Zielinski's pick: Lightning MVP
Lightning fans are making their choices for their Fan's Choices Awards now through May 19th. Bolts Beat Reporter Missy Zielinski chimes in with her choice for each of the awards.
Here's her selection for MVP:
Before the 2013-14 season the Tampa Bay Lightning were still unsure who would man the crease as its starter, but the league’s tallest goaltender, Ben Bishop, wasted no time showing the coaching staff, team and fans that he could fit the bill by posting a career-best 5-0-0 record to start the year. Since Bishop has emerged as not only one of the Lightning’s best goalies in franchise history to date, but one of the tops in the NHL and a Vezina Trophy finalist. Bishop single-handedly kept the Bolts in the 2014 postseason conversation, despite key injuries to their lineup and is often credited by head coach Jon Cooper as making the saves he should, but more importantly making many of the ones he shouldn’t. Setting new Lightning single-season records for wins in a season (37), save percentage (.924) and goals-against average (2.23), Bishop also finished the year ranked fourth in the NHL for wins and shutouts (five) and within the Top 10 for both goals-against average and save percentage.
Ondrej Palat – Forward Ondrej Palat’s emergence as one of the top rookies in the NHL came as a pleasant surprise to the Bolts, who drafted the left winger in the seventh round (208th overall) of the 2011 entry draft. Filling in on the top line with Marty St. Louis while Steven Stamkos was injured, Palat’s performance skyrocketed and he continued to play at an elevated level long after the departure of St. Louis. Palat led all rookies with 44 points since January 1 and was also named the NHL’s Rookie of the Month in both January and March, the only rookie to earn the honor twice this season.