The return of Andrei Vasilevsky after lower back surgery was one of the most anticipated events of the new season of the National Hockey League. First of all, for all Tampa Bay Lightning fans. The Lightning entered the championship very uncertainly and very abruptly went into the company of the most losing teams in the league. Unsuccessful results immediately showed the impact Vasilevsky has on the team’s play, and therefore with his return, an improvement in the Lightning’s position was predicted.
However, not everything you want comes instantly. In Andrei's first four matches of the season, Tampa suffered three defeats, and the Russian himself conceded a total of 12 goals. The most painful was the fiasco in the match with the Dallas Stars, which took place just a few days ago. The Lightning in Texas were literally spread across the court and defeated with an indecently large score of 8:1. Vasilevsky missed six of the eight goals. All of them in the first 35 minutes of the meeting. Then Vasilevsky followed the principle and ignored the coaching staff’s decision to give up his place in goal to Jonas Johansson, but only before the break. The Russian did not come out for the third 20 minutes.
After such an unsuccessful start, a number of journalists and some fans raised the question for discussion: “Has the Vasilevsky era really passed?” At the same time, many of them tactfully kept silent about the fact that any athlete, after a long pause, needs to go through a period of adaptation. Now Andrey has many competitors in the fight for the title of the best goalkeeper in the world. But the Russian goalkeeper of Tampa always stood out among the rest not only with his technique and size, but also with his mentality. In Vasilevskiy’s rich career there were plenty of unsuccessful matches, too. But Andrey always remained calm and cool. Many can envy him in his ability to clear his mind, abstract from unnecessary things, and also instantly forget past matches and reload for the next ones.
““It’s all in your head,” – that’s what Vasilevsky himself said when he got into the top 100 hockey players in recent NHL history according to The Athletic.
Today, Tampa's Russian goalkeeper demonstrated this skill and won the return match against Dallas for the Lightning. What is important is dry. Vasilevskiy stopped all 25 shots on target. It may seem that there were few of them. But most of them were very dangerous, and Andrey was the one who saved and helped out. And it was important for the Lightning to win not only to justify their recent failure in Dallas, but also to celebrate in a good mood the anniversary of Victor Hedman, who played his 1000th career game in the NHL championships.
Now in the active Vasilevskiy has 33 shutouts in his NHL career. According to this indicator, he is Tampa's record holder by a margin and ranks sixth among all Russian goalkeepers in NHL history, behind only Evgeni Nabokov (59 clean sheets), Nikolai Khabibulin (46), Sergei Bobrovsky (40), Semyon Varlamov (40) and Ilya Bryzgalov (34).
Nikita Kucherov, who is having a phenomenal season, also lit up today in Tampa. The Russian forward retains the title of top scorer of the regular season, and in the game against the Stars he only strengthened his leadership. Nikita has a goal and an assist. 10 – that’s how long his scoring streak lasts.
During all these ten matches, the Russian scored at least one assist. He has already repeated the club's record for the longest streak. Further – more.