When it was announced that Andrei Vasilevskiy would miss the first two months of the season due to back surgery, some feared the worst for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Thankfully, Jonas Johansson has been a capable caretaker of the net while the Big Cat recovers.
But as capable as Johansson has been for the first month, he’s not The Big Cat and for Tampa to achieve its goals this season it is going to need a healthy Vasilevskiy to get them there. And the good news is that his rehab seems to be going according to plan.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Big Cat on the ice
At most practices, there isn’t much to talk about. Dudes skate, random line combinations are tried out, and players give their thoughts about their upcoming opponent.
But at practice yesterday, there was an unexpected visitor that took to the ice.
For someone who had back surgery a month ago, Vasilevskiy looked solid going through the motions there.
"“It’s great to have him out there, but again, it’s not speeding up his recovery. It’s just now he’s with our team a lot more, which is the best part because he’s actually a great guy to be around. But it hasn’t changed, and it’s not that he’s coming back any quicker. We wish it could happen, but it’s just great to have him around, though.”"
The indication from the Lightning is that Vasilevskiy should be ready sometime around Thanksgiving.
So if Tampa can maintain a playoff position without Vassy, it should feel confident about the rest of its campaign once he returns.