(Denver) Unusual sight in Game 1: Andrei Vasilevskiy, widely regarded as the best goalkeeper in the world, was passed past two Christmas trees early in the game.
Posted at 4:29pm
There was also a shot from a tight angle by Valeri Nichushkin, which hit the post. A high shot on the blocker’s side that has seen the keeper concede 20 of his 43 goals since the start of the playoffs, according to Sportlogiq.
In short, things seemed to be going fast for the Lightning goalie. Dan Rosen of the NHL. com, then reminded us that it was the first time in his career, in 94 starts in the playoffs, that the Russian had conceded three goals in the first period.
But then Vasilevskiy regained his brilliance, blocking the next 22 shots before retiring in overtime after a strong one-timer from Andre Burakovsky.
This was further proof that Jon Cooper’s patience with his goalkeeper has its virtues. It must be said that he holds on his hands an exceptional player whose athletic qualities make many garage league goalies salivate. Except maybe NHL.com colleague Guillaume Lepage, who at 6’4 can at least claim to be taller than number 88.
But Cooper is used to letting his goalie orient himself. During the season, Vasilevskiy was eliminated from a game just 10 times in 355 starts (2.8% of his games). Only Carey Price (2.1%) has been substituted less often since Vasilevskiy moved to the NHL.
In series? Only starts once in 93. It was May 11, 2018, Game 2 of a series against the Washington Capitals, eventual Stanley Cup champions that year. After two periods, Washington was 4-0 and Vasilevskiy had given up four times with 25 shots. Louis Domingue replaced him.
Since then, no goalie other than Vasilevskiy has played a single minute in the playoffs for the Lightning. So here he is on 76 straight starts where his helper – now Brian Elliott – has remained well seated on the bench. During this streak he is 49-27 with a GAA of 2.17 and a savings rate of .925.
Cooper knows the stats. “How many times have I taken Vasi out of a game in four years? Maybe once. I firmly believe that you should let your goalkeeper off the hook. There has to be trust, communication with the goalkeeper, but Vasi and Less have been together for eight years.
I’m definitely not a coach who gets the hang of things quickly. If it really is a massacre, I’ll take out my guardian to keep his trust, but that hasn’t happened to us often. I trust our goalkeepers.
“I want to stay with the boys until the end, no matter what the result, and keep fighting,” Vasilevskiy explained to us on Tuesday at Media Day. Anything is possible in hockey, especially in the playoffs. You can have a lucky jump, a power play and it changes the game. So I want to stay until the end. »
For the only time in the final there are two rest days between games, which pleases Jon Cooper, who was thinking of Brayden Point and Brandon Hagel. The first returned to the game after a month’s absence on Wednesday, while the second presented an uncertain case all day before the game. “It will do them good,” he said. For his team, however, this extra day extends the duration of this trip. “We arrived two days early, which makes a six-day trip for two games,” he recalled. But it’s ok, I’m not complaining, we just had to get more points in the season to have the advantage on the ice. »
It was a break in practice, but injured Nazem Kadri and Andrew Cogliano skated for the Avalanche. We still don’t know their possible return date.
When Bednar met the media at the Ball Arena, Cooper did so via video conference, which caused grumbling from some colleagues. It must be said that the contradiction on Wednesday was blatant. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman began his press conference by noting that life is slowly returning to normal after two years of the pandemic. “I can speak to you and answer your questions personally,” Bettman recalled.