Where Andrei Vasilevskiy falls in the all-time playoff goalie discussion


DENVER — Even the perfect on the planet can have his dangerous moments.

Sport 1 of the Stanley Cup Closing marked the primary time Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy had given up three objectives within the first interval of a playoff recreation. Two of these Colorado Avalanche tallies uncharacteristically trickled via him for what could possibly be termed “smooth” objectives, at the least by his requirements.

However being the perfect on the planet comes with an unparalleled confidence in a single’s skills. He stopped each shot he confronted till the Avalanche received in extra time, difficult attacking gamers with a ferocity undeterred by his first-period struggles. “He is an all-world goaltender. He stood tall and gave us an opportunity to win it,” captain Steven Stamkos stated.

The Lightning don’t fret about Andrei Vasilevskiy. Frankly, they’re in awe of him.

“It is fairly cool to play with a participant that is going to go down as probably the greatest that is ever performed the sport,” Tampa Bay Lightning winger Alex Killorn stated of his goaltender.

At this level in his profession, attempting to contextualize the inherent greatness of Andrei Vasilevskiy is like awarding an Oscar for greatest image midway via a film’s premiere. He turns 28 subsequent month. He is ending his eighth NHL season, all with the Lightning. He led the NHL in regular-season wins in 5 of these seasons, capturing the Vezina Trophy in 2018-19 because the league’s prime goaltender.

But it surely’s the postseason accomplishments which have gamers like Killorn anointing Vasilevskiy the GOAT earlier than he turns 30.

Coming into Sport 1 of the Stanley Cup Closing in opposition to the Colorado Avalanche, he had performed in 98 postseason video games. He received 61 of them. He has a profession postseason save proportion of .925, tied with Dominik Hasek, which is .001 away from the perfect of all time. His stats in video games through which the Lightning eradicated opponents are legendary: He has six profession series-clinching shutouts, essentially the most in NHL historical past.

If espresso is for closers, Vasilevskiy could be Starbucks.

Oh, and he was the spine for consecutive Stanley Cup championships and doubtlessly a 3rd in a row, accumulating a Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP in 2021.

That too.

There was some “Goalie Mount Rushmore” speak about Vasilevskiy this postseason. Perhaps you’ve heard it or seen it. So I requested somebody whose visage is already chiseled on that cliffside about whether or not Vasilevskiy belongs there at this juncture.

“I believe so,” Hockey Corridor of Famer Martin Brodeur stated.

“The best way he is been enjoying for the final three years has been unbelievable. A few of his stats, these Sport 7s and clinching video games. It takes a particular goalie to be that dominant for thus a few years,” he stated. “What number of instances wouldn’t it have been simple for him to say, you realize what, I had run. I received these Stanley Cups. However he simply perseveres, you realize?”

In case you could not inform, Marty is a bit enamored with Vasilevskiy. So is his son, as Vasilevskiy is his favourite goaltender — Brodeur advised me that he has acquired a number of autographed objects via Tampa Bay goaltending coach Frantz Jean for the younger fan in his life. For years, Brodeur put Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens on a pedestal because the NHL’s best modern-day goaltender. Vasilevskiy modified that.

“Since he is been on this run, it switched it for me,” Brodeur admitted.

Brodeur is aware of a factor or two about postseason success. Or three, really, as within the variety of Stanley Cups he received with the New Jersey Devils en path to 113 profession postseason wins, second all time to Patrick Roy (151).

Three Cups. However not three in a row as Vasilevskiy is trying to attain.

“I by no means had the possibility. I went to a few Stanley Cup Finals in 4 years. I went again to again [in 2000 and 2001] and misplaced to Colorado in seven video games,” Brodeur stated. “What he is on the verge of doing, it is loopy.”

Let me get out my chisel for the Mount Rushmore of playoff goalies. Roy is on there — I imply, with 151 playoff wins, 4 Stanley Cups and a Conn Smythe paired with three of them, one might argue Roy deserves his personal mountain.

I might chisel Brodeur subsequent to him. That third spot might go to quite a lot of gamers: New York Islanders dynasty goalie Billy Smith, six-Cup winners Jacques Plante and Ken Dryden, Edmonton Oilers legend Grant Fuhr amongst them. Choose any of them and also you’re golden.

After which I might chisel Vasilevskiy subsequent to them.

