Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy hasn’t been the picture of perfection this season, but that’s perfectly ok with the Bolts Nation.
When the Tampa Bay Lightning kicked off their 25th Anniversary Season there were some pretty high expectations for their new No. 1 goaltender, Andrei Vasilevskiy. After taking the reins from goaltender Ben Bishop the season before, this would be his first full season in the driver’s seat.
There were many in the Bolts Nation, ourselves included, who were unsure as to whether or not Vasilevskiy was truly ready to take the helm and lead the Lightning to success. This was mainly due to two things; the Bolts Nation’s loyalty and adoration for Bishop as well as some of the shaky starts Vasy had prior to the Bishop trade.
Thankfully, as the season has progressed, Andrei Vasilevskiy has exceeded everyone’s expectations by leaps and bounds and has essentially backstopped the Lightning to the very top of the National Hockey League, where they have remained for a majority of the season.
Does this mean Vasilevskiy has had a perfect season? Of course not; there would be no such thing as good games without a fair share of bad ones. One of the least successful games he’s played this season came on October 30 as the Lightning took on their in-state rivals, the Florida Panthers.
Vasilevskiy would allow a total of five goals from the Panthers that night. This would give Vasilevskiy a Save Percentage of .783. As anyone who knows anything about hockey statistics knows, this is far from good. Thankfully, this is also far from the norm for Vasilevskiy.
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If you check out the goaltending statistics around the league this season, you will find Andrei Vasilevskiy’s name at the top, or near the top, of every category. The most important of the aforementioned categories is wins. Vasilevskiy leads the NHL in wins right now with 24. Vasy’s closest competition would be Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals with 21.
Andrei Vasilevskiy also leads the NHL in Shutouts with four. This is an honor he shares with Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. There are quite a few netminders on their heels with three shutouts each. As any hockey fan knows, statistics can change in the blink of an eye.
The 23-year-old Lightning goaltender has his name high on the list in two other goaltending categories. Vasilevskiy has a Goals Allowed Average of 2.09 and a Save Percentage of .934. These numbers earn Vasy the No. 2 spot in the league in both categories.
Anytime a goaltender can keep their Goals Allowed Average around the 2.00 mark, they are having a good season. Through the good times and the bad, Vasy has done a solid job of maintaining his standing.
Any goaltender, elite or otherwise, has their share of weaknesses. One of Vasilevskiy’s weaknesses is his five-hole. Vasy has incredible speed and an innate ability to track the puck through the zone, but he still has a hard time closing his five-hole from time to time. Hopefully, this is something which will correct itself with experience.
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So, is Andrei Vasilevskiy the perfect goaltender? No…there is honestly no such thing. However, Vasilevskiy is the perfect goaltender for the Tampa Bay Lightning right now. He may be young, but he can hang with some of the best veteran goaltenders in the league, and that says a whole lot.