SPORTS

Blackhawks shrug off uncertainty of Lightning's goaltending situation

06/13/2015 03:26 EDT | Updated 06/13/2016 05:59 EDT
TAMPA, Fla. - Curiosity is human nature in the middle of a mystery. When it comes to the Tampa Bay Lightning's goaltending drama, Patrick Kane insists he's not curious enough to look at the other end of the ice in pre-game warmups.

It wasn't until Andrei Vasilevskiy led the Lightning onto the ice for Game 4 that anyone outside the team knew he was starting over the injured Ben Bishop, who was nowhere to be found. The Stanley Cup final is not the time for sharing secrets, but the Chicago Blackhawks said they don't care.

For Kane, it's a matter of adjusting and preparing after warmups. By that time the mind games are over.

"It doesn't really change too much," Kane said Saturday. "We know they'll probably make the better option for what's better for their team. We don't tend to worry about that too much. Both goalies we pretty much have the same game plan against."

This is the first Cup final since 2007 in which one team started two different goaltenders. That year the Edmonton Oilers lost Dwayne Roloson to a knee injury in Game 1, turned to Ty Conklin in relief but started Jussi Markkanen the rest of the way in losing to the Carolina Hurricanes.

That series lacked this drama. Roloson was done and the decision was made to go to Markkanen. This time, the Lightning aren't saying, with Bishop noting "there's progress being made" and Vasilevskiy confirming he's ready to go.

Down the hall in the visiting locker-room, the Blackhawks shrug it off.

"Both goalies are great," forward Andrew Shaw said. "They're both going to stand on their head, they both can play and make big saves. They're both good at handling the puck. No matter who we're playing against, we expect good goaltending."

Bishop has a North American experience edge, but Vasilevskiy came with plenty in the KHL playoffs. The 20-year-old Russian said he thinks the KHL has a slightly tougher post-season schedule.

"Any series you play back-to-back, day off, back-to-back again," he said Friday. "Any series. It's non-stop games. Right now I can play a lot of games for short time and that's (what I learned) from KHL playoffs."

Bishop is a better, more confident puck-handler than Vasilevskiy, but Blackhawks forward Andrew Desjardins said that doesn't affect how they attack the zone and put pucks into corners.

Desjardins said there was preparation done before the series on Bishop and Vasilevskiy. Many of his teammates don't care much about that.

"I don't really do too much homework on goaltenders, to be honest with you," said Chicago forward Patrick Sharp. "I focus on getting it to the net and shooting where I see open net."

Shaw knows it's a "clear giveaway" who leads the Lightning onto the ice for warmups. Coach Joel Quenneville said he and the Blackhawks "can't control" who starts, so there's no sense worrying about it.

As Quenneville and his staff take a peek across the ice, players want to focus on their jobs.

"I'm worried about warming myself up," Kane said. "Whoever's in net is probably a better option for them."

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