Ben Bishop leaves Lightning game with injury; will he be available for playoffs?

TAMPA, FL - APRIL 8: Goalie Ben Bishop #30 of the Tampa Bay Lightning is helped off the ice by teammate Eric Brewer #2 and head athletic trainer Tom Mulligan after sustaining an upper body injury during the first period against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on April 8, 2014 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

There are a number of reasons for the Tampa Bay Lightning's turnaround this season. The emergence of their young players. The continued development of Victor Hedman. The sterling work of coach Jon Cooper. But arguably the biggest reason, both in terms of impact and height, has to be goaltender Ben Bishop, who's put in a Vezina-quality season for the Bolts. It's hard to say where this team would be without him.

We may soon find out, unfortunately to say. Late in the first period of their match with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Bishop was forced to leave the game with an apparent wrist injury:

In an attempt to snag a loose puck, Bishop appeared to get his legs tangled up, and wound up crashing to the ice, landing on his left wrist.

Anders Lindback took over for Bishop.

That's a concerning area for the Lightning's starter to injure, because it wouldn't be the first time this season he's done so. Bishop first injured his wrist in a practice on January 5, then reaggravated the injury in a game versus the Oilers later that night, leaving about five minutes into the first.

Fortunately, the injury was a sprain, not a break, and Bishop missed just over a week. Considering the playoffs are about that far away, the Lightning have to be hoping his injury is no worse than that. Considering how valuable he's been to the Lightning in making the playoffs, it's hard to see how they survive even one round without him.

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