Vasilevskiy Returning to Form for the Lightning

Photo by Scott Audette /NHLI via Getty Images
Photo by Scott Audette /NHLI via Getty Images

The beginning of the 2023-24 season was not a good one for Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Vasilevskiy, 29, missed the first 20 games of the season while recovering from surgery to repair a herniated disc in his lower back. To make matters worse, the Lightning did not play well while Vasilevskiy was hurt.

The team lost a lot of games, did not look like themselves, and looked like a team that might end up missing the Stanley Cup playoffs. It was also not good that when Vasilevskiy returned from his injury, he did not play well.

When he came back, Vasilevskiy looked a bit lost between the pipes, He was allowing a lot of goals, giving up a bunch of soft goals, and he did not look like himself.

Luckily for the Lightning, things have changed for both the team and their goaltender. As of this writing (Sunday, April 7), the team has clinched a spot for the postseason and is currently in the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference with a 43-27-7 record for 93 points.

While Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov is getting all the attention due to the unbelievable season he is having (136 points on 43 goals and 93 assists), Vasilevskiy deserves some credit for finding his game at the right time.

For starters, he is back to winning a lot of games. Vasilevskiy is currently 29-18-0-2 with a 2.87 goals-against average, a .900 save percentage, and two shutouts.

Vasilevskiy’s next win will give him his seventh consecutive 30-win season. That is pretty amazing because he missed six weeks at the beginning of the season after undergoing back surgery.

According to Carol Schram of The Hockey News, if Vasilevskiy gets to 30 wins, will “join six others, including the likes of Ken Dryden, Henrik Lundqvist, and Ryan Miller, in a tie for the third-most consecutive 30-win seasons for a goalie“. Those are great names to be associated with, eh?

Secondly, Vasilevskiy has played extremely well over his last several starts. Just take a look at what he has done in his last five starts:

Yes, his most recent loss against the Pittsburgh Penguins was a clunker. With that said, in every game except one, he posted a save percentage of .903 or better.

Lastly, Vasilevskiy is back to making big saves for his hockey club. He made several of them in his team’s big 4-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs back on April 3 where if he did not, the Leafs could have gotten themselves right back into the game.

The Lightning may have taken a while to get there this season, but they look like Cup contenders at the most important time of the year. With Vasilevskiy back to being himself and looking as sharp as ever, winning the Cup for the third time in the last five seasons is not as far-fetched as it once seemed.

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
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Patrick Hoffman

Patrick covers the NHL for Inside The Rink. He has previously covered the league for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave, WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.

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