Andrei Vasilevskiy’s game against the Sharks on Saturday night was by far his best of the season. We wrote on Friday about how he has struggled so far this season. He took the first step toward changing that narrative by shutting down San Jose and being one of the best players on the ice in the Lightning’s 7-1 victory.
The Sharks got 38 shots on net and Vasilevskiy saved 37 of them. According to Evolving Hockey, the Sharks were expected to score 3.46 goals based on the number and locations of their shots. By limiting them to one goal, Vasilevskiy saved 2.46 goals above expected (GSAx). That marked just his seventh game in 20 starts with a positive GSAx.
Of those seven positive games, Saturday against the Sharks was his best. His second best came early in the season when he posted a 1.39 GSAx against the Montreal Canadiens in a game where he also allowed only one goal. He has yet to post a shut out so far this season.
But saving almost two and a half goals above expected isn’t just a good game in the context of this season. Even last year, that would have been Vasilevskiy’s fourth best game of the season. That was an excellent display of goaltending and in response to one of his worst games of the season, is an encouraging sign.
The Lightning need more of the Andrei Vasilevskiy who was in net on Saturday and less of the version we’ve seen for much of the rest of the season.
Lightning Organization News
After the Crunch game on Saturday night, head coach Ben Groulx said that they expect goaltender Scott Wedgewood to miss 4-6 weeks. Fortunately, Mike Condon appears to be healthy and could take over the starting job as soon as this week. The Lightning acquired Condon as part of the move to get the final year of Ryan Callahan’s contract off the books to create cap space and flexibility.
Joe Smith wrote at The Athletic that Carter Verhaeghe officially got the notice to get an apartment in Tampa. That likely means he’ll be in Tampa for the rest of the year. Geo wrote about how well Verhaeghe played on Saturday night against the Sharks. That performance should go a long way toward getting him more minutes. Verhaeghe had been doing everything except scoring so far this season. The three points against the Sharks finally gave him some production to go with the play driving. With only 12 forwards on the roster, the door is wide open for Verhaeghe to claim a spot. And if his last game is any indication, he’s going to do just that.
Other Hockey News
The Sabres are reportedly interested in trading for Alex Galchenyuk. They’ve been fine defensively for the last few years but lacking any offense. I guess they’re looking for a way to make their defense worse without any noticeable gains on offense. Interesting strategy.
This is a fun article from Sportsnet about the person NHL starts trust with their gear.