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Lightning Round: Andrei Vasilevskiy is back in the net, at least in practice

Andrei Vasilevsky, clad in a leather jacker sits astride a black motorcycle in a parking lot.
Andrei Vasilevskiy. Photo courtesy of the Tampa Bay Lightning via their Twitter (@TBLightning)

Monday provided another welcome sight for Lightning fans as Andrei Vasilevskiy was spotted at practice making saves in the net:

“It feels amazing” he told reporters after the practice. He also let them know that he had been facing shots from goaltending coach Frantz Jean for about a week. It’ll still be a little while until he’s ready for game action as he indicated that the staff will reassess where he’s at in about two weeks, which would be about 8 weeks since he had the surgery.

Assistant coach Rob Zettler confirmed that Vasy was “on track” in his rehab. He also let everyone know that Erik Cernak is “day-to-day” and is expected to join the team on the road. Not matter what his status is, they will receive some reinforcement on the blue line as Haydn Fleury should wrap up his conditioning stint after Syracuse’s game tomorrow.

While it’s great to have an all-world goaltender back in between the pipes, both Zettler and Nick Paul agreed that the team has to play better in front of whomever is in net. The key to that will be breaking the puck out of their own zone cleanly. When they are able to move the puck out quickly it helps jumpstart their offense and prevents them from getting pinned in and stuck out on the ice.

Still, their should be some excitement in the locker room when Vasilevskiy straps on the pads for a real game. Will it be enough to break them out of their funk? Hopefully.

Lightning / NHL News

Conor Sheary out for “a couple of weeks” [Tampa Bay Lightning]

Zettler was also asked about the status of forward Conor Sheary and while he didn’t have an exact time frame on his return, telling reporters “as far as I know it’s a couple of weeks away.” So expect to see Walterri Meralä with the team for a little bit longer.

Crunch sign Vinnie Purpura to PTO [Syracuse Crunch]

With Matt Tomkins still in Tampa, Pytor Kochetkov in Carolina, and Evan Fitzpatrick battling an injury, the Crunch signed 25-year-old Vinnie Purpura to a PTO. The 6’6″ goaltender has been playing in Adirondack in the ECHL, going 2-1-1 with a 2.61 GAA and .908 SV%. The Crunch have a game against Bridgeport this morning and then a back-to-back with Hartford over the weekend. They also announced that Jayden Dureau has been recalled from Orlando.

Pavel Francouz to miss entire season [Mile High Hockey]

The Colorado Avalanche’s list of injuries since winning their Stanley Cup a couple of seasons ago is quite impressive. Unfortunately, they had to add Pavel Francouz to the list. It was announced on Sunday that the goaltender will miss the rest of the season due to a lower-body injury.

The hidden meaning within the Kraken’s Lunar New Year jersey [Davy Jones’ Locker Room]

The reworking of the logo by artist Kang Robinson has some subtle details that you might miss on the first viewing.

‘These are NHL players. They deserve an NHL rink’ [SportsNet]

Yes, head of NHLPA Marty Walsh, they are NHL players. Speaking about rumors in regards to possible expansion, he wanted to make sure that the situation in Arizona wasn’t forgotten, especially by the Coyotes’ owners. It seems he feels there is a lack of urgency in figuring out their stadium situation.

Golden Knights visit White House [NHL.com]

There were jokes about Delaware and Vegas, so that’s nice. Hopefully President Biden gets to keep the big gold hockey stick they gave him. That’s a pretty cool.

‘This is on us’: McDavid, Draisaitl, and Nurse on firing of coaches [Edmonton Journal]

It’s probably not a great sign when your best players are “blindsided” by the firing of a coach. According to Connor McDavid, Jay Woodcroft never lost the room and that the blame for the early season struggles lies with the players.

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