It’s harder to have a better week than Andrei Vasilevskiy did last week. He went 3-0, stopped 79 out of the 81 shots he faced and posted two shutouts. The two goals he surrendered both came against the Carolina Hurricanes. In fact, there was only one player in the entire league that was good enough to put a puck past Vasy - Jesper Fast. One of the goals was on the power play while the other one might as well have been as it came just as Steven Stamkos was stepping back on the ice following a slashing penalty.
For that stellar week of play he was named the NHL’s first star of the week. Chicago’s Patrick Kane (who recorded 8 points, including his 400th career goal) was the second star while Mats Zuccarello (who also had 8 points) of the Minnesota Wild was the third star.
His underlying statistics were just as impressive as his counting stats (.67 GAA, .975 SV%). In all situations he posted a 4.89 goals saved above average which was tops during the week. His .920 high-danger save percentage was third among goalies who appeared in more than one game.
With the Lightning playing their way through some injuries they needed Vasilevskiy to be their last line of defense and he lived up to the billing. The goalie is the second Lightning player to be named a star of the week this season, but the first to take top billing. Earlier in the season Steven Stamkos took home third star honors following the first week of the season.
The last Lightning player to earn first star honors was Victor Hedman when he accomplished the feat for the week of December 29th, 2019. Vasilevskiy is no stranger to seeing his name on the list. Three times last season he was one of the three stars of the week. He was the first star for the week of January 2nd, third star for the week of February 9th, and second star for the week of February 16th. Not a bad little run.
This year the NHL is naming a co-first star every week. Along with the player, the league is featuring a local first responder. This week Glenda M. Wright, Tampa General Hospital’s Director of Environmental Services and Pest Control. Congratulations to Glenda and Andrei.
Looks like Andrei wants to nab that first star this week as well. The Lightning probably didn’t deserve to win, but he bailed them out.
Some of the prospects down in Syracuse are starting to find their stride. Hopefully, that leads to a few more wins for the Crunch.
It’s still relatively early in the season, but the Lightning have moved to the top of the heap in the eyes of the oddsmakers. At +575 they are now the favorites to lift the Cup this summer. Toronto (+650) and Colorado (+750) round out the top three.
They killed off a few more penalties on Tuesday to add to their superlative stats. Heading into the game they had killed off 33 of 36 over their previous ten games. That’s pretty darn good.
Some notes about the game from our friends at the Lightning:
- The Lightning’s five-game winning streak is the longest current winning streak in the NHL.
- During the streak they’ve outscored their opponents 17-3.
- Andrei Vasilevskiy is the first goaltender in franchise history to post three consecutive shutouts.
- His shutout streak is currently at 200:45, second to John Grahme’s 202:46, posted over four games back in 2006.
- Ondrej Palat has scored the first goal of a game six times this season, the most in the NHL.
Fans in Pittsburgh are scheduled to return to games this week. Unfortunately they may have to wait a little bit longer to see their future hall of famer in action. At his point it’s unclear if it’s due to him having COVID or if he came into close contact with someone suspected of having the virus.
The good news for the league is that Crosby is only one of three players currently on the COVID protocol list (Ryan Johansen and Tomas Hertl are the other two). That number is the lowest it has been for the NHL this season. Much like in the MLB last summer, the teams seem to be acclimating to life in the time of COVID and keeping outbreaks under control. It will be interesting to see if they can maintain this positive trend as more buildings open up to fans.
No thoughts for the Lightning again this week, but Elliotte does dive into the world of sports collectibles, NFT’s, and Top Shots. Currently only available with the NBA, Top Shots are being billed as the next evolution of sports collectibles. Instead of physical trading cards, people buy, invest, or trade in virtual highlights. Sound crazy? Well Dapper Labs, the company behind the idea reported $270 million in transaction have taken place since mid-June. The NBA and NBAPA are getting a portion of that money. Could it be another revenue stream for the NHL in the future?
It’s been a rough season in Columbus, but it doesn’t look like Torts will be filing for unemployment just yet. His general manager, Jarmo Kekalainen, believes that the current coaching staff is the one that will “get out of this jam”. We’ll see.