It isn’t simply the potential three Stanley Cup wins in a row. It is the 4 journeys to the convention finals in 5 years. It is placing up elite numbers in an period that is not the friendliest for goalies, in opposition to the best offensive expertise we have ever seen. It is the way in which he has executed it: 13 series-clinching wins in his playoff profession, trailing solely Marc-Andre Fleury (16) amongst energetic goalies, with a .991 save proportion in his previous eight series-clinching wins, relationship again to the 2020 Stanley Cup Closing.

Once more, simply my opinion. Others do not essentially share it.

“It is just a little early to be speaking in regards to the Mount Rushmore of goalies as a result of I’ve received a number of respect for guys going again to the Johnny Bower days,” stated Brian Engblom, a former NHL defenseman who has been a broadcaster for the Lightning throughout Vasilevskiy’s profession. “It is a laborious query. You are speaking about the entire historical past of the NHL. You must take longevity into it, proper? He cannot have executed any higher than he has up till this level, and I absolutely anticipate him to maintain doing the identical factor.”

What does Vasilevskiy do this makes him higher than everybody else?

“He’s a machine,” Engblom stated. “He is received the perfect legs of any goalie I’ve ever seen within the Nationwide Hockey League. He is so quick. They name him the Large Cat for a motive. I’ve seen so many performs the place guys are available and provides a million-dollar transfer after which he shoots out a leg. You possibly can see the expression on the ahead’s face: ‘C’mon, you did not cease that one, that is unimaginable.’ He does the unimaginable.”

What does that imply?

“He can go each instructions on the identical time.”

Like Mr. Incredible from the Incredible 4?

“Watch him within the warm-ups. He’ll sit within the splits for like 30 seconds, like a gymnast. He is an exceptional athlete, extremely highly effective and all of the attributes. However greater than something, he is pushed to be a winner. He is pushed to be the perfect.”

I requested Vasilevskiy’s backup, Brian Elliott, about that drive to succeed.

“It is fairly particular. It is one thing that after I signed right here I used to be actually joyful to be partnered up with him. Probably the greatest guys to do it,” Elliott stated. “I used to be fortunate sufficient to have a kind of stints when Marty Brodeur was with us in St. Louis. It is one thing you always remember, being at a observe and a legend on the different finish. [Vasy] is making himself into a kind of guys that’ll go down in historical past. That is fairly particular to me.”

Does he belong on the Mount Rushmore of playoff goalies?

“I do not put him there. He places himself there,” Elliott deadpanned. “I do not get into that complete debate. He is confirmed, and nonetheless proving, what he can do.”

The thoughts boggles at what Vasilevskiy might find yourself proving when all is alleged and executed. His first full season as a starter was 2017-18. He has gotten 188 wins within the five-year span since then out of 372 attainable video games resulting from shortened seasons (successful 50.5% of his group’s video games). In keeping with ESPN Stats & Info, 5 extra seasons at that win charge would imply 207 victories; 10 extra seasons could be 414 extra victories. The latter would put him at 643 profession wins, or 48 behind Brodeur’s all-time document of 691.

Hypothetically, even when we dock Vasilevskiy 10 wins in Years 6-10 resulting from his age and/or enjoying with lesser groups, he’d nonetheless be approaching 600 wins and simply be in second place in NHL historical past.

Does Brodeur hear the footsteps?

“Not but,” he stated. “He is received just a little methods to go, however that is effective. Like I advised you earlier than, if somebody will get to the document, they’ll deserve it.”

As I love my masonry work in placing Andrei Vasilevskiy on my Mount Rushmore of playoff goalies, I agree with Brodeur. Vasilevskiy just isn’t fairly there on the Mount Rushmore of regular-season goalies.

Not but, at the least.

“You are getting possibly half his face on Mount Rushmore,” Engblom stated, metaphorical chisel in hand. “I will reserve the opposite half for when he performs for an additional eight or 9 years.”

Till then, we’ll proceed to witness the burgeoning legend of Andrei Vasilevskiy.

“That is the way you gauge gamers: how they play in big-time video games,” Killorn stated. “He is been nothing however great in these video games.”

Jersey Foul of the week

From humid Tampa Bay:

There was some debate amongst Lightning followers as to why this celebration of Phil Esposito, the Hockey Corridor of Famer who was a driving pressure in growth to Tampa, must be thought of a Foul.

