How many games could Vasilevskiy win?

by Gary Shelton on March 8, 2018 · 2 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Lightning

Vasilevski has won 39 games so far for Bolts./CARMEN MANDATO

Vasilevski has won 39 games so far for Bolts./CARMEN MANDATO

Thursday, 4 a.m.

He just got here. The price tags are not off of him yet.

The language is new. The surroundings are new. The teammates are new. All that is the same is the game, and the unusual job description that says that a puck hitting you going a hundred miles an hour is a good thing.

Already, however, you wonder:

Just how good can Andrei Vasilevskiy be?

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At 23, Vasilevskiy is among the league leaders./JEFFREY S. KING

At 23, Vasilevskiy is among the league leaders./JEFFREY S. KING

His rise has been so meteoric, his impact so sudden, that you cannot help but wonder. Throughout history, it has taken some time to grow into his profession. But Vasilevskiy is not yet 24 years old, and already, he has established himself as a young star.

And you wonder:

How many could he win?

Already, Vasilevskiy has won 39 games this season. Not bad for a kid who had 41 over bits of three seasons coming into the year. One more win, and Vasilevskiy ties Ben Bishop's franchise record of 40.

It was the best move that the franchise (read: Steve Yzerman) has made. The decision to take a successful goalie in Bishop and upgrade to Vasilevskiy couldn't have been an easy one. Sure, Bishop would have had to be paid, but the Bolts have paid a lot of players lately.

Granted, Vasilevskiy has talked lately about being weary, and Lightning coach Jon Cooper has talked of giving him some time off. In his last 21 starts, Vasilevskily has given up 68 goals (3.23 per game) after giving up 64 in his first 33 games (1.93).

Over the history of the NHL, 57 goaltenders have won 40 games. But no one has won more than 48, the record held by Martin Brodeur and Braden Holtby.

It's a dwindling list.

Consider:

40 wins: With one more win, Vasilevskiy will join 15 other players who finished with 40 exactly.

41:Two more wins, and Vasilevskiy joins 12 players who have exactly 41.

42: Three more wins, and there are 11 players with 42.

43: Four more wins, and Vasilevskiy joins six players (three of them feating seasons by Brodeur).

44: Six players have 44, including two seasons by Terry Sawchuck.

45: Six more wins, and Vasilevskiy would join Brodeur and Mikka Kiprusoff.

46: Only Evgeni Nabokov has won exactly 46, seven wins ahead of Vasilevskiy.

47 wins: Bernie Parent and Roberto Luongo are eight ahead of Vasilevski,

48 wins: Only Brodeur and Braden Holtby have ever won 48. Brodeur had seven seasons with 40 wins and five more with at least 34.

Just think of it. If Vasilevskiy can win 10 more games, he'll have won more games than anyone...anytime.

Now, consider Vasilevskiy's tender age. For instance, he is seventh in the NHL in save percentage. Six of the players ahead of him are well into their 30s. (John Gibson of Anaheim is 24). He's 10th in goals against. Eight of the goalies ahead of him are in their 30s. He's second in the league in saves. He's second in ice time.

So can he win 49? Obviously, it would take some doing with 15 games to go, and there are the upcoming playoffs to prepare for. Three of those come on the second night of back-to-backers, meaning he probably won't play. He likes work, but Jon Cooper may give him a night or two off down the stretch. That's 10-11 stars. He'd have to be almost perfect.

Of course, by now, we're used to seeing that.

 

 

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Cecil DeBald March 8, 2018 at 10:53 am

I really like Ben Bishop (know his family) and am sure if he was still with the Lightning the team would be doing well, but being he is gone, I’d hate to think of how the Lightning would be doing without Vas, with an “average” goaltender… Vas has been the rock for a struggling defensive effort.

Cecil

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Gary Shelton March 8, 2018 at 5:25 pm

He has. I’ll be honest. In the past, I thought he gave up goals in clusters, as if the first goal was still on his mind when he surrendered the second. But he’s been terrific.

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