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Lightning Round: Does Andrei Vasilevskiy belong in the Vezina Trophy conversation?

And Mathieu Joseph has been reassigned to Syracuse.

Philadelphia Flyers v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images

Last night Andrei Vasilevskiy extended his point streak to 21 games. His last loss in regulation time dated back to December 14th, when the Lightning were defeated by the Washington Capitals. During that stretch he has won 19 of 21 games, losing both games in the overtime against the Dallas Stars. This achievement allowed him to become just the sixth goaltender in the NHL history to collect at least one point in 21 or more consecutive games.

We’ve written probably a million times on this site about how frustrating it was to watch Vasilevskiy struggling during the first half of the season, when the Lightning lost games due to poor goaltending despite showing a solid game. Seeing him playing with a confidence is really encouraging and it showed up at the right time, when the team needed to push back into a playoff spot.

But the thing that really intrigues me on this Sunday morning is if Andrei Vasilevskiy already belongs in the Vezina Trophy conversation. Over his impressive point streak he leads the NHL with .948 save percentage while allowing about 1.98 goals per game and if you’re looking at overall stats for this season, Vasilevskiy already returned into the top 10 in both of these components.

But even more importantly Andrei Vasilevskiy leads the NHL in wins. In 44 games he has 32 wins and his closest opponent Jordan Binnington is eight wins behind while playing three fewer games. As is accepted across the analytical community in the NHL, wins shouldn’t be considered as goalie stats because the goaltender does not have a primarily impact on the team’s victory. Although, as we know, the general managers of the NHL teams, who actually decide who will be a Vezina Trophy winner, still using wins as the basic statistic for evaluating goalies.

In terms of advanced stats Vasilevskiy doesn’t really look great. According to Evolving-hockey.com a Lightning goalie is just the 13th with 8.02 GSAA and the 56th with -3.23 GSAx at even strength this season. However his low position is caused mostly because of his struggles in the first half of the season and he’s looking better over the last two months: he’s the second with 10.48 GSAA and the sixth with 4.38 GSAx during this stretch. Having a negative goals saved expected number didn’t really hurt him in the previous seasons, in fact he even had worse numbers in both of the last seasons when he became a finalist and the winner of Vezina Trophy. In contrast with Vasilevskiy, John Gibson who has been considered as the one of the best goalies in the NHL by analytical community has never been a finalist for the Vezina Trophy and his highest position in votes is the seventh in the 2015-16.

At this point i’m not saying that Vasilevskiy deserved to be a Vezina Trophy winner this season, there are people on our site who are more competent in evaluating the actual impact Vasilevskiy having on the Lightning in comparing with goalies from other teams. My point is that according to the logic of how the Vezina Trophy winners were decided in the previous seasons, he deserves to be at least in the conversation and maybe even as a frontrunner. What do you think?

Lightning Org News

The afternoon games against the Philadelphia Flyers are always fun. During the previous season two of these games ended in overtime despite the Flyers having a three-goal deficit at some point in this games. Yesterday they almost completed another comeback but were stopped by Andrei Vasilevskiy performance in the third period [Raw Charge]

The Lightning extended their winning streak to ten games and also set the new record for the longest winning streak at home. Their numbers during that stretch are impressive.

The Tampa Bay Lightning sent forward Mathieu Joseph to the Syracuse Crunch. Joseph was initially recalled due to injury of Steven Stamkos and appeared in three games for the Lightning this week.

The Syracuse Crunch have been defeated by the Rochester Americans but still earned a very important point.

The Orlando Solar Bears beat the worst team in the division and tied the Greenville Swamp Rabbits for the third place in the South.

Other Hockey News

The Los Angeles Kings beat the Colorado Avalanche in the Stadium Series and Tyler Toffoli became the first player to score hat-trick in an outdoor game in NHL history.

The NHL also announced that Carolina Hurricanes will host the 2021 Stadium Series at NC State’s Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh.

Their opponent will be announced later, but according to Elliotte Friedman the Pittsburgh Penguins are in the consideration.

The San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane has criticized the NHL Department of Player Safety after receiving a suspension for three games for elbowing Neal Pionk of the Winnipeg Jets.

The Sharks Erik Karlsson will miss the rest of the season due to broken thumb. He joined his teammates Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl at injury reserve.