At a minimal, it is as a result of this can be a hockey jersey, not a billboard, and must be handled as such. But additionally, from a design standpoint, that enormous blue ocean of shade beneath the nameplate is simply aesthetically distracting. No less than put a No. 92 there in honor of when the group was based. Though it will nonetheless be a Foul.

Video of the week

The Avalanche are within the Stanley Cup Closing. It is about time this gets unearthed.

In 2012, Think about Dragons put out a video for their song “Radioactive” that featured Alexandra Daddario and a subplot about Muppet pit preventing. This in some way impressed the Colorado Avalanche to create their very own model of a “Radioactive” video in 2014 that featured present gamers Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon in addition to former Avs Paul Stastny and Matt Duchene.

There’s a number of sweat. And lip-syncing. And sweaty lip-syncing. There’s additionally a clip of then-head coach Patrick Roy attempting to combat Bruce Boudreau between the benches, which was actually radioactive.

“Think about Avs,” because it was identified, was a collaboration between the group and Think about Dragons. The Avalanche really deleted it from their official YouTube channel a while in the past. You possibly can watch it above or on Streamable.

We demand a remake in the event that they win the Stanley Cup. Or, in the event that they lose, pressure the gamers to sweaty-lip-sync to “Thunder.”

Winners and losers of the week

Winner: Vegas Golden Knights

Bruce Cassidy is a terrific coach and an easy one. He is as candid as they arrive. His hiring will profit the Golden Knights, who might use somebody to slice via the nonsense and take a contemporary look beneath the hood to see what’s fallacious with their engine. For Cassidy, he takes over a contender on the way in which up as a substitute of a fading one in Boston. Excellent news throughout with this rent.

Loser: Secrecy

I like John Tortorella with the Philadelphia Flyers, a hiring that ESPN’s Kevin Weekes stated is in the works. You could not prepare dinner up a greater aesthetic and philosophical match than Seething Man and the Broad Road Bullies. That stated, it is a tough look for the Flyers to have reports that Barry Trotz was (a) their first selection and (b) turned down $7 million yearly (!) to teach the group.

Winner: Arizona Coyotes

Discover me anybody who loves something greater than Gary Bettman loves the Arizona marketplace for the NHL. At his state of the league news conference, the commissioner as soon as once more went to bat for the Coyotes’ three-year (plus an choice for a fourth!) plan to play in an enviornment at Arizona State College that seats not more than 5,000 followers.

“It isn’t unprecedented. You do what it’s a must to do should you consider available in the market long run. We stay excited and optimistic in regards to the [Tempe] venture,” he stated, citing the attainable enviornment venture that may be constructed whereas the Coyotes play at ASU. Bettman even cited a number of examples of groups enjoying in smaller venues briefly, just like the San Jose Sharks on the Cow Palace and Tampa Bay Lightning at Expo Corridor. By no means thoughts these had been growth groups, and that these placeholder venues nonetheless maintain twice the capability of ASU.

Loser: San Jose Sharks

NHL deputy commissioner Invoice Daly revealed that the Evander Kane contract termination grievance with the San Jose Sharks “has been delayed resulting from scheduling conflicts with the case’s arbitrator, and is probably not reached earlier than free company opens July 13.”

Whereas this clearly impacts Kane, author Sheng Peng spells out why it impacts the Sharks even more, from cap house to buyout selections.

Winner: Emphatic selections

Kudos to the NHL for rapidly and sternly addressing the elephant within the room: What occurs when the Lightning or Avalanche win the Cup and one in every of their Russian gamers desires to take the chalice to their homeland, which is at the moment being ostracized by the NHL for its invasion of Ukraine?

“We made each golf equipment conscious already with respect to this summer season, the Cup just isn’t going to Russia or Belarus,” Daly stated. “We might owe a Cup journey sooner or later, similar to we did with the pandemic. But it surely’s not occurring this summer season.”

Loser: Gerard Gallant

I acquired a number of textual content messages from hockey public relations professionals who had been shocked by the Rangers coach’s fumbling of Kaapo Kakko‘s wholesome scratch in Sport 6 in opposition to the Lightning. Gallant refused to deal with it in the course of the recreation or after the sport.

It was solely later that he revealed it was solely a call meant to offer his group the very best lineup. However by refusing to have interaction on the matter, Gallant opened up the spigot for a flood of hypothesis about Kakko and the “actual” motive he was out of the lineup, from an incident with the coach to different extra excessive theories. That is a disgrace and one thing fully unwarranted. It is such an unforced error.

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