How much should the Bolts rest Vasilevskiy?

by Gary Shelton on February 4, 2020

in general

How often should Lightning rest Vasilevskiy?./CHUCK MULLER

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

As always, he is a beast between the pipes.

But how often to you unleash him?

He is on a hot streak, and once again, he is the backbone of the Tampa Bay Lightning. He is the man in charge of keeping pucks out of danger, a man who will put his face in the way of a 100-mile-an-hour shot if it requires it, and his competitiveness spreads to those around him.

But how much should the Tampa Bay Lightning rely on him?

Once again, Andrei Vasilevskiy is about to enter the discussion for the

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NHL's Vezina Trophy for the best goaltender. Oh, he's only 14th in goals-against, and he's 17th in save percentage. But he's first in victories, which is kind of the point, isn't it?

As ever, however, the Lightning faces a crucial decision as it goes down the stretch. How often should it put Vasilevskiy in net as it goes down the stretch?

Three seasons ago, he started a whopping 65 regular season games. He won 44 of them (tied for eighth all-time) and then won 11 more in the playoffs.

Last season, he started 53 games -- still a lot -- and won 39.

And this year? With 30 games left for the Lightning, he's started 38. He's won 26 (nine losses and three ties).

This year, the Lightning aren't running away and hiding in the standings. And if their playoffs depend on Vasileveskiy, he could start as many as 55 games. Who knows, maybe 60?

Ah, but would the Lightning risk wearing down Vasilevskiy as the playoffs approach? It's hard to blame last season's egg-laying on Vasileveskiy alone, but by the time the playoffs ended last season, Vasilevsiy had started 142 games (regular season and playoffs) in two years. That doesn't help.

Oh, I know. There is not a game that the Lightning play, Vasilevskiy in goal is a darned fine idea. There is a trust factor that Vasilevskiy has earned through 150 victories in six seasons.

Think Vasilevskiy has been good lately?

Consider this. In his first 19 starts this season, Vasilveskiy was 10-8-1 with a dismal .903 save percentage. He had given up 57 goals?

And the last 19? HE's 16-1-2. Hissave percentage is 35 points higher, .938, despite the face the defense can leave him looking like a bear fighting off bees.

Oh, you know how it works. With an elite goaltender, you expect a shutout every night. Those haven't come as often. Vasilveskiy has two this year after eight and six in the previous two years.

But most nights, he gives the Lightning their best chance to win.

But how many nights should the Lightning point him toward the ice?

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