No goaltender has played more hockey in the last four seasons than Tampa Bay Lightning superstar netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy — and after losing to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Russian got real about the toll it has taken on him.
“The first 30-35 games I felt as usual,” Vasilevskiy said, according to NHL.com’s Corey Long. “But then, I don’t know, me and my body weren’t on the same page. All of those small injuries came out at the same time…my mistake was that I didn’t really pay attention to recovery, so I kept pushing myself to the limit….my body kind of let me down. To be honest, I didn’t feel that great after that.”
Vasilevskiy sported a 2.65 goals-against average and .915 save percentage over 60 games in 2022-23; those are the worst statistics since he became a full-time starting goalie in 2017-18. His 26 losses were also the most he has ever had in an NHL season, per Long.
“I didn’t change anything, but I probably should have just payed more attention to my recovery during the season,” he explained. “Maybe sometimes I should have settled back instead of pushing ever harder. But we’ll find out next year if it was too many games.”
The Lightning have made deep playoff runs the last three seasons; they won two Stanley Cups in three appearances since 2019. The Russian backstop has been between the pipes for the entire thing, and it clearly took a toll on the superstar.
He had just a 3.65 GAA and .875 save percentage in the team’s six-game loss to the Leafs in the Eastern Conference First Round.
“I say that no goaltender played as much as he has in so many pressure games in the biggest spotlight over the last 36 months than that kid,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper explained. “At some point will it take a toll? I’m sure it does. His body will heal…but the mind has got to heal. I think that will probably be the best part for him.”
Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy will finally have a full offseason to recover and prepare for next season.
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