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2018 Vezina Winner – Andrei Vasilevskiy

Andrei Vasilevskiy means really good goalie in Russian.

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Columbus Blue Jackets Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Andrei was drafted 19th overall in the 2012 NHL draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning. He played in the KHL for two years playing for the Ufa Salavat Yulayev before joining the Syracuse Crunch in the 2014-2015 seasons where he sported a 2.45GAA and a .917Sv%. He would bounce up this season and the next making a total of 33 starts with 13 wins for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Last year, during the 2016-2017 season he was finally the starter for the Lightning and we got to see what he could do in a full-time gig. He did not disappoint with 47 starts, 23 wins, 2.61GAA and a SV% of .917. He did all of this without Steven Stamkos for most of the season meaning more stress was put on the defense without the strong offensive production to counter it.

We are now entering Andrei’s second full season as the main goalie and if you have been paying any attention so far this year you know the success story that is the Tampa Bay Lightning. It’s not just the return of Steven Stamkos which was welcome, it’s not Brayden Point and Vladislav Namestnikov who are up to a point per game pace. It’s not Nikita Kucherov who is stepping into the shoes of the one of the premier scorers in this league with 14 goals in 15 games (leading the league). It’s not the fact that everyone on this team save 3 has a positive plus minus right now, the fact that the team is 2nd in the league in power play points, 9th in shorthanded goals and first in goals for per game. Well ok, it’s a lot of that, but it’s also been the brilliant play from Andrei who is now first in the league in wins (11 wins in just 13 starts for a 11-2 record), 14th in GAA (2.52), 9th in SV% (.924), 1st in shootout’s (perfect 3 for 3) and 4th in shutouts. He hasn’t done this against chump opponents either, he’s faced Washington, Pittsburgh (twice), St. Louis, Blue Jackets (twice), Detroit (twice) in fact 7 of those 11 wins he has are against teams in the top half of the standings in the league.

NHL: New York Rangers at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raeDLyJV6Ck

The true strength has become this team’s ability to be a cohesive unit. It’s not the Blackhawks where Corey Crawford has had to stand on his head, it’s not the Capitals who are being carried by their top line it’s a full roster from the top 3 all the way down to fourth line guys (Alex Killorn) who are in double digit points already. It’s their strong core of defensemen Mikhail Sergachev, Victor Hedman, Braydon Coburn and Jake Dotchin and finally it’s the strong play of Vasilevskiy in net. I think he’s not only going to finish this season with the most wins but he will likely be in the running for Vezina down the stretch.