile said. “We picked the 25 players we thought gave us a chance to win the gold medal.”
Well, we’ll see about that. Quick is coming back from a groin muscle strain and hasn’t played in weeks. When healthy, he was the third-best goaltender on the Los Angles Kings this season.
Howard also spent weeks on injured reserve. He, too, has struggled mightily this season. He has lost both starts since returning to active duty. Howard hasn’t won a game since Nov. 29.
Miller was an obvious choice. He has been a stalwart in international play and he appears to be on top of his game.
In the “walk” year of his contract in Buffalo, Miller appears determined to build his trade stock for the Sabres and his earning power for his next deal.
Quick’s past playoff heroics make him an obvious candidate, assuming he comes back from his injury and plays much better than he did during the season’s first quarter.
But picking Howard over Bishop or Devils goaltender Corey Schneider proves that performance this season means nothing to the selection process. This was all about reputation.
By all accounts, Bishop had no real chance to make this team. Schneider was the odd man out.
So why did Team USA wait so long to announce the roster? Why did it spend a fortune flying its scouts around the NHL to watch games?