Why it's a good thing Vasilevskiy hasn't been spectacular for Lightning

By Diana C. Nearhos, Tampa Bay Times on

Published in Hockey

Andrei Vasilevskiy stood in locker room A at Amalie Arena last April and used a word his teammates hadn't: the singular first-person pronoun, "I."

Just about everyone on the Lightning said some version of "we needed to be better" after they were swept by Columbus in the first round of the playoffs.

"I have to do better," Vasilevskiy said three different ways in the wake of that historic disappointment.

It took more than a year for the star goalie to get another chance - and in that time he was awarded the Vezina Trophy, signed a contract worth nearly $10 million a year and was nominated for another goalie of the year award.

Once the Lightning finally made it back to the playoffs, he's done what he said: Vasilevskiy has been better.

"I meant that I have to stop the puck more, do a little bit more than last year," he said this week. "So far, I've done it We'll see."


Vasilevskiy said it felt good for the Lightning to secure their spot in the conference final - returning for the fourth time in six years - "especially after last year. We kind of screwed it up."

As the Lightning have advanced through the NHL's bubble tournament, Vasilevskiy has been their stalwart in net. Of those that made it to the second round, he's the only goalie to play every game for his team.

The Lightning's conference final opponent, the Islanders, used a tandem of Semyon Varlamov and Thomas Greiss all season. Varlamov has played most of the playoffs, but Greiss took over after a bad first period in Game 2 last round and played the latter game of both back-to-backs.

The Stars also used a tandem in the regular season. But with Ben Bishop unavailable most of the playoffs, they've been going with Anton Khudobin. Vegas has used both Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner, recently riding out the hot hand in Lehner.


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