Andrei Vasilevskiy Set To Return To Practice Next Week


Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy has been cleared to get off of the blood thinners, and could return to practice next week.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy has been relegated to the sidelines since September 4th when it was announced that the Lightning netminder would be forced to miss 2-3 months after undergoing successful vascular surgery to remove a blood clot found near his collarbone. Thankfully, his recovery is going as planned and it won’t be too long before he is back out on the ice with the team.

According to Tampa Bay Times Staff Writer Joe Smith, Vasilevskiy had an appointment with Dr. Karl Illig, the surgeon who initially treated him, and the Russian netminder was able to be removed from the Blood Thinners he had been prescribed since his surgery. In even bigger news, on Wednesday Vasilevskiy was given the all-clear to return to the ice with his teammates early next week.

It is expected Vasilevskiy will return to practice with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday when the team heads to the Scottrade Center to prepare to face off with captain David Backes and the St. Louis Blues. Unfortunately, his return to the ice on game day may take a little bit longer. After being off the ice for as extended a period of time as Vasilevskiy has, it will require a little conditioning before he is ready.

The good news is, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, has a couple of games scheduled right around the same time. The Crunch will be in Toronto on Wednesday, October 28th to face off with the Toronto Marlies. On Friday, October 30th the Crunch head home to the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse to face off with the Hershey Bears.

As most of you know by now, the Tampa Bay Lightning claimed goaltender Kevin Poulin off waivers on September 28th, right before the start of the regular season, to serve as backup for Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop. The irony of this whole situation is that Poulin has yet to take the ice in a game day setting.

It is unknown at this point whether Poulin will have an opportunity to take the ice over the course of the next couple of games. So far, Bishop has held it down between the pipes in each of the seven games the Tampa Bay Lightning has played so far this season, including a back-to-back series on October 12-13th.

The Tampa Bay Lightning has another back-to-back series on the schedule coming up rather quickly. The Bolts will head to the MTS Centre on Friday to face off with captain Andrew Ladd and the Winnipeg Jets. From there, it is off to Chicago for a Stanley Cup Finals rematch against captain Jonathan Toews and the Chicago Blackhawks.

One could safely assume if Poulin was to get in a game before Vasilevskiy’s return, it would be against the Jets on Friday night. We will have to wait and see how everything plays out and what decision Tampa Bay Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper makes when game day arrives. If ever there was a day when we would want a goaltender like Bishop in net, it will be in Chicago on Saturday.

At the same time, there is always the chance Cooper will elect to continue to play Bishop until Vasilevskiy is ready to make his return to the ice. The only part of this that concerns us is the stress it places on a goaltender when they are made the only option on game day. While Bishop is a professional athlete capable of carrying a heavy load, it is certainly a lot of pressure to be the only option on the ice. In other words, even the most elite goaltenders can use a break every now and then.

The good news is, Tampa Bay Lightning fans don’t have long to wait to see Andrei Vasilevskiy on the ice once again. Hopefully, we’ll know a little more as Monday approaches. Until then, at least we know Vasilevskiy is making significant strides to making his return to the ice.

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